There’s a chapter in Shauna Niequist’s new book (I Guess I Haven’t Learned That Yet) entitled, Put Yourself in The Path which talks about the need to essentially, make your own magic happen through your conscious choices.
These pages resonated deeply with me lately as I have encountered my own slew of challenges that come with being in the sandwich stage of life (raising young and old kids, while also caring for and managing the affairs of parents and grandparents). I’ve found lately that I have even less time for myself or random silliness (which if you know me, both of those things go hand in hand). At times it’s been overwhelming, because I’m counted on to be all things to all people. But then I was reminded about a few truths that I needed to hear again.
Shauna writes, One of my goals is to be a person that’s easily delighted. Same. As I sat in my grandma’s kitchen yesterday watching my daughters regale their great grandma with their theatrical production, I couldn’t help but appreciate what it took to get to that moment. My wife’s been out of town the past few days (in Mexico on a much needed girls trip) and it could have been very easy to just phone it in. In fact, I almost did. The girls were all lined up to spend the weekend at my mother in laws house, and I would be freed up to catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation.
Yet, family time beckoned. And so at the end of a long Friday, I had the girls help me pack up the van, bikes, and our new puppy for our road trip up to South Carolina. I do this often with the girls when I’m by myself, now that I think about it. We go on these adventures together (sometimes ill advised perhaps), but they always turn out fine. So, we made our way to SC. While I sat and poured over paperwork with my grandma, my mom and the girls played, did arts and crafts projects, walked Coco, and ate enough popsicles to last a summer.
Then, once we’d accomplished a satisfactory amount of business for at least this trip, I was able to turn my attention towards simply enjoying being home. All in all, though it turned out to be a long day, getting a chance to hang out with my siblings, both my parents (albeit on opposite sides of town) and my nieces and nephews made it all worth while.
That’s what I call, putting myself in the path. Because as I’ve learned now in my nearly 40 years, no one else is responsible for my happiness besides me. In addition, with the added stress of managing multiple households and carrying the financial burden of multiple generations, something, somewhere has got to give.
Prior to heading up to South Carolina I did a thing. It’s something I probably wouldn’t have done a few years ago, but thank God for growth. Here’s what I wrote in my journal that evening:
This afternoon I choose myself. Not all day, or even for the whole afternoon. But for this moment, sitting here in the warmth of the sunlight in my favorite chair in the living room, during my favorite time of the day. I gave the girls their devices, I logged off my final work call of the week, gathered four slices of cake (which I’ve now eaten), along with my requisite edamame to balance it out, and I choose me.
As Shauna says, I need a disproportionate amount of care right now, and the one who is responsible for that care is me. I can’t assume that someone else will do it; it’s my responsibility to create a rhythm for my life that nurtures me, that brings me joy, that allows me to flourish, even, given the weight of things I’m carrying.
Here’s to putting ourselves in the path. Whether that path leads to making memories with loved ones while time is still on your side, or planning for the the future if you have the means and capacity to do so. I’m just grateful for the journey.