It’s a simple request, that I come to again and again in this life. Can’t it always be like this? Can’t I hold onto this one lovely movement and keep everything just the same?

That the answer is inevitably no does not sink in. We want what we want, no matter what logic and reality suggest.

Our daughter wants to go back to her abusive, neglectful mom. Our son wants something that sounds like banana but isn’t a banana. I want to live at family camp, from which we just returned. While there were challenges (bedwetting, time outs, sibling and cousin rivalry, cold and dust, near drowning, gas from too much delicious food), it was a blur of joyful, childish fun.

Where else can you get the song Seven Old Ladies Stuck in the Lavatory lodged in your brain and be glad about it? Spend all day outdoors, be cooked for and entertained by way smart college kids that make you hopeful for the future? See more stars in the sky than you ever remember could be there, while munching a fire-roasted marshmallow?

Above all, it was wonderful to spend time with other parents and learn that for so much of what’s going on, it’s not because our kids were abused or neglected. Iit’s because they’re 5 and 2. Kids have tantrums. They lack empathy. You worry they’ll be a serial killer, then they turn out all right. Our straight, successful, “these are our genes” friends have so many of the same challenges and heartaches we do.

Is it possible that everything about a situation could stay the same, but getting a little perspective makes everything easier? Yes, it is.

In other words, I’m finally getting my feet back under me.

I’m still tired, busy, behind at work, scattered, and scrambling to make this new family work. But I’m also feeling like we’re all going to survive it. I’m up to the challenge. There’s a decent chance we’ll be able to raise our kids without divorce, bankruptcy, or insanity. It’s not all due to a week at Lair of the Golden Bear with our kids and godson, but I’d give Oski a great deal of credit.

Mark Morford (a wonderful bay area writer) has a great piece, 101 easy steps to having it all, where he responds to an Atlantic Monthly story with a lovely burst-the-balloon to our consumer-culture goal of having the perfect career and family with no sacrifices:

“Of course, it’s a total lie. You cannot really work like a maniac and build a lauded career without sacrificing some level of health and family (and sanity). You cannot focus deep attention on the messy madness of family without missing a few hundred essential business meetings to take the kids to the volleyball tournament.”

But he reminds us that if we stop trying to have it all, stop “thinking it can be figured out, achieved, claimed as your own,” there is a simple, classic path to joy:

“Being so deeply present, so connected, so alive, so pulsing and breathing and awake in the moment you are in that no matter what your job status, kid status, celebrity status, no matter where you live or to whom you are married, life is already full to bursting. You have it all in this very breath, right here.”

I haven’t found a way to live at Disneyland, or summer camp, or any of my other dream locations. But I’m so grateful they’ve given me a vision of lovely, perfect joy, that will always live in me in some way.