Do you know what meta-feelings are? No? Well, congratulations; you have apparently not gone through some sort of mid-life, pop-psychology crisis that leads you to read self-help books that use words like authenticity, de-cluttering, or said meta-feelings.
So, here’s a quick in dirty definition: meta-feelings are your feelings about your feelings. For example, last night I was feeling a bit guilty for missing what turned out to be the last game of my son’s baseball, but not really all that guilty. My meta-feeling was feeling guilty about not feeling guilty enough. Ya know, the feelings about my feelings.
(There are probably meta-meta-feelings, and meta-meta-meta-feelings, etc., and as a marginally mentally obsessive person, this can get really cluster-f&%%-y. If you think you are getting into multiple meta’s, might I kindly suggest you check out the mental health coverage in your current health care plan. Or pour yourself a drink. The latter is easier.)
I was feeling/not-feeling guilty for good reason: my husband and I had to play splitsies with kids and sports activities. I took my daughter to a swim meet; he took my son to his baseball game.
If you, gentle reader, have experienced either of these events, you know they typically run about the length of a Catholic wedding with a full Mass. To be fair, baseball probably follows the Catholic Mass model closer; you can either totally focus, or zone out completely, but with a quick bit of info (“Have we done the Our Father yet”/”What Inning is This”?) you can catch up quickly. A swim meet, on the other hand, is more like you threw sorority rush in the blender with those last 20 minutes of Thanksgiving dinner prep. In other words, total chaos. (But organized chaos!)
Traditionally, for the last swim meet of the year, they tack on a parent relay race at the end, because “no matter how wretched I may feel, I want to prolong the agony as long as possible.” (That’s a quote from Henrik Ibsen’s Dolls House that I memorized back in high school; still relevant!) I’ve been saying for 3 years now I was going participate someday, because, gosh darn it, I get old just sitting there and watching the young guppies swim. Maybe momma should be in the limelight just once (and maybe get a buddy bag.) So this year, sick of my own talking, I signed myself up!
And then, of course, my daughter was assigned events 1 and 11. (Backstroke and freestyle.)
For perspective, there are roughly 3,145,173 event/heat combinations in a swim meet, give or take a few.
She was 1 and 11. In other words: swim and done. Wrapped up before my son’s baseball game was much past the second inning. (Baseball has 23,504 innings, I think.) Plenty of time to be a good mom and move on out to my son’s b-ball game.
But I didn’t. I would have had to bow out of my own swim.
And I didn’t want to do that. Nope. I was gonna have my swim.
And I did. During the last, chaotic moments of that meet, I round three other women looking for a fourth member (we were to do a relay.) They invited me to swim, and OMG, we were a team! I have teammates again! Posse! We made quick introductions for names I will probably forget soon, planned out our “legs” (who would swim what), and did a quick warm-up lap.
It was at this point, I felt adrenaline. I noted, as a swam across the pool, that I was likely burning* through my fastest time just on this warm up. It was a weird, good, slightly unfamiliar feeling. Adrenaline. Here is what it is not:
- That feeling you get when there are not enough checkout lanes open in the grocery store
- That feeling of sitting in traffic when you are running late
- You’re kids not being able to get into the car when you tell them to
- Finding you iPhone–phew!
- Opening your Visa bill and finding the “payment due” number
- Watching your kid swim
Nope, those feelings are all good and fine, but they are not from adrenaline. They are generic, suburban person-with-kiddos stress. First World Problems, if you will. But that swim? Pure adrenaline, enhanced by my own muscle fibers and flesh. Moving through the water can be amazing at washing away much of that not-really-adrenaline keyed up feeling. And if you get some real adrenaline to boot?
Do it. I highly recommend it.