Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reality. Check.

Sometimes I have a difficult time grasping my reality. I have a hard time believing that I’m almost 33 years old, a wife and a mother. I signed Sam up for preschool for which he starts on Tuesday. I can’t believe I have a kid who is going to go to preschool. I feel as though I’m “breaking the seal” on his stay-at-home status. I am now going to drop him off at a place and trust the care of strangers for 6 hours a week. I will not be privy to each look, nuance of his moods or new discoveries during those 6 hours. I will pick him up each day, wanting a complete play-by-play from his teachers, but I know I won’t get it. Even if they tried, they won’t pay attention to him the way I do. They won’t revel in his amazing-ness and quietly smile when they see him interact with other kids. They won’t overflow with pride when he uses his manners or listens to the teachers. I am giving up a certain amount of control during his day and there will now be parts of his life that I’ll miss, because I won’t be there. I know this school will be good for him, and for me. It just seems to have happened so fast. This brings me back to my sobering reality that I’m not 25 anymore. Between then and now, life has happened, and it seems I’ve been so busy watching with shocked bewilderment, mouth gaping wide and eyes unblinking, that the time has flown by at record speeds.

In my teens and twenties, I always had a “vision” of what my life would be. I would get married at age X, have kids at age Y. I’d have job ABC and live a life contrived from what I thought was ideal.

My life is really nothing like I had fantasized it would be.

As I got older, people around me started getting married and having kids. I’d watch from a distance and in my mind, my contrived life would become even more set in my mind. I’d pick and choose from what I observed what I wanted for my life, and what I swore I wouldn’t become. I never wanted to become a “mom” with the rounded features and the mini-van. I wanted to maintain some semblance of cool. I was so afraid of losing myself. I wanted to always have opinions and a sharp mind and not get lost in laundry and grocery lists. I wanted to thoroughly enjoy my pregnancies and “revel in the miracle that grows inside me.” I wanted to keep an ordered house, volunteer in the community and be balanced and put-together.

And now here I am. I’m in my thirties, I’m married and I’m a mother. I of course have learned that it doesn’t matter what you “think” your life to be; it is what it is. I’m not saying that we don’t have control or a say in the way we shape our own lives, but the fairy tale is just that. I’ve learned that the things that I thought mattered when I was a kid really don’t. I did become a “mom” in every sense of the word; rounded features and all. I have lost a part of myself in my son, and he will carry that part of me with him forever. I still have opinions, but they are about different things. I don’t really enjoy my pregnancies, as they are difficult and not at all what I imagined them to be (it is the outcome that I look forward to!). I have succumbed to the toys and the household disarray that is having kids. I don’t have time to shave my legs, much less volunteer in the community, and I rarely feel balanced and put together. I am still in awe that I will have two boys and no girls. I always imagined having a daughter of my own. Sometimes I nag my husband (something I swore I’d never do) and even though I thought my thirties would bring clarity and confidence that my twenties lacked, I still sometimes feel lost and directionless.

Despite the enormous differences in what I imagined and what is, I am beyond happy. Whenever I pictured my future self, the feeling of happiness and balance was so surface. My legs might not be smooth, but my kid makes me laugh and my husband loves me. I am thrilled at the idea of having soccer games in the back yard with my sons. I might have a little extra padding on me but I’ve realized what is really important in life, and most of the things on my list from when I was young don’t really matter.

Time is flying by at alarming rates. I occasionally want to stop standing on the sideline of life. I’ll close my gaping mouth, blink a few times, take a deep breath and get in the game.