looking forward, looking back

We’ve been busy this week. It’s Thursday somehow – though I feel like the week just started.  Life is happening so fast, it seems.  In light of many changes for me this year, it is especially unsettling if I think about it too much.  If I close my eyes for a minute and think back to being 29 years old as a stay-at-home-mom with a toddler and a house (two houses ago now) and a husband and what I assumed to be a predictable life plan stretched out in front of me, it makes me dizzy to even think about the speed at which life has changed for me.  It catches me off guard sometimes, to look around at what I’m encountering every day and know this is my life. Right now. It’s happening now.

Norah is going to a little “ballet camp” this week at my hometown dance studio.  It’s a 30 minute drive to get her there, and it’s not a practical solution for a busy school year schedule if she chooses to dance in the future, but for a summer camp, it’s worth the extra trouble to see her learn from my old instructor and interact in that same environment where I spent years growing.  I was helping her get ready in a tiny pink leotard and twisting her wispy hair into a bun on Monday morning when I realized that this is it. Life is happening – not at all the way I planned it, but that almost doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s still my life, my one shot.  And it’s happening now.  The day I found out I was having a girl, about a dozen moments filled my head, and this was one of them.

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Who knows what the future holds and if she will choose to dance long term as I did, but it was one of those out-of-body moments I’ve discussed before when it makes you catch your breath a bit.  This is real. This is life.  I’m gong to remember this.  Happiness catches you off guard when you aren’t looking. How am I thirty-four years old and dressing a tiny ballerina for her first lessons?  I don’t know.  Where the past decade of my life has gone is a mystery to me. So fast.

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I’ve thought a little this week about nostalgia and that lens we tend to use when we examine the past.  I can’t believe it was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote this post.  Looking back now, I remember that night and all its details (only because I wrote them down here), and it feels like a thousand lifetimes ago.  I feel so much older and a little wiser but mostly just weathered and broken in.

I can’t help but wonder what lens I will see this summer through – as I look back years from now.  I know what stings now might not be most memorable in the future. The scrounging food from the freezer to make cheap meals as I’m still paying off attorney bills.  The cluttered garage and late-night painting projects. The almost audible, heavy silence I can hear when kids are gone and I’m still not quite used to it. The itchy newness of all of it.  I’m wondering if I will look back and see those details, or maybe only remember the sweetness of a new chapter and the exciting newness of being alone and the thrill of possibility.

I don’t know what I will see as I look back, but I do know this is pivotal.  This is meaningful.  This is life happening as quick as it ever has, and it feels long now as I look ahead and can’t imagine my way forward and what that reality will look like.  But I think in the grand scheme of things, so to speak, this is a moment in time, only a little one.  And though it is really, really hard not to wish this time away, I am trying to feel it all.  To see it all.

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As Norah was at ballet today, Jude and I spent some time at a local spot we’ve grown to love.  It was fun to play with only him for a while. One of those moments when you look at them and they seem all grown and fearless; it’s amazing really.  I’ve blinked and we are here.  There is only one summer I will ever have when they are 3 and 5, and I am in this moment in my own life.  I don’t want to miss it.  Today is all I have right now.  Every day is new, and I don’t know how long this period will last for me.  Something tells me, like every other season of my life, the things I will miss the very most are the things I don’t even notice or cherish right now.

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UntitledI’m exploring and observing new terrain everyday.  I have no idea where it will lead, but it has to be somewhere good, right?  (I’m asking mostly for reassurance as I look at unfamiliar waters.)   I bought my mom Glennon Melton’s book for Mother’s Day, and I was flipping through it before I wrapped it up.  There’s a chapter when she describes her sister’s divorce and the transition period before her sister moved on, and she explains, “Now we know that in order for love to be real and true and good, you need to have had your heart shattered.  We know now that a broken heart is not the end of the world, but a beginning.”  I’m not always sure where I am on that timeline, and maybe it’s a fluid thing.  But I think I’m moving a bit from shattered pieces to new starts, and I will look back at this summer as the beginning.

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One thought on “looking forward, looking back

  1. Beautiful words, Katie. Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I had been a single mom now instead of at 19. At 19 I didn’t know to hold onto to all of these little moments: Hope pushing her toy grocery cart around Brenau, editing projects for Dobkins at 3am with snarky English majors and too much vanilla diet cokes, other little memories that seem so blurred and far-away. I was treading water and just wanted things to be easier. I couldn’t wait for Hope to be more independant or for college to be over. In my early 20s I thought I would one day magically have stability and time to slow down. Now she is 15. 15!!! I try so hard to hold on to little moments now. It balances out the stress and heartache. All that blabbing to say, YES little moments, living in the now, this is happening and important and makes life “alive.”

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