The forecast calls for springtime this week, and I turn 35 years old in three days. So much new lies ahead.
Jude’s school celebrated Read Across America last week with a theme each day. Friday was “Dress Like a Dr. Seuss Character Day,” so Thursday night had me painting a t-shirt to resemble Thing 2. (He specified that he preferred Thing 2 rather than Thing 1 for whatever reason.) I ordered a wig on Amazon, and I’m sure it will make a yearly appearance and be shared among both kids in the years to come as this seems to be a regular thing. I was on spring break last week, so we could take a leisurely walk to the bus stop that morning, and the sun was parting the clouds a bit. He was so happy to be doing something special. Routine is what keeps me sane, but little celebrations and moments where we reach beyond the ordinary can encourage and energize us so much, too.
I’m a planner. I know this about myself, and I genuinely cannot remember a time when that wasn’t true. I’ve always been a forward-thinker, and motherhood has only multiplied that exponentially. I make a list every Sunday detailing what we will eat the entire week. I can look ahead on my calendar and tell you what I’m doing weeks from now. The minute one of the kids gets sick, I go into planning mode and think ahead to my week and when I can take off and when I can’t and start making plans to make the delicate balance of our lives make sense in the chaos.
As I’m typing this, I hear the hum of the dryer tumbling laundry, and I’m cooking a chicken in the pressure cooker. And in the back of my mind is the constant soundtrack of what else I need to do this afternoon. It’s always a tightrope I’m walking. Juggling balls in the air to accommodate a job and students and kids at home and the million little things like an oil change or a visit to the accountant at tax time or a follow-up email that is still waiting to be written or the kitchen floor that desperately needs mopping. It’s easy to sometimes worry that one little thing can knock it all down like dominoes. The dance has persistent potential for chaos.
I’m hoping to get better at a few things in my 35th year. And one of those is to allow myself to stop planning in those rare moments of rest, to turn off the “mom brain” and just let it come to me as it will. The little tasks have to be crossed off the list, but I’m hoping to make a conscious effort to bring mindfulness a little further into my daily life. Forward thinking has to happen to get by from week to week, but there is so much value in the here-and-now.
Norah and I were playing around with my phone camera last week, and I was struck my how different we look and feel in those photos – when compared to how we looked and felt just a couple of short years ago. She is nothing like a toddler anymore. All pre-school kid. I’ve got some laugh lines that are creased a little deeper than they used to be. I’ve weathered a few storms in this season of my life and learned lessons I couldn’t have learned any other way. I’m watching the landscape of my face change as my heart gains folds and creases, too. But I’m okay with it. I’m okay with learning and growing and changing, and I wouldn’t turn back to 25 if given the chance. Today feels so much better than a decade ago, and I know myself in ways I certainly didn’t before. I’m on the threshold of something new, I think. And that’s how I want to feel forever and forever.
There’s a quote from the film version of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours that sets me on fire in the best way every time I hear it. One character is asking her own midlife questions and explains to her daughter, “I remember one morning getting up at dawn. There was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling. And I remember thinking to myself: So this is the beginning of happiness, this is where it starts. And of course there will always be more…It never occurred to me it wasn’t the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment, right then.”
That thrill of possibility is it. That big empty page. And I don’t think you have to abandon that feeling when your life is more solid and contained within particular perimeters. We can always hold on to that. But now, at the dawn of my 35th year as I cross the threshold to the second half of this decade for me, I feel grateful for this season that reminds me so tangibly what it feels like to dwell in possibility. I have things to write that I haven’t written yet. Places to go that I’ve never been. I have feelings to feel that I haven’t felt yet. So much awaits.