Sometimes the stress is so thick in our house you could cut it with a knife. It finds its way in at the beginning of each semester and settles in like it belongs here, one of the family. It creeps in through the pressures of going to school with a family, through the lack of sleep, through high expectations and perfectionism, through the roller coaster ride of emotions. It builds with each passing week, becoming more tangible as the semester progresses, peaking higher with each wave of exams, building as finals approach. In school, there is no reprieve, no moment when all the work is done and you can breathe, until the semester is over.
Last Friday was an exam day. One with extra pressure: the professor announced that anyone getting a 95% or above on the exam was exempt from the final. Mitch studied hard, wrote furiously during the exam, checked his work, turned it in, walked out, and began the wait. Full of the nervous energy that is the result of any exam he passed his day, plowing into the work yet to be completed. Hours were spent on a group project (its own form of stress for a perfectionist). When he came home that night you could see the cloud around him, trying to engulf him, the nagging voice telling him 'you're not good enough, you should have done better...' The lies that beat us down.
An evening of laughter is good for the soul, it speaks the truth to you, it opens up new horizons, it lets the light in again, it strengthens connections in our family. Struggling to be energetic, lighthearted and carefree, wishing it was not a struggle, loving and feeling the full knowledge of being loved in return no matter what. No matter your struggles, no matter the other voices in your head trying to beat you down.
That night I was lying with the girls putting them to sleep when Mitch came bursting into the room dancing a jig (literally). He was trying to make it a subdued, 'you can still go to sleep girls' sort of a jig, but failing. You could tell by the huge grin on his face, the kind that puts happy wrinkles all over your face and a twinkle in your eye, that he had received good news. Sometimes there is a tangible reward for all your hard work. "No final for you," I asked?
"I got a 100%," was the reply.
Way to go, Mitch. You deserve it.