I wake up 10 minutes late. Various offspring of mine have beaten me to the kitchen. One is eating cereal with banana slices, one is eating cookies he baked for himself after I was already sleeping the night before and one is eating leftover pancakes from I-don’t-know-when. I am out of greens for my smoothie. I start eating the cookies too. Wait I think. It’s not all or nothing. The smoothie sans the greens is still a better choice than the cookies. Goodbyes are said. We love you, use good judgment, be kind, be respectful.
Urgent emails are answered. Gym clothing is looked for in a heap of clean laundry that has accumulated even though three of our four kids officially do their own laundry. I find a working assortment of clean clothes. The socks consist of one orange Sky Zone sock and one dress sock. If anyone’s eyebrows raise I will tell them, it’s a miracle I even made it to the gym.
Before I leave, my morning prayer is abridged but heartfelt. I confirm some meetings, answer a few calls, and attempt to call my grandma. I race out to the gym and forget my water bottle. I drive my beat up 2010 Dodge Caravan into the Lifetime parking lot and sandwich myself amongst the Range Rovers, BMWs, Volvos and Lexuses (Lexi?). I choose weights lighter than most and place my mat between two tiny Lululemon gals. I try to give the class my all but I keep excusing myself to get water.
And so it plays out. It’s not simply a rough start or exclusive to the first segment of my day. My shortcomings have numerous opportunities to make themselves known. In meetings, impulsive things are said, time is wasted, and decisions are sometimes made rashly. My imperfections run way deeper than my mismatched socks. There are inner demons that permeate my body, mind, capabilities, character and soul.
I wander into if-only land. If only I was more organized. If only I wasn’t so forward. And then I come back to the centered place. The reassuring beliefs that make it all ok and digestible: The Holes-By-Design theory. Holes-By-Design theory compares the gaps in our souls to the holes in Swiss cheese. Swiss cheese is supposed to have holes. I’ve never seen an irate customer at the return center at Costco getting a refund on Swiss cheese because it has holes. It’s deeper than acceptance; It’s embracing.
We are here in this world to transform our souls and every factor is perfect for our souls’ unique journey here on earth. This body, this mind, this emotional makeup, this skill set, these parents, this spouse, these kids, this socioeconomic bracket, this community, this time in history. It’s no accident. G-d dealt me this hand because it’s ideal for my growth. Our work in this world is to transform our souls, to become more God-like, more kind, more patient, more tolerant more giving and less judgmental. Wherein lies the deficiency lies the opportunity for growth.
Sometimes when things are particularly challenging and my patience is being worn thin I will say aloud: “This is perfect for my soul’s transformation.” My kids hear this often. One day a child was being particularly sassy and I took away “screen time.” They promptly spiraled into full-blown meltdown mode and in the hysteria said defiantly “this is NOT perfect for my soul’s transformation!” It was one of those parenting moments where I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Wow! They’re listening and absorbing…AND using my lines against me! I chose to laugh out loud. The tantrum subsides. I feel like a wrung out dishrag. I try to regain composure before the next wave of tests comes to wash over me, and I find myself repeating my mantra: “This is perfect for my soul’s transformation.”