What a Raccoon In My Hallway Taught Me About Myself
Updated: Jun 15
It’s 4:30 am.
The house is quiet, sound asleep.
And then… a noise outside our bedroom. We call to the kids, assuming (ie hoping) it’s them.
No response. Not a peep. Crickets.
Eyes wide, now in FULL alarm mode, I turn to my husband Dave and gently and lovingly encourage him to find out what made the noise.
First thought is obviously a murderer. Second is a robber. Both options far from ideal.
Dave, as only he could do in a ‘late night noise emergency’, is not moving quickly enough for me. I jump up and peek around the door wishing to see a small child sleepwalking from the bathroom.
No such luck.
Instead, much to my horror, it’s an actual live RACCOON perched on the banister right outside our (wide open) bedroom doors.
He looks at me, I look at him. He blinks. I blink.
A swift U Turn brings me back to our bedroom where I update Dave. I let him know that NOW is the time to GET UP and DEAL WITH THIS SITUATION.
To his credit, he kicks into high gear. Goes out, gives the raccoon a major stare down and the big guy (why so big?!) slinks upstairs to a storage closet.
As anyone would do in this situation, I immediately take to Google.
* “Can raccoons open doors” (yes!)
* "Do raccoons attack small dogs” (maybe)
* “Will raccoons kill you in the night” (unlikely)
While I'm researching 'the facts', Dave is in problem solving mode and gets an animal specialist to come and see if he can coax the raccoon out of his hiding place.
The raccoon is sleeping soundly in our hvac system and now LIVES WITH US.
The specialist leaves and promises to return when the raccoon is more active that night.
So, it’s now 7 am and the kids are waking up for school. The excitement is palpable.
What do you mean…. a raccoon?!
It was right there outside our bedrooms?!
Omg - I thought I heard a noise upstairs…..
It’s….. still here??
There is bed head, wide eyes, disbelief, laughter, many reenactments… more laughter. And all the love this heart can take, because we’re ok and all my people (and my puppy) are safe and giggling in my bed.
And then… it’s time to get going.
Time for breakfast, and dishes, and rushing, and threats about brushing teeth, and “Yes, you have to wear a jacket because it’s FREEZING out” and, “Leave your sister alone”, and “Get in the car WE'RE LATE!”...
I drop them off at school, laugh with friends about our new roommate, and joke about selling the house. I plan a full family sleepover and a locked bedroom door.
And then… I don’t google it anymore. I don’t obsess about it. I don’t lose my mind.
By mid-morning, I’m sort of…. over it.
And it’s weird.
Because it doesn’t throw me completely like it would have in the past.
And just to be very clear ~
* Did I check the backseat for raccoons before I got in the car? YES.
* Was I excited to have a raccoon slumber party? NO.
* Was I wandering around upstairs where the big fella was ‘sleeping’? ALSO, NO.
BUT, the presence of this large wild animal in my house didn’t shake me to my core.
It didn’t preoccupy my every thought.
I was able to go about my day and be productive and laugh and focus and think about non-raccoon related things.
“Five years ago Carolyn” would have been UNHINGED if there was a raccoon living upstairs.
She would have had the house up for sale and been in a hotel by 4:35 am.
And so I spent the day wondering…. “Why so calm Carolyn?”
It certainly wasn’t because I wanted to have a raccoon in the house.
It wasn’t because I didn’t care or that I became an overnight wild animal lover.
So…. again, why so calm?
“Peace - It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
And it occurred to me that I was ok with this situation because I was ok on the inside.
And because I felt safe and secure on the inside, the external events didn’t have as much pull on me.
I wasn’t in my head projecting out all my fears and worries, catastrophizing all the ways this could go wrong.
I could relax into my internal safety and stability.
I was at home in my own body.
There was already security and trust there, so I was able to tap into peace and and calm regardless of what was happening around.
It’s so much of what I teach, but always a brilliant Aha! moment, when you watch it play out in your own life.