The Practice of The Missing Homework
"So where IS your math packet?"
Sunday night, 30 minutes past when my son was supposed to be in bed, and suddenly we are searching for a math packet that mysteriously disappeared from his desk.
(What the resulting search for homework felt like:
For the adults, a mighty quest; for the kids, extra play time.)
We'd already spent the past hour and a half preparing for bed. I'd left plenty of time for the whole routine - the bath and drying time, the dinner and discussion and inevitable return asking for dessert, reading time, even a few extra minutes for these lost homework episodes.
But I hadn't planned on this.
All that is going through my mind is how crabby he's going to be tomorrow morning because he's getting less sleep, how I'm going to explain to the teacher the lost homework and how HE'S going to explain it and what we are going to do about it, how I'm losing time that I NEED to work and respond to emails and finish up that painting.
All the while, I'm getting more and more anxious and crabbier with my son.
And yes, the homework was found. Yes, he finally got to bed. And here I am, working.
All I remember of the last few hours is stress.
And right now, my stomach still churns a bit and my breath is still shallow.
All of that worry, all of this anxiety.
You've been there too. (Whether or not you have kids who misplace their homework assignments.)
The result? I'm stressed right now. Not exactly the state I want to be in.
Time and time again, I am offered these scenarios in which to practice. The kids lost their homework. The construction has traffic backed up and I'm going to be late to my daughter's classroom. I forgot to respond to an email and now can't find it, I remember two days before it's due that I have a guest post to write, friends call up at the last minute to see if we have plans for the weekend.
The situations might be "bad" or they might be "good", but they all cause a bit of anxiety. It isn't what I expected would happen. There are suddenly things now added to my expectations of what will happen.
All the while, I'm forgetting about what is happening right now.
I'm one step ahead or behind of myself, one anxious bit out of harmony with the present moment. I can't be with what is happening because what MIGHT happen is far too scary, far too unacceptable. I have to find a way to control it, to change things, to...
and whoosh, the moment is gone.
Several moments later, be they marked by minutes or years, I find myself STILL anxious, STILL stressed.
So what good was all of that worry? A bunch of missed moments is what it amounts to.
I'll still tense up the next time the homework goes missing. And I'd rather not repeat here the words that will come out of my mouth the next time they decide to close off 10th street without notifying anyone.
But I'll also keep practicing, dropping into moment after moment, trying to remember (re-member, to come back together), and remembering not to try....but rather just to be.
I wish the same practice for you.