By Ian Anderson
I can’t seem to get away from the pressure building across my shoulders (and sinuses) as the weather changes; for all of the winter months I anticipated the bare branches once again filling out with green or white or pink, and now that the colors are reemerging, all the plans to restructure the garden have transformed themselves into wagging fingers.
I know you feel the pressure, too, because it happens every spring, and I can see it in the bloodshot eyes of everyone around me — bloodshot from pollen or overwork or both. And we not only want to get outside again, but we also have plans to work around the house, travel, and accomplish more than is humanly possible. The stillness of winter fools us into thinking that once the thaw is complete, we will be able to progress more than ever before.
That pressure, that weight, is at odds with actual life. Awhile back I came across this in my journal: “When I schedule my days out, I find that my children become my enemy.” That hurts. It happens to us all: we ponder the day to come — or entire seasons to come — and we imagine that this is the day, this is the time of year, that everything I have yet to do will be done. And for those of us who have children (for others it’s a neighbor who wants to talk, or a coworker who apparently finishes work with inhuman speed and accuracy), all it takes for our frustration level to rise is a simple question like, “Daddy, will you read this book to me?”
The problem comes when I can no longer see this question in its innocence — the request for shared time — and I see it as a drain on my day’s work. My day’s work. My — and there it is, that word that assumes the day or the season is my own. You see we’ve planned and planned so much that the expectations grow in our minds into a kind of certainty; I will go here, I will do this, I will get this done.
And then, “Hey, do you have a minute?”
No, I don’t. I don’t have a minute when the wagging fin- gers point out that the grass won’t plant itself, or the papers won’t magically be graded on time, or my book won’t write its own ending, or, or, or…
But I don’t want my boys to be my enemies. And so, today, this spring, I will imagine my schedule, and I will make my plans, but one of them will be to create room for baseball in the backyard where there’s plenty of dirt waiting for grass seed.
Ian Anderson is a teacher, a husband, and a dad. He lives with his family in Central Kansas. Occasionally, he tweets here: @ian_writes.