Friday, September 4, 2009

The Present

I have always loved back-to-school time. As a kid, I was at my happiest organizing new school supplies - Trapper Keeper, pencil case, new folders. Life felt full of promise - an opportunity for a fresh start. September has always felt like New Year's to me - even at 40 I am still programmed for the academic year.

The crisp fall air gets my mind going - I get nostalgic, wistful. I think about where I am in life, all the things I thought I would have done by 40. It is laughable, really, how little my life resembles where I thought I'd be at this point. At 30, if I had seen a snapshot of my life today I wouldn't have believed it. Jewelry designer? Recovering Alcoholic? Stay-at-home mother? No way. At 30 I was still chock full of dreams of success in Corporate America. On the verge of getting married, I looked forward to becoming a mother and working full time - enjoying, in my mind's eye, the best both of those worlds had to offer. I marvel at my confidence back then, my belief that I had it all figured out.

But life, of course, has a way of giving you what you need, not necessarily what you want. Working in Corporate America and being a Mother completely overwhelmed me - I felt inadequate in every way - an under performing employee and a negligent mother. I chose to stay home full-time, imagining instead a life out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Wrong again. Tripped up by my own unrealistic notions, I slipped deeper and deeper into the despair of addiction. Looking back, it is easy to see how I set myself up for failure. Dreams are wonderful. Expectations? Not so much.

Greta loves to look for the first star she can find at night and make a wish. Then she turns to me and asks what I wished for. Each time I say, "I wished for my family to be healthy and happy."

"But don't you want stuff? Like maybe all the beads in the world? I wished I could have every Webkinz. And if I can't have that, I want every Littlest Pet Shop. In the whole world."

I smile, thinking of all the things I would have wished for when I was younger - heck, even last year - and how off track I would have been.

I was rubbing Greta's back as she fell asleep the other night, and as she drifted off she whispered "Momma? I love my life." And I realized - I love my life, too. It is just that I forget to remember that sometimes. It seems so, I don't know, final? complacent? to just stop and look around and say yup, everything is just the way it should be.

So this year, instead of getting caught up in my usual Fall Frenzy, I am making only one resolution: No Resolutions. Life comes along at its own pace, and when I get caught up in all my "should haves" or "want tos" it is just me trying to wrench control of the inevitable passage of time. Here is another thing my jaded, cynical, sarcastic self wouldn't have said a few short years ago: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, all you have is today - which is why it is called the Present.


  1. What a beautiful post! The pictures are especially gorgeous, by the way.

  2. On a night when I am so tired I can hardly function your post is a really good reminder.
    Part of it made me think of a print I have up on the wall in my office at work. If you go to storypeopl dot com and look under prints it is called Fighting Chance. I think, if we are lucky, the older we get, the more we get that stuff isn't where it's at. In the life of a child, of course it is, and that is not surprising. I loved the Christmas catalogue when I was a kid...dreaming of all those things.
    I always wish for my family to put their relationship with God first. The rest is gravy.

  3. spelled storypeople wrong.

  4. Very nice post with some excellent pictures!

    It is strange what life brings us!

    You may have had a a few hiccups on the way to 40 however you can now enjoy the wonderful life you know have with your family.

  5. I completely agree with you 100% and I'm not quite yet 40! Whenever my T-hub has 'one of those days' or I have to remind him he's working a little too hard (the payoffs in France for being motivated are, well, nonexistant!) I say "honey, when we/you are old & perhaps on the deathbed, you know what you won't remember? Work. You know what you will? The sunset walks we take every evening w/dog&cat in tow..the moments on the bench just watching our country life passby...our Sunday walks thru the end of the day you have one life, not the should've/could've/would'ves of life".... Happy Fall!