A walk in the fresh air always makes everything better

You know how it goes.  Take a little basic stress, add in some normal family dynamics; sprinkle with a few messy teenage bedrooms and some laundry pile-ups; season with a pending departure for a few days out of town, and what do you have?  The recipe for a perfect batch of family squabbling!

We are supposed to leave today for a mini-road trip with our kids.  It’s nothing major; just a much-needed few days away together to laugh, chill and generally hang out as a family.  Unfortunately, my Dad has been quite sick in hospital, so we really didn’t think we were going to want to be away, and we had left the final decision until this morning.  I’m happy to say that he is doing much better, and he has joined everyone in insisting that we head out for our little break.  You can understand how the lead-up to today has been very stressful, and we are all exhausted; physically and emotionally.

As we made our decision to go ahead this morning, we roused the kids and told them of our plan.  For some reason, this was the time that we discovered a multitude of neglected chores, messy bedrooms and undone laundry.  It seemed like there was a mountain of work to be done before we were even going to be able to hit the road.  With fuses already short from stress and fatigue, our tempers flared and we all started bickering.  At one point, I announced that it just seemed like too much trouble for a few days, and that we should just skip it altogether and stay home.

Through all of this rising hubub, a large brown dog lay quietly in the corner on the kitchen floor; his soulful eyes moving back and forth between the arguing family members.  I’m not sure what he was thinking, but I know that he could feel the stress level going up.  He always seems to retreat a bit when voices are raised in our house.  I have no doubt that he feels the negative energy, and it clearly affects him as well.

After my final outburst, I looked down at him and announced, “Gus and I are going for a walk!”  And off we went.

It’s beautiful outside today.  The humidity of the past week has cleared, and there was a cool breeze blowing down the street; rustling the leaves as we set out.  This morning’s rain had left everything smelling fresh and renewed, yet there were still a few drops falling from the trees as we passed under them.  The sun danced in and out from behind the clouds, and I felt my tension start to ease up as we headed down the street; falling into our familiar rhythm together.

We walked for almost an hour, and I found myself letting go of the issues that had seemed so important and annoying back in the house.  Do I really care if the kids’ rooms are clean?  So what if there’s laundry waiting for us on Saturday.  Everything will be ok with Dad, and the rest of the family can manage without me for a few days.  At one point, Gus turned back and looked at me with his goofy smile, and I could swear he seemed to be saying “see Mom . . . isn’t everything better once you get outside!”

By the time we rounded the corner to head back towards home, my head felt clearer and my steps were lighter.  I was ready to walk in the door with a smile and move into gear for our family getaway.  As the icing on the cake, a woman suddenly called out and waved to me from across the street.  I could tell she didn’t speak English, because she only made hand gestures, but she waved and pointed at Gus, and then gave me a huge smile and a double thumbs-up sign.  Gus had worked his magic again!

2 Responses

  1. Has Gus had MINDFULNESS training? Sounds like he helped you open the door… and breathe.
    Hope your time away together was very special…
    You all needed that respite…

  2. […] Good for you!  I know that my mom has been writing a lot about how I help her to unwind, and how getting outside every day with me helps her to balance out all the other stuff she has to deal with.  Whatever […]

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