Milestones. Most people think of them in terms of long periods of time. Think of a baby. First tooth. First word. First step. These are all milestones that usually occur years apart. Well, some of us have to set much shorter goals just to get through daily life. When I say short. I mean short.
I have a daily milestone…of 8:02 AM.
8:02 AM. Every. Day.
I have two kids.
One in 6th grade and one in kinder. They go to school across town so it takes about 20 minutes each morning to get there.
I’m up. “Crap we’re going to be late”…I think although we’re rarely ever late.
I wake them up. I smile…I try to get them ready to face the day. Whether I am ready to or not…and I’m usually quite honestly not.
One of them is out of bed and in the bathroom the other is not. This alternates day by day. By now my glimmer of optimism is already fading. We have to get moving. We can’t be late. We can’t be late. We can’t be late! Why? I don't know why...we just can't be late.
This is where things pick up. We spend the next hour arguing. Looking for things. Finding things. Losing things. Forgetting things. Remembering things.
We finally get in the car. Most of the time the girls are eating in the backseat, because we ran out time for a proper sit down breakfast. Sigh. I think…they eat too much sugar…this is my fault. They're going to get sick I think. I am failing at something as simple as feeding my kids. I shake the thought.
I ask them if they have on their seatbelts and they say yes. We are on our way.
We make the drive across town. We reach the school.
It's time to drop them off. How? Should I use the drop off line? No too much traffic. What if I don't get through the gate on time? What if a child runs out in front of me? What if my car stalls in front of everyone, how embarrassing. Not doing it.
Maybe the parking lot? No. What if I drive over there and there isn't a space. What if I get stuck in traffic over there...there is no way I would just let them get out of the car without me if I get stuck. I decide to just park in the adjacent neighborhood and walk the girls over. It's quieter and safer. We need to hurry though, we can't be late.
The first bell rings.
I tell them both I love them. That I hope they have a good day.
I think to myself...I hope they have a good day. I churn over in my head all the bad things that could possibly happen. I resist the urge to go get them and put them back in the car and take them back home with me where I know they will be safe. I shake the thought. Is that smoke I see coming from the refinery nearby? My heart begins to race...I’m starting to sweat. I want to leave. I want to grab them and just leave. I don’t.
The second bell rings.
I hang around the campus. I listen to the pledge. I hear them sing a song and watch the lines of children file into their classrooms.
I walk back to the car...down the street...in the neighborhood.
By this time it is 8:02 AM.
I made it.
I did the first thing of the day. So what do I do now? I celebrate.
What does that mean? Well it depends on the day. Most of the time the celebration is me sitting in my car in silence. I need this moment every day to collect my thoughts…to calm my nerves to prepare for the rest of the day. I work outside of the home and I commute…so without this moment of solace I arrive at work a jittery mess. It’s essential I give myself this moment of peace each and every day.
Sometimes I sit and stare straight ahead. Sometimes I pull out my phone an scroll through social media to find out what is going on In the world. Other times I clean out my inboxes, because I hate clutter…mental or otherwise. Sometimes quite honestly I sit there…in my car…and have a good cry. Sometimes it’s just silent tears of stress and relief streaming down my face, other times there are audible components. Knowing that I have hours upon hours of being out of my comfort zone ahead of me and that I have to do it all again the next day...I just have to cry it out before I can carry on.
I give myself at least half an hour in this space. So 8:32 AM it's time to move on. Time to set and go for the next milestone. After 8:02 AM the new milestone is different every day. It could be as simple as remembering to eat breakfast…or as complex as mentally preparing to be on live TV.
So, that’s how my day is started...how about you? Do you need a small milestone to kickstart your day?
When is your 8:02 AM?
This is me: PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)