Pinball Wizard

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

“Can you try to calm down?” Ben asked me.

I dropped what I was doing in the kitchen, said I would be back later, picked up my keys and wallet and walked (some might say “stormed”) out the front door. It was 10:30 a.m.

Gus had been screaming all morning. Ellie was getting into everything and couldn’t be left alone. Jack kept saying he needed my help, but I knew that he really just wanted some attention. Ben had been on the phone with clients all morning and I could tell that he was annoyed because the kids were being so loud. I was still in my pajamas and my head was about to explode.

I don’t like pinball. The flashing lights, the noises and the way the ball ricochets so quickly and violently off of the levers and ledges is too much chaos for me. My eyes and hands can’t keep up. But these days, I find myself trapped in my very own game where the kids and Ben each pull the lever to shoot me off into a million different directions.

Just when I get moving towards reaching my destination – whether its successfully transferring an entire load of clothes from the washer to the dryer or even just sending a complete text back to someone who has asked me a question – I am thrown off course and sent zooming another way with obstacles like babies who have dirty diapers and dogs who need to go outside all along my path.

When I left, I got in the car and just drove two blocks to the grocery store. I sat in the parking lot and watched the raindrops run down the window for a few minutes. I remembered a mediation technique that I was taught a few years ago. I closed my eyes, breathed, tried not to fall asleep and told myself that I was OK.  

Jack excitedly met me at the door when I got back home. Unaware of what had happened just 20 minutes before, he gave me a big hug and asked me how my walk had been. Ellie was standing in the den, dancing to the doo wop her daddy was playing for her on his phone. Gus was smiling, satisfied from the big, full bottle Ben had just fed him.

“Two seconds after you walked out the door, everything got quiet in here again,” Ben said. “I don’t know why, but they all calmed down when you left.”

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