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We Don’t Do a Good Job Celebrating a Calm Heart or a Calm Life

·661 words·4 mins
Mental Health

I’m writing this post on the first day after a very busy, unusual week. My mother and grandmother came all the way from Maine to visit me for the first time in Texas, where I’ve lived for 3 years. Prior to that, I lived in Ohio for about a decade. My mother had visited me multiple times in Ohio, back when my father was still alive (he passed in 2020), but this was the first time my grandmother had ventured out to see me since I moved out of state.

It was, in fact, the first time she had ever ventured out of state to visit a grandchild, she informed me one morning as I picked them up from their hotel to show them around for the day. And I was of course very honored by this. My grandmother is incredible. She’s had more than her share of life challenges and has yet somehow remained kind and frankly wonderful to be around. How? I do not know. It is some kind of ancient magic most likely.

My mother is cut from different cloth. She complains about every minor inconvenience. Has zero chill. She also tends to tell you she wants to do one thing (arguing with what you had planned for her), and when you make it happen, she complains that it wasn’t fun after all. It has always been utterly exhausting — and remained so this past week.

Anyway, as I live in a big city where driving is rather perilous and they’re both older and from the country, I put them up at a hotel less than a mile from my place and drove them everywhere for the week. By the end of the visit, I was predictably exhausted but have some very good memories to show for it, ones that I’ll be thinking about for a long time.

Today is the first day I was able to get back to my normal work routine. And I have to admit that when I sat down at my writing desk, knowing full well that I wasn’t waiting for a text or a call that would call me away on tour guide duty, I felt relief. Excitement.

“Your Life Is Too Quiet, You Need More In It”

The last time Mom visited me, 4 years ago in Ohio, she was very critical of my life. “Your life is too quiet. You really need a dog or a kid or something.”

I was thinking about that previous comment the entire time I hosted her this past week. I kept expecting her to say it again. But she didn’t.

And instead, the two of them kept pointing out the small relaxing comforts of my life — the way my cockatiel bounces around the apartment and chirps affably. The sweet naps my cats take in sunbeams. The soothing music of the fountains in the neighborhood parks. The sunshine. The thoughtful decor in my home that soothes the eye, how quiet my apartment building tends to be (a stroke of luck).

At every opportunity, the quiet and calm of my life were pointed out and regaled instead of insulted or pinpointed as a defect.

At the time my mother made the original comment, my life was actually considerably noisier and more colorful than she realized. Because my active social life had been tucked away for the week, since I was busy hosting her. This time around, I’m emerging from a multi-year pandemic cycle with only a few local friends. (Not zero local friends, which really is a testament to my ability to make friends, since making friends as an adult during a pandemic qualifies as fiendish difficulty.)

This time around, the quiet and calm are real. In my home. And in my heart.

We don’t do a good job celebrating a calm heart or a calm life. But now that I’ve experienced both, I can honestly tell you that there’s nothing I enjoy more.


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