I know there are other lines to the "Silent Night, Holy Night" song...I know there is a bigger story told through the verses, one that is beautiful and full of hope. But today, one line seems to loop through my head...
All is calm, all is bright.
I let it continue to scroll through my mind, although admittedly it is taken out of the Christmas-story context in my overactive brain. Today it is more of a mantra refocusing me and reminding me to look towards the calm and bright. Because sometimes I tend to lean more towards the angst and darkness.
My in-laws left this morning after a fabulous week with us...tears were shed, as usual. Sigh. It doesn't get easier.
I am focusing on calm and bright very intentionally, because it was not forthcoming earlier today. I had a decision to make after Zoe and I waved forlornly from the window as Zach and his parents headed to the airport. I could focus on the sadness of the goodbye, on the stab of pain I felt that our baby doesn't get to spend regular time with her wonderful grandparents (on both sides), on the awful quiet of a house after guests leave, and (the straw that threatens to break the camel's back) on the fact that the top stand of lights on our Christmas tree weakly zapped out when I plugged them in this morning (*wails*)...
Or I could focus on the sweet memories of the last week, of how Zoe adored her Mimi and Poppy and how they loved on her, of experiencing Zoe's first Christmas, of traipsing through multiple Christmas markets, of watching the snow fall over the last two days, and of a day at home, warm and cozy with my little family while the brightness of the snow reflects almost-sunshiny light through our windows in spite of the cloudy sky.
I still really fight despair and the potential to spiral downward into the regrets and disappointment of living so far away from our families, of Zoe growing up seeing her grandparents way less often than we all would prefer. It makes me overwhelmingly sad if I really let myself think about it. Sometimes even when I am not thinking about it too hard, it just washes over me like a wave I didn't see coming. Earlier Zach and I were talking about something completely silly, like the weather and our plans for the next two days, when I just burst into tears because it breaks my heart that Zoe is growing up so fast, that her grandparents love her so much, that she has SO much fun interacting with them...yet that interaction happens so infrequently right now. Such a sneak-attack meltdown.
I know that this is a short season, and that in a few months we'll be back in the states (and hopefully in the southeast, so much closer to our families) and things won't always be like this. I KNOW that. I know I should (and I do) absolutely cherish the fact that our baby's first Christmas was spent with her Mimi and Poppy. But it's still a bittersweet feeling, all of this joy of watching your baby grow up and the pain of having that baby so far away from the people we love so much.
So to regain some focus and reverse the downward spiral, I took a little self-imposed time out, got my winter gear on, hooked Olive to her leash and we took off on a solo (sans baby and husband) walk through the calm, bright, snowy landscape.
This is what needs to happen sometimes. Get up. Get out. Just a little jumpstart to recalibrate. To zero in on the calm and bright. It doesn't always come so easily or naturally, but it's a choice...for me at least. So we got out in that 19-degree frigid air and tromped through the snow and I took deep breaths and reminded myself that it's ok to be sad but that it shouldn't overshadow or rob me of the joy. There was a little encouraging pep talk. A lot of enjoying the snow-covered landscape. A teensy bit of wallowing, followed by a mental pat on the back for all the self-improvement that was going on (you recall I'm a fan of long and dramatic wallows). And then we came back home, Olive and I, freezing our buns (tails) off, but a little more clear-headed and ready to embrace calm and bright.
Right now, as I write this, calm and bright is easier to grasp. Big Z sits on the couch across from me, reading his book.
Olive is curled up on her bed, snoozing.
Little Z is playing contentedly with her new Leapfrog learning table, which is alternately singing the alphabet or belting out colors and shapes with great enthusiasm (good news: when I get tired of hearing that, I can switch it to Español and hear "amarillooooo!" instead of "yelllllooow!"
I scrolled through all my pictures of the last week and smiled and focused on the good memories of the time we had together and not the tiny minor detail of the months in between our next time together. I'm now feeling ready to fully embrace the calm quiet of a snowy Sunday with no place to be and nothing on the to-do list.
All is calm...all is bright.