When Tom and I first met, we spent many a long, sunny afternoon in his back garden, discussing the nature of life, the universe and everything. Could a machine be invented that recorded a person’s nightly dreams so that they could be experienced by another? How was it possible that we were both pastor’s kids and yet have such wildly different backgrounds? And when we cycle through life, do we really come back full circle or do we continually spiral forwards or backwards, depending on what we’ve learned?
This past month I let my Playful Self-Discipline practice slide while we were traveling. It wasn’t really a planned break, but when I arrived at our seaside cottage and discovered that our smartphone-based portable hotspot internet connection was pretty much equivalent to dial-up, I was put off of sitting in front of the computer at all.
This experience was great in some ways – I had pretty much an internet-free month and realized how much more time I have when I’m not compulsively sitting down to check my email for the 358th time that day. But I realized that I missed the practice of writing regularly, and my inclination to be accountable to myself (and you, my readers) faded away.
The hard truth is that accountability never goes away. Even if you avoid being accountable to others you will still be accountable to yourself at the end of the day. And the choices we make do matter, to ourselves and to others.
I made some choices I wasn’t expecting to make while I was away. I actively weaned Claire. We decided that Tom should be the primary driver of our rental car, even though that meant the girls and I were in rural Ireland without our own transportation for a couple of days a week while Tom was working. And I chose to let my bored children watch video after video while I visited with friends and relatives.
All of these choices, combined with jet-lag, being in another culture for a month, staying with other people, not spending as much one-on-one time with my girls and the hormonal effect of weaning, well, it hasn’t been very pretty over the past few days. I haven’t exactly been a shining beacon of self-control and disciplined intention.
So. I’m disappointed in myself for freaking out at the girls when we’re all totally jet-lagged and grumpy. I feel like I’m back where I started last year, having childish tantrums myself when things don’t go my way. But I know that everything I learned over the past year is still tucked away in there. Even though I feel like I’ve slid backwards I’m really a little bit ahead of where I started each time I spiral around. I’m aiming towards a progressive vortex, not a static one.
Today I will make my bed, floss my teeth, go for a walk and eat a healthy dinner. I will spend time working with my kids instead of against them. I will do a silly troll dance and laugh at the hilarity of it all. I will fold the laundry, get back to my routine and look ahead to a new day, a new month, a new year, a new cycle.