Today I need to talk about hamster racing. Yes, really. I saw a flyer at my local pet store about a hamster-ball racing event on Saturday and I came home all charged up. The idea of incorporating two things I love — hamsters and humor — was intoxicating. We started training our hamster, Cookie, and she isn’t at good at hamster-ball running as I may have thought. Though it has led to some great moments. Like me sighing at the end of the evening, realizing that we had forgotten to do our practice, and my teen saying with perfect comic delivery, “What?! Don’t you want to be the mother of a champion?” Then there are the times that we encourage Cookie by singing the Rocky theme song, including when my husband comes in playing it on the iPod. Or when we refer to the hamsters’ quick back-and-forth yard-long runs as similar to Rocky’s runs on the stairs, and the teen starts laughing and says, “See, it’s funny because Cookie hasn’t even seen the movie!” (Actually, Cookie did see the movie and she found it rather derivative. She recommends Etienne! for discerning viewers of the rodent art film.)
Certainly this is a scene of some silly, family fun, but it’s also a strategy. Not for the hamster-ball competition, which we are sure to lose at this point, but for injecting fun into the dreary times. I talked last week about feeling off-balance, and I truly appreciated your responses. But the venting and connecting can’t be the end game, or it’s all too easy to sink into misery. It’s tempting to look over our legitimate reasons for being down, taking our comfort in commiseration and validation. But while we may feel better about our right to feel down, we don’t actually feel better — and that should be the ultimate goal.
We need to allow ourselves, force ourselves even, to take a break from the heaviness and replenish our strength. Take a nap, draw a picture, watch a show, make a collage, pull the weeds, buy some flowers, arrange a closet, or (duh) read a book. You may even engage in the rising sport of hamster racing. In that case, Cookie and I will see you at the next meet.
Yes, we actually had this calendar hanging over Cookie’s cage, and it was hysterical.