Last weekend marked an emotional milestone; I am now the same age my mother was when my father died, and my youngest child is the same age I was. For some reason I’ve looked at this approaching year with bated breath. It’s like watching the New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York- an hour ahead of Chicago- and believing if there’s no chaos everything will be alright with the world.
I’m not really sure what I expected to feel- older I guess. Because as a twelve year old, my 43 year old mom seemed much more grown-up than I feel now.
By nature, kids observe. They watch everything we do, because what they hear doesn’t always make sense…until it does. I never understood my mom’s panic as she watched me fly down a ski run, until my kids did it with the same enthusiasm only the mountain edge seemed oddly closer than I remembered.
Once I became a parent, 43 became this “magical” number where I felt like I needed to have my shit together…just in case.
I don’t have it all together. By any means.
I won’t presume to understand the life of a single parent: the exhaustion, the frustration, the uncertainites. Growing up with a single parent, though, I learned some incredible lessons.
1- Strength. Life throws plenty of curve balls and some will knock you flat on your butt. You don’t get back up because you want to…you do it because you have to. Strength isn’t a choice, there simply is no other option. My mom was queen of putting on her “big girl pants” long before it was a greeting card.
2. Do it yourself. We didn’t/couldn’t wait for dad to come fix the screen, repaint the walls, or change a tire. It may not have been perfect, but it got done-DIY channels and youtube weren’t around yet. Buy your own set of tools.
3. Forget hindsight. There are a million things in life we might do differently given the chance. But you can’t. You make the best decisions you can in that moment.
4. Friendship. You quickly learn that the number of friends is irrelevant, it’s the quality that matters. Someone you can call at three am, someone who will let you (or your whole family when need be) stay at your place: those friends are rare, but that’s what makes them special.
5. Time. We only get one shot at this thing called life. Travel, eat good food with great people, follow your passion. Life is far too short to waste on “what if” or “someday.”
Terrible things are going to happen to good people. But some really great things are going to happen too.
There is no “magic” number when life will throw a curve. But it’s never an end, just a bend in the road. You may not be able to see what’s around the corner, and albeit scary, the next view may be remarkable.
It’s ok to wear your heart on your sleeve, laugh loudly, love deeply, and live passionately. Some might say, it’s the only way to live.
ftedailygreen can now be found at www.chicagonow.com/conveniently-green
Om Philosophy photo credit