I've reached the awkward and undeniably uncomfortable place in my maturity where I realize that I'm not invincible, a point where I'm drinking in every puffy cloud of adorability left in the wake of my young children, while simultaneously considering my (and others') mortality.
I've been lucky so far in my life. I haven't lost many loved one. Most seem to be hanging on pretty well, impressively even. But I know, just as the sun will set this evening, the sun will also set on the people whom I love. And on me.
I've never, ever been a dweller on how long the fates have cut my golden thread. It's nothing I ever considered as I was being slung repeatedly, and of my own free will, from The Incredible Hulk Coaster, the best coaster on the face of the planet, drinking eerily glowing shots from vials at multifloor danceclubs, or zipping stealthily through the night, riding shotgun in my high school boyfriend's Cougar.
I didn't really think twice about life. Life was, quite proverbially, an easy ride. And then, not so long ago, something happened.
I had children.
And ever since, I've become the most cautious of messes. Never before had I seriously considered the dangers of GMO corn, secondhand smoke, or others' stupidity. Never before had I worried that my bones, muscles, or mind would fail me. Never before did I consider so seriously the inevitable passage of time. Or illness. Or death. Or the fact that I remember very little from high school (which may not necessarily be a bad thing).
Pregnancy brought me a full and varied basket of surprises, including complications before which I had not been familiar, concern for those whom have not yet entered this world, and twins, which, to this day, I cannot figure out how I carried.
And I've got a few family members who could stand to be healthier, stronger. And I vacillate between methodical consideration and denial. Often.
I'm also frequently faced with images of children whose quality of life is less than ideal, parents who are ill or no longer with their children, spouses who have lost their counterparts, and those facing long and complicated illnesses, and reality is beginning to cement itself. I will not be here forever, and neither will my loved ones.
Now, I'm not one who does well with the unknown. In fact, I'm terrible at it. I can give you references. And I'm having significant difficulty with the fact that I do not know how long my body will grace this earth. I feel wedged between, "Live as if each day is your last," and "I've got my whole life ahead of me!"
But do I? Do I have my whole life ahead of me? Is that a foolhardy assessment? I've cashed in just about thirty-four years already, and I've got very small children, whose youth, as I see it, could either be adding years to my life or shaving a few off.
I often wonder whether I will be at my childrens' weddings or whether I'll see them graduate college. And I ponder the best strategies to maintain my youth (and I'm not talking cucumber slices over my eyes). And then I briefly entertain that this may be one of those aspects over which I have absolutely no control. And then I reluctantly consider the fact that life may throw me a curveball, like it did my high school health teacher, who was so healthy, he spit appleseeds, yet shockingly dropped dead of a heart attack soon after I graduated. Is there any way to know? What's the margin of error for irony?
When I sit around, lamenting that I'm bored, overwhelmed, or too busy, am I obliterating precious time? In my infinite trips to the grocery store and the warehouse club, am I stealing breath from my family? When faced with the choice to sit around or experience something new, am I recharging or collecting future regret?
To quote the immortal (and obviously qualified about age-related wisdom) Andre 3000:
Forever never seems that long until you're grown
And notice the day-by-day ruler can't be too long.
Forever never does seem that long, does it? Not until you've rounded the corner and end up in the land where your chin whiskers have turned gray, your back hurts and you don't know why, skiing the black diamond doesn't sound like any fun at all, and you respectfully decline the wasabi. A wise one, that 3000.
But I'm not sure I'm comfortable there. Am I going to find a sequined halter top and wander the streets until I hear the siren song of Lady Gaga? No. Probably not. I'm not sure I'd be able to go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu, either, but there has got to be a happy medium.
And I've still got a lot of fight left in me. I think. That said, I'm hoping to enjoy a renaissance of sorts with my children, if they'll have me.
It's cool for Mom to sit next to you on the roller coaster, right?
I think it would have to be if she's driving you back.
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