For the last few months one of my sons has been out of school with health problems. At a recent doctor’s visit, they picked up something rather concerning with his heart, unrelated to the original condition.

A trip to another doctor the next day confirmed that there was definitely an issue in his heart, and it was definitely concerning. We got an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist, and when that office got his records they called us and asked if we could come in the next day.

And you know that’s never good.

So, off we went to the cardiologist, who was really nice. Unlike many adult specialists, I must say that all of the pediatric specialists I have dealt with in Seattle seem to be patient and warm, willing to explain things without being condescending. They all take as much time as you need, in spite of everything I am constantly hearing about how doctors are spending less and less time with their patients. And this cardiologist was no exception. We were there for quite a while, since my son required a whole battery of tests. There were several things that needed to be ruled out, the most concerning of which was a hole in his heart that would have required surgery.

And I am very relieved to announce, to nobody in particular, that my son is hole-free.

It’s so bizarre how when something like this is weighing on you your world becomes all tunnel-vision. The other thousand things that were on my mind took a distant second place until this was resolved, and after we got this news those other things seemed way less important.

That’s not to say that I have put everything into correct perspective and I am now here to share with you the secrets to better living! Ho, no, my friends! I am still sweating the small stuff and perseverating over minutiae. To wit:

* Another of my kids has a job every week to collect all of the garbage and recycling from around the house and take it to the curb on Thursday night (our pick-up is on Friday morning). Consistently- like, without fail, this dear child with leave some of the cans full and untouched, and SWEAR that those cans are not supposed to be taken out or that nobody said to empty them or that they didn’t have trash in them, or some other excuse. This morning had me wondering what kind of spouse this child would make (overreaction, anyone???) if this is the type of shoddy work they do when they are given a job…

* I will regularly lie awake at night thinking about things like whether it is cheaper to throw leftover food in the trash (we pay for garbage collection and we only get to put a certain amount in the container each week) or in the food waste container (which is enormous, but we pay for bags to collect it in that we use in the house. We have tried just using a container and dumping it straight into the outside bin, but that doesn’t work well for our family. I don’t want to talk about it.). Can we afford $10 a month either way? Yes. So why do I care? Because I do. Truthfully I would be better off getting the extra sleep, but tell that to my brain.

* We keep extra blankets on shelves in my laundry room. They need to be refolded neatly (technically they don’t need to be refolded. In truth I would just prefer for them to look neater…), but most of the time I am too sore and achy to do it and nobody else really cares about it. It’s the kind of thing that I could probably get someone else to do if I asked them to, but I had an OCDish parent growing up, and always resented having to do crazy tasks to impossible standards for no particular reason (other than someone else’s mental illness) and I am loathe to inflict similar hell on my own family. On the other hand, this causes me real stress every time I walk into that room. Welcome to my tortured mind…

I could probably go on and on, thinking of examples to entertain you (or horrify you completely) about how skewed my worldview continues to be. I have a good friend who very poignantly talks about how important it is to have a mindset of gratitude, and I think remembering that would help me as well. I think the more I can count my blessings, the less brain space I will have for silliness like the best way to stack bowls in the dishwasher.

I am trying very very hard to use the extremely limited time I am out of bed these days to be of service to others, and at least at those times transcend my own limitations. Some things I can do even in bed, and here is a great one that has touched my heart. It’s a project online that matches up people who are willing to do acts of kindness and compassion in the merit of an Israeli soldier. It matches you up with a soldier who has requested to be in the program, and any time you do a meritorious act, you are asked to please sort of “spiritually dedicate” it to him. Here is a link to the website for more information:

I don’t want to debate the situation in the Middle East with you right now, so let’s not go there. Let’s just hope that we can all be a little more compassionate, a little more loving, a little more holy, and a little less hole-y.