I was out of the office for two weeks. Work has become an integral part of my identity and I’ve been neglecting some of the other rich bits that make life, well, literally worth living. My perceived importance prevented me from achieving balance and just before it all got out of hand, two little boys, 9 and 13, full of life and full of gas arrived at our doorsteps.
Initially I couldn’t disconnect even in the midst of their precious faces and significant need for attention, love, and activities! And food, a mammoth amount of food. I quickly eased into my new two-week normal. We rose early to feast on New Jersey bagels with taylor ham. There were chocolate chip pancakes and syrup spills on our vintage food puzzle. We re-watched Holes, one of my favorite summer reading assignments from back in the day. We re-read it too during long morning bubble baths. We made a dream catcher for mom, got water logged at the pool, and baked. I had been needing a recalibration and this most certainly was just that. I was seeing things again with wonder from the perspective of a child. Even when they were disinterested, I got to reside in another dimension of youthful innocence. I was reacquainted with joy.
We navigated temper tantrums, resentment and forgiveness. We did lots of laundry. Lots. I particularly loved finding little socks and small underwear amidst my typical load, like the prize in a Cracker Jack box. Their big personalities tested and challenged me. They also embraced me and together we found a new comfort zone. They gifted me elevated definitions of love and selflessness. Another gift was seeing my husband through a beautiful nurturing lens. We were a family found again.
I became hyper-focused on the people and concepts that truly matter. We ate fresh pasta, refrigerator cake and too much bacon. We watched movies and played Pac-Man. We frequented all the zoos and all the aquariums we possibly could. We were local loyalists intent on an adventure. We never departed a small strip of the east coast... for most of the trip we never actually departed our state, except for an extensive amount of time spent in Brooklyn, but the same old spots held new promise. We parted with these little people that came running into our home and our hearts. We did hard things and came out the other side changed.
Three days were left at that point and I got to reconnect with a different part of myself... We come into the world ideally with a supportive familial unit. Our needs are met, we are loved and cared for, encouraged and celebrated. Time goes on, we navigate the highs and lows of adolescence, teenage drama, higher learning and first jobs. We may end up coupled, we may not. We find our people, our tribe. The ones we are vulnerable with, celebrate with, confront adversity with. We let down our walls with our tribe. I admittedly very easily let people into my innermost circle, and often end up dismayed or misunderstood. Exposing weaknesses to those prematurely granted access into the circle can set your life ablaze and not in a good empowering way. Thankfully it doesn’t last long. The bandaid gets ripped off, you learn, you tighten the circle, you begin anew.
I had the long overdue chance to spend time with some of my tribe in the city that will always be a second home. We played rummy and Scrabble, ate mama’s chicken cutlets, drank chocolate milkshakes and watched Freaky Friday. We cried watching the wedding scene from The Office because, well, Jim and Pam. We cried again watching the trailer of A Star is Born, because music. We slurped ramen in Union Market, spritzed in Masseria’s fancy lounge under the illumination of heat lightning. We broke down barriers and were raw and unapologetic about our fears. We talked about troubling topics and felt safe in those unknowns. We ate even more than we thought we could! We parted physically at the station, but not mentally because your tribe is always with you.
It’s back to work tomorrow but first I have a cake to ice.