It was an innocent enough statement. A few weeks ago, as dusk settled, I walked into the bedroom to start getting ready for bed. It had been one of those days– the kind that you go through at breakneck speed, where there’s no time to use the bathroom or rest, and I was just ready to wash my face and crawl into bed with a book. Even if it was 7:45.
But in the bedroom, I found BF on the phone with my mom. I had talked to her earlier that day and whatever story- I can’t remember it now- that I had relayed to BF about my parents had made him want to call them now. I kept walking into the bathroom, but BF followed me.
“Here’s Rosie, Abucita,” he said abruptly and handed me the phone. That’s the thing about BF. He likes the idea of calling someone and checking in. He does not, however, like the actual talking that has to be done in order to check in, especially if it pushes past a few sentences. And with my mom, it always pushes past a few sentences.
I sighed dramatically and said into the phone, “BF just handed me the phone while I was getting ready for bed, Mamacita.”
A cheeky conversation ensued where I lamented that all I wanted was a minute of peace where I didn’t have to talk to anyone or deal with anyone’s needs and could just wash my face in… emphasis here… peace. My mom and I have this kind of relationship where we can just be very real, and it doesn’t offend and my delivery was melodramatic enough to make her laugh. But then she said it, and, though she probably just meant it to be funny, it has stayed with me ever since.
“Oh, honey, nobody has peace. Peace is an illusion. We can want it all we want, but it’s never going to happen.”
Weeks later, I am still thinking about that. Peace is an illusion.
So I bought the card and posted it on my desk in my office. I was at the point where I was grown enough to know that life didn’t have as much of the easiness that I thought adulthood might offer, that it was always going to be a bit of a wild ride. And so I wanted to have a calm heart, to internally claim some calm in the storm. And, in general, I found that I could indeed have that. My internal barometer was pretty even, perhaps a combination of my temperament, decisions, the writing I did to process experiences and give them perspective, massage, yoga, and the time I spent either running or biking. Sure, there were times when my peace was on a wobbly slope (I was a college administrator at the time and I can recall even now the anxiety I felt when sending my students states or continents away for service trips and how it stayed really, a dull ache in my stomach, until they safely returned), but, for the most part, I had that calm in my heart.
Then came parenthood. And the calm in my heart dissipated some. It’s not that parenting isn’t thrilling or satisfying, it is both. But my heart just can’t be calm in the way that it used to be because, well, it’s running around outside my chest in the form of a three year old boy. And anything can happen to a three year old boy at any time. He could get hurt or be hurt (just the other day, there were the big kids- not so much bigger than him but big enough to him to be the coolest- who walked away when he so eagerly walked up to them. They were big kids that he knew and had played with in iterations of one or two but never as a group and, in this big kid group, they weren’t having him and though he turned and found something else to occupy him; I couldn’t keep my eyes from tearing.) Then, of course, there is the crush of balancing work and home life and, well, peace seems a distant visitor to my heart and mind, though I pine for it, the way that I pined for my crushes when I was young.
And, so, I return to my mom’s comment. Is peace indeed an illusion at this point in my life? Or is that old crucible from my desk still a possibility, I can be calm again in my heart and mind? The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Things will probably never again be effortlessly calm but there will be moments, more than fleeting, I think, where peace can reside within. So, I’m making the effort, welcoming it in, being as hospitable as possible so it wishes to stay and then calling my alternately funny or insightful mom when the mean boys distract.