Laziness squeezes my hand. After my weeks’ vacation, my pants feel tight around the waist.

I do what I always must do to begin any writing: I send the editor packing.

I spent too long cleaning. Now there’s not time for all the beauty and creativity I long to accomplish. Once the left brain kicks in, the right brain finds a quiet corner and reads. I can’t call her out again. She doesn’t respond to suggestions. She’s done until tomorrow. She knows exactly whether she’s been invited or banished, and she doesn’t play games with a second time around. Shoot! But my dearest, I want to tell her, You’re the real reason for all of it, you and my daughter. The rest is just muckety muck.

Truly? I thought you liked cleaning the dog hair from the purple chair with the wash cloth outside in the misty spring.

No. I just do it because I feel compelled to welcome my daughter home after her week’s college visit trip to a home devoid of out-and-out slovenly disorder. It says, “I keep a house you can trust.”

Yesterday, I noticed a friend’s gorgeous house had a dirty kitchen because her sweet chef of a husband made extraordinary gumbo and remoulade salad and people ate and their dishes piled high and she likely worked until 5 p.m. or so even though it was her birthday.

And her happy children and their friends laughed and sang out in groups. I miss that so much, my child happy. My teenager’s not exactly happy. And is it because I cleaned the chair? Is it my perfectionism? I can hardly take responsibility for the disappearing communities of teens and parents. She’s had such a rocky tween/teen time in this city. Every time I grew attached, rifts appeared until she’s all alone with her phone so much of the time. And I can’t blame her. I must trust that she’ll want to reconnect and open her heart, but there is no guarantee. We were happy, were we not, in South Carolina? Was I imagining the whole thing?

She just spent an entire week with her dad. His report is that she’s done (with him). I kind of wondered myself if the glow of spending more time at his house would fade after a week in his company. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tom. But he is a lousy travel companion. Well, we did okay in Europe I guess. But in general, all this anger kind of coats everything and it always exhausted me trying to keep it at bay. I shiver with the impending responsibility. Somehow, I’ve got it. Somehow, it will be good. I have no idea how. Blind faith has never been my specialty. It’s strange how much anxiety creeps up as the responsibilities return: Being a mom. Work. Deep breaths.

I take a minute and fill my belly with small but strong bites: Cheese almond crackers with spaghetti sauce with sausage, a few roasted salted almonds, fresh peppermint tea. I look at my anxiety dead on. Have I never realized before how terrified I am? And that what? That I’m failing my daughter as a parent and that somehow, she’s missing what she needs and we’re both missing something important that should be happening. I’ve felt that way for years now.

I turn to Christopher’s empowering questions. I ask: How is it resolving that Sasha is happy? That she enjoys her life, has great friends, has fun, has a terrific school/career life, a wonderful love life, and is empowered, healthy, and happy. How is this resolved?

It helps. It helps a lot. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the phrase “Don’t worry, pray.” And I’ve let it sink in all the way to the depths of the core of my being. And yet, yet we must realize it when we’re worrying, we must both realize our fear and bring it out of its dark cave in order to make any kind of choice about it. It’s taken a week’s vacation from parenting for my fears to depart and me to recover for me to look at them and see their returning dark coyote shapes. How does this resolve, dear life?

Also, this: How is my career nourishing and flourishing me, how does it feed me and feed the world? Also: how is whatever needs resolving with my work resolving with ease and grace, truth and healing? Please. It’s all I can do, but I’ve got to pray. Because I want the coyotes around me at the fire. I don’t want them slinking off to do damage. I want their companionship. I want to play music with them.

I stop, fold my hands and pray. I’m afraid of what’s coming, and so I pray that despite the fact it feels beyond me, that it all goes as well as it’s possible for it to go. That I am the mom Sasha needs despite all my thoughts of what I should be and how I’m failing. Or darker thoughts about her, a reflection of mine, about what she should be and how she’s failing. None of that’s real. None of that matters. Please clear the clouds of darkness from my being and my vision so I can serve the greatest good, please God. I’m the first one to admit I haven’t got a clue. It’s got to be you.

God answers:

You’ve got this. You’ve both got this.

And so, it’s true. We must, and do.