This weather is making me feel out of sorts.
Because what weighs heavily on my mind is the season in life that I currently reside and how vastly different it is from my expectations. I need the passage of time to be routine; just as the change of seasons. Winter is supposed to be cold. Spring is supposed to be rainy and as May approaches, a hint to a warmer summer. But instead; the temps have vacillated randomly in unpredictable patterns. My thermometer goes from 40s to 90s in the same week! How do I dress for these highs and lows?
I listened as fellow moms made lunch plans, wistfully imagining the cuisine they’d be sharing, I recalled those days of not-so-long ago; my youngest son in my shopping cart as I balanced popcorn and my Starbucks coffee amidst the aisles of Target. Time with girlfriends over lunch.
At church my boys giggled at a baby gazing upon them in the pew in front of us; remembering myself in the parent’s shoes. To my youngest son’s surprise, I asked if I could lift him like the infant and, in heels, hefted my 8 y/o over my shoulder to pretend he was still my baby. I cherished those years and am grateful I had them. He wiggled and patted my back. Mom, can you put me down now? The family in the pew behind us laughed outright. This very morning my middle son’s jean clad legs caught my eye. He had grown overnight and as I dragged him to our hallway mirror; realized he had grown a few more inches. I still have a hard time reconciling my eldest son’s deep tenor whenever he talks to me on the phone. The squeaky voice is gone.
These days I cherish my short commute to work, the laughter of my sons ringing in my ears when I dropped them off at the school curb. The whirring noises of machinery mark most of my days and my car is my haven as I constantly shuttle sons from point A to point B. My steering wheel convos with my boys are my faves. Today the boys reminded me of my driving etiquette and so I hummed, instead, as I clutched the wheel. I am getting much better, seriously. I didn’t even grumble when a fellow parent slammed her car door into mine in the school parking lot. Thankfully there was no dent and the embarrassed mom was surprised at my nonchalant attitude. No harm, no foul I chirped as I exited my parking space. I’m sure my fellow girlfriend in an adjacent parking space thought I had lost my mind. LOL. She would’ve been pissed. I waved at her as I drove away.
I had no idea what midlife would be like but was sure it would require less change and become stable. Security. Solid marriage. Growing children. Widening bellies (fruits of our wealth LOL). Wrinkles. Slowing down.
But in talking with fellow parents, who walk alongside me in this season, these things are not constants. Our economy has brought less security in jobs and wages to many of my friends and when I hear of someone getting laid off, I worry for them. These fellow friends have other mouths to feed; besides themselves. A few of them have changed careers. Some contemplate re-entering the work force; others are deciding to exit it. We all fight for balance in our lives. Stability. The more apt term for this season is Adaptability; particularly embracing change.
Marriages begin to unravel. Some “make it” but with a lot of pain, work and communication. Our spouses are not the same ones we married and with additional responsibilities and kids to raise; priorities shift and change. The almighty dollar begins to rule our lives as we attempt to amass things that embody security: the house, the cars, the toys, the retirement funds. When I married the hubs I already foresaw the happily ever after. But no one ever tells you it takes a lot of compromise, reciprocity and, the most important; banter. Love can’t conquer all these things alone. My Harlequin romantic ideals of happily ever after still occur; but in minutes, not eternity.
Years ago when parents smiled at me in grocery stores, amidst screaming and whining toddlers, to “enjoy it now because it goes by fast” I would smile, obligingly, and think of how out-of-touch they were. It does go by fast and as children get older, the problems get larger (so I’ve been forewarned). Yes, I don’t have to chauffeur them from point A to point B; the worry becomes if he, the son, will remember to drive safely and get home by curfew. Issues like K2 spice potpourri, vapor pens with balls of marijuana wax, alcohol at parties, grades, extra-curriculars and girls will become frequent discussion topics. The days of why Elmo is a red monster and why the purple teletubby is gay (as in happy) are ancient history.
My widening girth in my waistline is the battle I always wage. I know people say to take pride in the stretch marks and sagging skin, the age lines and graying hair. But I miss the trim, spunky me from my youth. When I look in the mirror I see my own mother at this age. I feel the creaks and cracks of bones if I move a little too quickly. The high impact activities of running, plyometrics or high intensity interval training are now modified. The laugh lines aka wrinkles get deeper and longer like mini crevices. I watch one of my girlfriends as she allows her hair to gray, another as she counts calories and a third contemplate the “lift” in various body regions. Yet another girlfriend, pregnant in midlife, shares the new technological advances in ultrasounds and tests. Most people know the physical changes that aging brings. But what of the mental?
Because there is a lot of CHANGE!!! I believed life would be easier, stable and downhill. I’m stuck in the fast, high occupancy vehicle (HOV)/carpool lane on the six lane highway and am trying to get over the double yellow line to exit. My signal is on but I need to fight my way towards the broken lines.
I want things to stay status quo. I want to know where my life is taking me; my end destination. I like driving my vehicle and the control of where I want it to take me. My windows are down, hair flying in-the-wind, music blaring and my family is along for the ride.
I fight transitions and last week I realized I straddle the line. I need to make a choice. I can either accept the changes of seasons in unpredictable, random patterns and go with the flow or fight my way and forge my own path. I search for the broken lines to transition into the slower lanes, gracefully. I fight for the s-l-o-w.
The word slow is not normally part of my vocabulary. Recently I’ve been shouting it to the hubs; to slow it down. To enjoy the ride. Working ourselves into the ground (because we know that is our eventual destination of ashes-to-ashes; dust-to-dust) isn’t going to make our life stable, our marriages stronger, our children more enriched or our waistlines trimmer. Working harder makes all this fly by faster and creates the opposite effect. Stress. Over the thwacks of machines I yell to the hubs. Health over wealth!!!
But in our banter he calls me out. Like I know how to slow life down; the multi-tasker with four balls-in-the-air at all times. He stormed out of the office today; annoyed with my over committed involvement in various things. Why is it always you!?
The wind blows through the front office, the dried leaves on the money tree floating down upon my desk calendar. My eyes fall upon our business mug. Quality Fasteners: Manufacturers of Custom Fasteners. The words re-play over and over in my mind. What I really need to do is fasten my mind on QUALITY. To manufacture time with faith, family and friends. To customize my highway and create broken lines. To be ready for all seasons. The winds of change are streaming through. I must learn ways to navigate them.