When my youngest is at gymnastics I sit on a cold metal folding chair and I watch her on the balance beam. I can see the determination in her face and see her arms out as she wobbles a bit, then catches herself a step in and refocuses. Now and then she slips. But most of the time, she catches herself off-balance and continues on. Her teacher follows a step behind when she is on the high beam, allowing her to find her own strength and balance, but there in case she were to freeze or fall.
I balance all the time. I wobble more than she does when I walk. I haven’t worn heels since I fell in them and cracked my elbow. I’m still not sure why it’s called the funny bone. I balance in my running shoes now. Between keeping my house clean and spending my much-needed free time exercising and writing. Staying in to watch another episode of Caillou with a five year old on my lap or going to a Yelp Event with a friend. Going out on a date with my husband, or catching up on the sleep I miss throughout the week. Between researching more services we need and just going to Culver’s and eating ice cream.
Some days I balance better than others. Some days I can smile, I can laugh, I can make those phone calls and doctor appointments easily. Some days all I can picture is a potential hospital visit for a child and my “fight or flight” response kicks in. I freeze. I stare at the neon Post It list of “stuff” I need to accomplish and push my chair away from my desk. I find my blue running shoes and go pound the path with the steady rythym of my steps. Or I put in headphones and go hunting for my favorite feel-good songs and crumple into the feels of those songs. Or I open the pages of a book and immerse myself in someone else’s life for awhile. I feel the clinking of my bracelets reminding me of everything.
But then I refocus and I make those phone calls, I schedule visits with specialists, I ask for help and spend six hours in my van to steal a night away with my husband where I can dress up and feel like the fifteen year old girl he asked out years ago. I can wear a fiery red dress and heels and feel my legs ache from the hill I walked a few hours before. I can fill my tub with hot water and turn on the jets, closing my eyes for a few minutes just listening to the pounding of the water.
I might not be graceful always on my walk. I might sometimes close my own eyes and repeat the Serenity Prayer or look at my bracelets for inspiration. I might text someone close to me for just a single boost. But I continue. And I make it. I wobble, I catch myself. I feel my family and friends a step behind, ready to hold their arms up if I need them.
But just like she does I continue. Because that’s what I do. I breathe. And repeat.