Checkpoints

gateSafety. Somewhere to fall back on if everything else is blown to pieces. The bunker where we re-charge our life force, restock ammunition, and recalibrate strategy.

Checkpoints. Video games place these at intervals throughout each level. As long as we can drag our butts to a checkpoint, we can save our progress. That way, if the alien invaders or the radioactive zombies attack, maim, and murder us, we can always revert to the last save.

Checkpoints. We all seriously need them. I’m being glib in my introduction, mainly because video games were my first strong association with the word checkpoint when I used it in a relational context. But then I realized how appropriate the video game analogy was.

My husband and I are trying to resuscitate the habit of using checkpoints for ourselves, and its not easy. Maybe it’s a little easier than surviving the zompocalypse, but life with a newborn is no Sunday picnic in the park. (Yes I hear you other parents snorting! “Wait till she has more than one kid! Bahaha!”)

This checkpoint deficiency isn’t a newfound need. We’ve just spun into modes of hyper-busyness, and didn’t realize what we’d lost in the midst of it. Until now.

I need time to look my husband in the eye and quietly hear and be heard. I need a space free of interruptions and chores and scheduling sessions. If we’re talking about the ideal setting…a glass of wine wouldn’t hurt. Candles help.

Or maybe the checkpoint is an outdoor walk on a nearby hill, plastered in rain-gear as the sky dumps buckets on both our heads. The fresh, almost-spring air pumps through my lungs and my thoughts swirl into new patterns.

I miss regular date night with my husband. I want to rediscover what new dreams we can build together. There are three of us in the family now. The dreams we plant will include out son, and I can hardly envision what that means.

We reached our first (was it really our first???) checkpoint on a Saturday morning last week while taking a family walk through a downpour on Queen Anne hill. Coffee came in thermoses filled at home. We bought Top Pot doughnuts. George rode in his stroller and stared in wide-eyed curiosity at his world. I listened to James for what felt like the first time in months.

I need these checkpoints. That way, when the radioactive monsters of over-scheduling, laundry, George’s grumpy teething moods, and interrupted sleep catch up with me and scratch into my flesh and howl in my ears, I know that I have somewhere I can fall back on, a place that fed my soul and armed me with the firepower I needed to face the challenge.

I’m slowly resurrecting these checkpoints so I can hit “save game” more often. I think, with these, I just might start feeling a little more safe, a little more sane…

…a little more me.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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