I wonder if I’ve always seen seasons in my life. Looking back, I don’t remember ever feeling anxious for certain times in my life to be over. I’ve hated a job or two and couldn’t wait for them to be over, I’ve hated a class or two and couldn’t wait for them to be over, but in the seasonal aspect of my life, I feel like I’ve always been comfortable right where I am.
I’ve been a long time true believer in the concept that “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I have a framed print in my living room with the words “Life is a journey.” on the top left corner. It’s a photo of a dad and his toddler son. The dad is painting the wall. The toddler is to his left, coloring on the newly painted wall. It was a two page Nissan magazine ad, I called a 1800 number to get a (free) copy of the print back in the 90’s and had it framed. “Life is a journey” is something I’ve believed for a very, very long time. I believe that everything I’ve experienced – the good and the bad – has led me to the person I am today.
Because I see life through this lens, I try to sincerely pay attention, and really ENGAGE in what’s happening today. I also have this overshadowing perspective that time is FLYING by. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced a personal crisis that threw me face to face with what’s important. But I have paid attention when friends have faced serious illness and death. My focus has been strengthened even more by Rachel Barkey’s testimony. I have a deep realization of what matters to me and try to make decisions based on those priorities.
One priority? My kids.
I didn’t have my son until I was 30. I had completed my education and had started working on my career. It went well. Launching my business in 1994 brought wonderful blessings, personal, professional and financial. I’ve been through some changes with regard to my work status as I do my best to stay true to my commitment to my family. As my family’s needs change, I adapt. But work is another post. This is about family.
Older women told me that the years with kids at home would fly by. We hear that so often as young mothers, covered in baby spit up and smelling like a combination of day old b.o., curdled milk, peanut butter and playdoh and we think, “yeah, yeah, yeah, I need a shower! and a nap. and some solitude.” And I really did need a shower and a nap. I desperately needed a little solitude. Sometimes I got them on the same day I needed them. Sometimes not.
But I KNEW it was true. These days are FLYING by! There’s an urgency about this time with my kids. I don’t want to waste it. I don’t want to let it slip by, while I focus on things that, in the big picture, just don’t matter. I’ve been on the other end of that kind of mothering. I fiercely don’t want that for myself or my kids. I said FIERCELY.
I get to the end of a day and really, really want to have used it well. Some days I look back and see myself saying and doing things I wish I hadn’t. But I have no patience (or time) to wallow in regret. I just tell my kids I was wrong and I’m sorry. Then I start over and try again the next day. Sometimes I don’t even wait for the day to end before I start over. Sometimes I catch myself in the middle of the day and change gears right then. But no matter what I say and do in my effort to achieve “a good day” there’s always been one underlying foundation. I feel like I’ve always done it, but it took a conversation with a client a few years ago to make me conscious of it.
The kids were little. FavoriteSon was 7 and PinkGirl was 18 months old. I remember because I was working at a client site during a firm wide computer upgrade in the summer of 2002. I was with another contractor, in an attorney’s office and the contractor asked: “Mr. W, how did you get such great kids?” Mr. W thought quietly for a few seconds and said:
“Well, you know, I’ve always respected them, no matter how old they were. I’ve always been interested in what they think and how they feel. I’m interested in what interests them. I just really enjoy spending time with them, whether we’re doing some activity together or just hanging out. I think they’re really great people.”
As I listened to Mr. W, I suddenly understood why I cared that a Charmander evolved into a Charmeleon and then into a Charizard. Because FavoriteSon cared. I knew why I actually spent a Friday night reading the entire Official Pokemon Manual to determine whether I would allow FavoriteSon to get into the Pokemon phenomenon. (My favorite Pokemon is a Jigglypuff. When they sing, they put you to sleep and then draw all over your face. Yes. I have a favorite Pokemon.) It’s why I watch every TV show my kids like. (They don’t watch that many shows.) We have a lot to talk about when I watch their TV shows. Learning opportunities abound. I listen to their music. I make FavoriteSon Google song lyrics for our approval before he’s allowed to download music. I made FavoriteSon “friend” me on Facebook.
I want to know anything they want to tell me. Because, someday – someday sooner than I would like – they aren’t going to tell me so much.
So in the middle of all this, I try to make the everyday a “good day.” Sure there’s the dishwasher to load and unload – again. And the laundry – with the man stank of football season. And the bathroom floor, the cat hair on the stairs, kicking a path through toys in PinkGirl’s room, the homework, the kid chauffeuring, the kid bickering, the lunch packing, and whatever that smell is in my van. I tire of this list. You get the idea.
But the thing is, this is life. This stuff happens. E V E R Y day. I can’t stop it. But when it does stop, it will be OVER. And I believe older women when they tell me they remember it as a GOOD time in their life, some even say it was the BEST time in their life. In that frame of reference, this time is so short!
I am COMPELLED to make “good days” in the middle of this fast paced, ever changing thing I call my life. It is so funny how the kids, when asked about what they remember about their past, come up with the simplest of things. Dragging the kitchen table into the family room and covering it with blankets to make a tent in front of the TV. Sending in bowls of popcorn. Leaving the table there for hours because I really had no compelling reason to put it back. Knowing as I handed the popcorn through the blankets that there would be vacuuming in my future.
I’ve spent this regular ol’ Monday afternoon with my daughter while FavoriteSon was at football practice. She and I picked him up, greeting him with a cold Gatorade. I started this post while she was doing her homework and now, as I finish it up and FavoriteSon is in the shower, I hear my husband and daughter in the next room. She’s cracking up. He’s blowing a raspberry on her belly. It’s a school night and there are still lunches to pack, clothes to lay out, showers to finish and prayers to say. Homework is done, dinner is done, the kitchen is trashed. Again. Monday night football for FavoriteSon and FirstHusband. Reading for PinkGirl and myself.
It was a good day.