How many times have you wanted to freeze time? When you look into your baby’s eyes or when it’s the last day of vacation when life is so sweet you never want it to change, you wish that things could always stay the same so you don’t lose the feeling you have at the moment. But try as you may, time marches on. Babies grow, you always have to go back to work after vacation, summer turns into fall, trees lose their leaves and the landscape becomes barren. Hair turns grey, skin wrinkles, hard bodies turn soft. Waves come in and they go out. Rivers flow. Mountains erode. Animals evolve. People you love die, and life goes on. Change happens.
On the flipside, when life gets hard and things seem as bad as they can get, you wonder if they will ever improve. You wonder if you will ever feel better or if circumstances will ever change. The grass is always greener somewhere else. One of life’s challenges is to learn to go with the flow, to embrace the ever changing nature of the world and our lives. When things are bad, they have to get better, and when they are good, you wonder when something bad will happen. One thing you can be sure of is that tomorrow is a new day. Change will happen.
I’m reflecting on the changes I’ve been through and the changes I’m about to make. I morphed from a high school and college student into an environmental activist working for Greenpeace. I got married and got divorced, becoming a single mom. I got my master’s degree and got remarried and taught school for six years while raising two daughters. When we considered having a third child, I proclaimed I would only agree if I could be a stay home mom. It was already far too stressful working all day and then coming home to two children, a tutoring job, and a house to run. Joe finished law school and scored a great job at a large firm in DC, making it possible for me to stay home. I thought life would be paradise. I remember thinking I could go to Starbucks anytime, go to the gym, go shopping, essentially live like a princess. I envisioned the stereotypical sitting around eating bon bons scenario. When Thomas first arrived, it was wonderful not to have to work. I enjoyed the peace and quiet during the day and was able to nap and be on his schedule. As the years went by however, it started to get old. As Thomas got bigger and more independent, I started to get bored and lonely. I started looking for ways to fill my time since I had some extra time on my hands. I played a season of adult soccer and took a College Algebra class at the local community college. I published my dad’s book. I tutored math part time at home. Much to my surprise, most moms I knew worked, so my days became full of doing dishes and laundry and paying the bills and cleaning the house. Where did my princess paradise go? Thomas and I did some fun things together, but I found more and more I was missing adult relationships and was losing touch with my professional identity. Because I wasn’t getting up and going to work every day, I got used to the sporty look, you know, pulling your hair up in a ponytail and being ready for a workout at the gym. I started getting snide comments from pretentious women about my appearance. They didn’t seem to understand how or why I would be ok being seen in public without makeup and my hair done perfectly wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I’ve always felt pretty strong inside and even though I was taken aback by such rude comments, I tried to remind myself I live in Texas where being pretentious seemed to be in fashion. Besides feeling like a sore thumb surrounded by some rude barbies, I experienced frustration in other areas as well. Joe tried to warn me not to play soccer because I would get hurt, but I didn’t listen. He was right. I got hurt. I rolled my ankle running full speed then reinjured it later doing high kicks with Sierra, tearing a ligament all the way off the bone and tendons on both sides. I had two surgeries to fix my ankle and two more to fix torn cartilege in my knee as a result of the ankle injuries. I also had my appendix removed. That’s four surgeries in the four years we’ve lived in Texas. I passed my College Algebra class with a B after a lot of hard work and met some new friends only to lose one of them in a tragic car accident. My dad’s book was a success as was my tutoring business, but my kids hated it when I tutored. I worked Mon-Thurs after school from 4-6pm, and my kids resented the fact that as soon as they came home I disappeared behind a closed door and told them not to interrupt me. They didn’t care that was the way I made money. They just wanted my time.
Now, Thomas is about to start kindergarten (full day) and I am so thankful I found a job teaching 7th grade math. My life is about to change all over again. I start full time on Wednesday. I know the grass won’t be the greenest and nothing is ever perfect, but I do think it’s time I get back into society and use my education and skills and talents again in a professional setting. I worked really hard to get my master’s degree and am a licensed, experienced teacher who is capable of touching kids’ lives. My kids will be gone all day at school while I’m gone all day teaching, and when I get home I will be available to them. I can help kids learn to love math and still have summers and vacations with my own kids. I’m not sure how I will juggle all the work and responsibilities, but I feel I am making the right move.
There are many moments in my past where I wish I could have frozen time. There are many times I wish I could go back to and change, especially those moments where I lost someone dear to me. But I realize that’s not possible. Life moves on. Things happen, whether for a reason or not. I realize now that all I have is today, this moment. The past is gone and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet, so all I can really focus on is now. And what I want to do now is be the best I can be. I want to use every moment from my past to touch the lives of the future. I want to pour my love and energy into the people who matter the most to me, my husband and kids. I know that everything can change in an instant, and for now I should be grateful.