I was up before the alarm, listening to the rain pound the window and stream from the drain pipe. The cats crunched the food I had poured in their bowls and the coffee maker hummed encouragingly as it heated up in anticipation of that first cup of coffee. Despite the variety of noises, there was a feeling of calmness that seems to exist only in the early morning hours, a feeling I had been experiencing way too infrequently of late.
The wind periodically shoved the rain against the window. It looked like it was going to be another stormy day, and in a couple of hours I would need to be in the thick of it. But not yet. For the time being, I got to sit inside my home, safe and warm and dry, contentedly composing lines of text. I didn't need to worry about what was to come just yet. I could just sit and think and soak in the peacefulness of early morning solitude.
Later, though, I would need to stand out in the rain, waiting to enter my son's school multi-purpose room. This was the day he would be dancing in his final elementary school dance performance. As a teacher, there would be many more performances that I would be attending in the years ahead. But this would be my last one as a mom.
It had taken some finagling for me to be able to attend. This year, his school had decided to hold the performance first thing in the morning instead of putting it on in the evening. That meant missing work. I had intended to take a half-day, but an important grade-level meeting had been scheduled for later in the morning, and I felt myself being pulled in two different directions by my sometimes opposing responsibilities. Thanks to the flexibility of my principal and a couple of my co-workers, we had been able to arrange it so that I could attend the performance and be at work in time to pick up my class from P.E. It made me a little nervous to not be at work at the normal start time, and I felt guilty about asking my co-workers to adjust their schedules, but there was no way I was going to miss this, and I was happy that I wasn't going to have to miss the meeting either. It seemed like a win-win.
The rain continued to fall and the wind continued to howl as I walked across the school playground, struggling to maintain my grip on the over-sized umbrella that threatened to go sailing through the air, taking me with it. My hair blew in all directions and I knew I would look like a hot mess by the time I got to work, but I didn't care. I was going to see my baby dance.
I had expected a few tears during the performance. This was after all, the last time after twelve years of watching such performances, first with my older son, then with my younger son. In a few short months, this would no longer be our school. It was a strange thought, but it wasn't one I dwelled on. As I walked away from the cafeteria after the performance, I felt nothing but happiness. Even though I was in a bit of hurry to get to work, I stopped to watch my son's class return to their classroom. I don't think Jack saw me, but I saw him and the smile on his face, which put a smile on mine.
And for some reason, I had a better day at work after that. I had expected to feel somewhat frazzled with my late arrival and having to leave my class for my meeting, but I didn't. I felt more myself, less distracted and anxious, more patient and calm.
As I sit here now, I wonder if there is a lesson that can be learned from this. I felt more centered on a day that could have easily left me feeling anything but. I don't know exactly why that was, but I think it may have had something to do with having achieved some measure of balance that day. The quiet morning minutes all to myself, the time set aside to just be a mother, followed by hours of being a teacher. Each part of myself had had its moment to be nurtured and fulfilled. No one part had demanded more attention than the others.
Or maybe it's even simpler than that. Maybe if we take the time each morning to soak in the quiet peace that dawn bestows and fill our heart with love, joy, and gratitude, there's simply not enough room left for the stresses and anxiety thrown our way throughout the day to take hold.