I find myself, now and again, missing places I have never been. ~me
These are my three favorite quotes:
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. ~John Lennon, from Beautiful Boy, which I used to sing to my son nightly
Never ruin an apology with an excuse. ~Kimberly Johnson
I never expected the life I’ve led, and I feel like I’ve been in a constant state of surprise from both the good and the bad for my whole life. When I was young, I never expected to be old. I was sure I’d die before I hit 20. Then 30… I’m still here at 47 in spite of some stupid mistakes and a couple of serious medical messes. I was never going to get married. I’ve been married twice. I was never going to bring kids into this crazy world. I’ve done that twice too.
Once, when I quit working in corporate America to stay home with my son, I vowed I would never return, and never, ever, work in a cubicle again. I was hired back into the fold the very month I began looking for work, the very month after separating from my first husband over five years ago now. My next two positions found me in cubicles with those shortened walls, the last one ending with my boss sitting literally an arm’s reach away to my left, munching on hard boiled eggs while I tried to inhale fresher air from the other direction.
I never thought I’d homeschool a child. And then my son was given a diagnosis, and evaluations, and trips to the principal’s office for a growing number of violations of other people’s space and well-being. I learned and adapted, and found some wonderful help along that path. I was never going to put my children on medications either, believing as I still do that we over-medicate in this country to an alarming degree. But, while I was busy making other plans, my children have managed to come up with a variety of creative and terrifying ways to harm themselves, and have needed some unexpected help. The one thing I expected that has always been true is that there’s nothing, within reason, that I won’t do for my kids.
But I’m in a weird place now, a place where those kids are full of anger, hatred, and blame for me for my many shortcomings, and some other things I can’t claim as my own. I knew, I expected that this could happen someday, because all children seem to go through some level of this thing. But when they were born, I believed I would have the support, and love, of their father, and a stable place to help them through their rougher years. I’ve tried to make stability my priority, but it wasn’t all mine to give. I’m sorry to my kids for my own lacking, and for the many disappointments they have endured, and the many more they will face along their paths. I hope they manage to find their own stable places someday, and live in peace.
So I’m standing now in a land I’ve never seen on any map, never contemplated. Uncharted territory. I’m going to recover from the heartache of my own failed expectations. I’m going to keep making other plans. And I’m certainly going to keep apologizing to those I’ve harmed, but not over and over again. Because now is the time to figure out where I am, and who, and to learn to forgive myself and those who have hurt me and the people I love most in this world. Along with the sorrows, I have so many unexpected wonders, new love, new family, a chance to work at meaningful things, and friends who know my worst and best, and have loved me throughout both.
And while I learn to let go of the places I will never, ever be, I will accept that missing them is a part of becoming who I will be. I was never promised an adventurous life, but that is exactly what this is.