The other day someone asked me if I had ever tried paddle boarding.
I laughed to myself as I pictured what it would be like to try to stand my uncoordinated, clumsy self upright on a board while floating on the ocean with only my balance and a paddle to prevent me from being tossed into the water by a large wave.
No, I have never tried paddle boarding. Never.
But, as I woke the next morning and quickly ran through the ever growing to-do list in my mind, I started to wonder if maybe I have been paddle boarding but just didn't realize it.
Perhaps the act of trying to balance parenting, wifeing (let's pretend it's a real word), friending (another real word), working, home owning and all the other responsibilities that come with adulting, is a bit like balancing on a paddle board.
Some days I can barely even stand up on my paddle board, no matter how calm or still the water is that day and no matter how strong my paddle is at the time.
On those days, days when my 7 year old throws himself to the floor in a full-fledged tantrum because it is time to put his shoes on or days when I get into the car already late for work and realize that my low-tire pressure light is on, all I can do is float and let the waves and ocean guide me.
Some days I find the strength to stand with ease and I am suddenly an expert paddle boarder.
On those days I glide over the ocean's surface, making dinner, folding laundry, paying bills and shuttling my children to and from events on time like a pro. This paddle boarding thing sure feels like second nature on those days.
Some days I even find myself sitting comfortably on the board, my legs dangling playfully over the edge without a care.
On those days my children are happy and polite, my work responsibilities are up to date, my house is clean and my financial stress is low. These are the days when I wish I could freeze time and soak up all the laughter, love, light and pure joy I see around me.
But then, inevitably, the water changes, as it always does, without warning. Some days there is just too much weight on my shoulders. Flat tires. Sick children. Work emergencies. Sick pets. Health concerns. Broken washing machines. Suddenly I am seasick and just want to angrily cast aside my stupid paddle and board and give up. It's too much. It's too hard. I'm not built for paddle boarding.
The negative self talk gets louder. What was I thinking? Why is everyone else out there balancing so beautifully on their boards today? What is wrong with me?
On those days, all I can do is plunk myself down on my board, legs criss-crossed-applesauce and sit there, holding on to the board for dear life, hoping that tomorrow will be a better day.
But no matter what kind of day I’m having, the truth is that I’m not the only one out here paddle boarding my way through adulthood.
When I pick my eyes up and really look around me, I can see that I am surrounded by a sea of other paddle boarders. While some may be struggling, some may be making it look effortless, and some may be navigating treacherous waters, all of us can benefit from remembering that we are not completely alone.
Maybe today is a good day to reach out to some of your fellow paddle boarders - because it turns out there are a lot of us out here in the ocean of adulthood - just trying our best to balance and not fall off our boards.
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