Last night I was up late. Not because I was sad about Haley leaving (like Sunday night) or mad (furious, actually) at Kendell like Saturday night, or waiting for Haley to get home (like Friday night).
I couldn't sleep because I was full of lightness.
I tried to put a name to it, to why I wasn't so gobsmackingly exhausted that keeping my eyes open felt like lifting the world's heaviest weight. And then I realized: that was it. Weight. I feel like I've been carrying not just my own life around (trying to keep it organized and spinning), but my kids', too. Haley for obvious reasons, but I've been just as stressed (although not as emotional!) about getting the boys ready for school.
Jake had a tough time this summer trying to decide which high school to go to, and he still needs to study more so he can take the test to get his learner's permit.
Nathan wants to take boxing and guitar lessons and join the mountain climbing gym and he's just so ambitious that I can't help but feel I'm letting him down.
My mom needs help with de-cluttering her house and then trying to sell it.
Kaleb has not been happy about going back to school.
Neighbors needed dinner and the lawn needs to be mowed and I need to read my book club book.
Plus there was how stressed I was about Haley's high school graduation, and before that trying to get her quilt done (which wasn't stressful but I was anxious about finishing it in time) and teaching my Big Picture class and before that preparing my Big Picture class, and I think I have to go all the way back to the end of January to not remember feeling stressed and anxious.
I feel a little bit like Atlas: carrying several lives on my shoulders. Or maybe just on my heavy, heavy eyelids.
But last night? I felt at peace. Haley seemed happy in her new situation, and she'd found a job that day, which felt like the last big hurdle. Kaleb hadn't minded his first day of school. Jake and Nathan were ready for their first days. I'd made the neighbor's dinner (although, I totally botched it by getting it there so late that they'd already eaten something else), Nathan mowed the lawn. I still hadn't cracked open my book yet, nor solved my mom's problems, but they seemed smaller now that my own kids were taken care of.
So I said it aloud to Kendell, who was taking to me instead of sleeping. "I think," I said, "this is the first time I haven't felt stressed since winter." It was that deliciously light feeling, like when you've gone for a walk with ankle weights and then finally taken them off. Like I was floating.
And listen. I love my kids, and I love taking care of them. I wouldn't ever not want to help them out. I will always carry as much of their burden as they'll let me (or as my shoulders have strength for) (or as is healthy for them). Sometimes it's just more stressful than other times.
And it felt so lovely to feel like everyone was in a good spot that I actually tempted fate enough by saying it out loud: "I'm hardly stressed at all."
Never say that out loud.
Here it is, a little more than 24 hours later, and I can't sleep again, only this time not out of lightness. This time out of stress, because we discovered that the bus system in the town where Haley's going to school (the much-touted FREE bus system that was a part of her decision to go to that school because it meant she could still work and not have a car) shuts down every day. At five o'freaking clock in the afternoon.
And the problem with that is that her job (which she was so excited about!) (and which felt like the last hoop to jump through before she was comfortably situated) quite often would require her to work until 10:30.
And it's 2.2 miles away from her dorm.
Call me overprotective but isn't walking 2.2 miles at 10:30 a bad idea?
I am out of steam. I've run on adrenaline and chocolate acai berries for too long. I'm too stressed to talk myself out of being stressed.
I just want so badly for things to be workable for her. For her not to be overwhelmed by all the working and the classes and the studying and the busses. I want her to not have to run on adrenaline and diet vanilla Coke.
Probably there is a lesson here. About letting her figure things out for herself. About me needing to know that I can't fix everything for her anymore—much as I would like to. About me needing to have more faith instead of doubting that things will work out somehow. Or even about me just barely touching with my toe the enormous massif of the world, of her world she has to navigate without me.
But I don't know how to take that in yet, because it feels like I am letting her down. It feels like to her it might feel like her mother doesn't want to help her. Even though I do. Even though carrying her own life on her shoulders is a thing she has to learn how to do, I still want to take some of the weight.
So I am sleepless, and worrying, and anxious.