Yesterday Jeffrey and I woke up stressed and anxious.  "What are we going to get the kids? We have no presents, and no money, and Solstice is tomorrow!"  We took turns calming each other down by listing the few presents we had acquired already, and the ideas we had for other gifts.  One day loomed before us — to drive an hour and a half away for a good deal on a ping pong table, to come up with better ideas for smaller presents, to see if last-minute online purchases actually got delivered, to get treats for stockings… not to mention attending a school play, making mashed potatoes for the class party, and wrapping all the gifts (whatever they might be).  We spent the early morning tense and frustrated with ourselves for not having it all together ahead of time.

At one point, I asked him, "What do we need to do to be less stressed about this?  Should we just move Solstice?  Celebrate on Sunday?  Or Christmas Eve?  Or really buckle down and do it today, just figure it out and go with it?"  We decided to go for it, to make the best of it and stop being stressed about what we hadn’t done beforehand.  We talked by phone every hour, bouncing ideas off of each other and me searching Craigslist while he drove around town.  And it worked!  This morning was full of suprises for the kids (including a ping pong ball wrapped in a big box… just enough of a clue to send them running to find the table in the back room, where we had forbidden them from entering all yesterday evening).  Best of all, Jeffrey and I worked as a team to make it happen, stepping out of blame and anger ("Why didn’t you think of that earlier?") and into acceptance of the reality we were dealing with… and dealing with it together.

Today I’m resting in the awareness that marriage and family are about persistence and patience, not perfection.  It matters less what our lives look like right now — instead, it’s the direction we’re headed in together.  This is my training ground for keeping faith, for stepping forward even when I feel lazy or scared, for breathing through challenges with the belief that deeper strength and connection lie on the other side.  These life partners (Jeffrey and all the kids) are the perfect motivation to push myself to be more loving, more patient, more understanding, more aware.  And then I’m more of who I want to be.