Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Celebrate Good Times, C'mon!

I was talking to my daughter yesterday about how she and I are having a life moment together. We are both about to experience a once in a lifetime freedom at the same time. She is just starting out in her life and soon will be able to travel, live anywhere in the world she wants and discover new adventures for herself. I am about watch the graduation my last child and will have the exact same opportunity as my eldest child, to do and be anything I want.
When Danny died I was constantly reminded that the safety of my children hinged on my personal safety. I couldn't sky dive, swim in treacherous water, or do anything dangerous because I was the last remaining parent. I wouldn't want my kids to be orphans, would I? It has sat firmly on my shoulders for all of these years. I had thought, back when I first lost Danny, that when I turned forty seven I would be able to regain some of my freedom. My kids would be raised and I would have the opportunity to travel, see things, do things I had always wanted to do without the voice of doom ringing in my ears. Back then I wondered if we would all would survive the trek to the magical 47th birthday. This year on Mother's day I will turn 47 and a few weeks later Betty will graduate from high school. Michael and I will be letting out a collective sigh of relief.
I am excited at the prospect of being different. I tell my kids all the time if you want to be different, then be different. I was happy to see the janitor from Scrubs repeat the same thing on an episode and validate my hypothesis. Change is hard, I think we all know that, but it's hardly impossible. It will take some work on my part to start this chapter of my life and be a different version of me, hopefully a better version of my existing self. I am totally up for the challenge. I am currently conducting a little psychological and physical experiment for myself. I am allowing myself to morph into something I have never been before. I am allowing myself a little selfishness. I am putting my needs ahead of others for the first time in my life. As a nurse, I was a caretaker of the elderly, the terminally ill, the weakest and most feeble of mankind. I bathed them, fed them and looked after every aspect of their daily life and well being. As a mother, I did the same thing. I never questioned why I should, I only looked at each day as what was necessary for everyone's survival, except mine. My daughter, as the eldest child, has had much the same thought process as a care taker. Most eldest children take on the responsibility of their younger, less experienced siblings. She has taken care of her friends while she has been in college. I am trying to get her to see that we sent off to college to eliminate some of her responsibilities and she needs to be a little selfish now, before she gets married and has kids of her own. I want her to celebrate her independence and her ability to go anywhere she wants, be anything she wants, do anything she wants. She is going to blink and this will all be over and she will have to wait another twenty five years before the opportunity presents itself again. I mean no disrespect to motherhood, or being a wife. I wouldn't trade my life and all of it's chaos for anything, but I see very clearly how important it is to take advantage of any opportunity I have to celebrate just me. Having lived the other side of the coin, I have no regrets, but I do not want to miss out on spending time living exactly as I have always wanted to. I don't want her to miss that either.
While talking to my eldest child, my voice rose in excitement about what all we were going to be able to do. I spoke to her about traveling together to Europe and seeing incredible sights, drinking wine and appreciating great art, and dark haired, mysterious men. I spoke to her about all the things she could do on her own. I told her of my plan to do some things on my own , as well. I squealed and giggled with my child as we enjoyed my sometimes overly enthusiastic plans for our futures.
I am not privileged in any conventional sense. My privilege has always come from the friends I have made, the family I so dearly love and the pets who cuddle my feet. I have had to work long, hard hours for very little money, so creature comforts has not been my privilege. Do I wish the past different? I used to. I used to sigh and wish things had been easier for me. I sometimes regretted my decisions and wished I had been smarter, more open, less naive, and more savvy. Recently, part of my metamorphosis has been about letting go of any regret. Failure produces knowledge. Whether we are smart enough to learn the lessons are quite another thing, but the absolute byproduct of having tried something and failing miserably is knowledge. Surely, by now, I must be a genius.
This is a year to celebrate for me. It really should be a year to celebrate for everybody. If you got up this morning and drew breath, then trust me, you are having a good day. If your limbs still work and your mind can focus, mine starts right after the coffee hits my stomach, then you are having a great day. If you have people in your life that love and care about you, then your life is made!

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