I am 30 years old. I've birthed 3 babies in the last five years. The clothes that I keep shrinking back into are out of style now, and too young for me anyway. And I can't imagine a day when I will ever be alone and not preoccupied with the whereabouts and goings-on of my family. Life is different.
I catch myself thinking that my best days are behind me--that my window of opportunity to do the fun things in life is gone. I have been realizing lately that there is a list of things I long to do. I miss playing team sports: basketball and soccer. I wish I had had the opportunity to roller derby when I was freer to do that kind of thing. I want to go to an open mic and play my guitar and sing my heart out; I didn't do it enough when I had the chance, and I want to get better at it, too. I wish I had learned to dance.
But there's a duality here. I miss those things and I want to do them. On the other hand, I know full well that if I step onto a soccer field tomorrow, it would not be fun--at least not the fun I remember it being. I know that I could not compete well enough in basketball to make myself happy. I know that roller derby would ache my aging body. And I could go to open mic, but my mind would be racing with all the things being neglected at home, not to mention the fact that I had not had time to practice my singing/playing, which would also render it not-as-fun. And I just feel too old to learn to dance.
How did I get here?? Maybe it's true--that my best days are behind me. Or maybe I am moving to a new stage of life. Hmmm... Maybe I should be finding new things from which to derive pleasure and enjoyment. Is it sewing? Maybe sewing is my new fun-thing-to-do. It's just not the same, though. I like it, but it's just not the same.
My firstborn, Rachel, just turned 5 years old. I've never wished her to be involved in any organized sports or activities until recently. She suddenly seems old enough--ready. Where should we go with this? Tae Kwon Do would teach her self control and spacial awareness, which she definitely needs. So would dance or gymnastics. She would love a team sport, because she's so social. I look online for dance studios nearby, and I find one that seems great. Even greater, is that they have a horrible website, so I begin thinking that Jarrad might possibly be able to work out a barter with them so it's not so expensive. There are some youtube videos on their site, and WOW there are some dancers doing some amazing things! They look so athletic and precise. I watch the same video several times, and show Jarrad.
The images from that video stay in my mind, and as I daydream in the following days, I suddenly realize that I'm not wishing I could do that. I'm not imagining myself in that studio, learning choreography and excelling as a dancer. My daydream is not of myself, but of Rachel.
And then it hits me like a gust of wind that takes my breath away: my new fun-thing-to-do is to watch my children grow, learn, mature, achieve, and excel. My new best enjoyment is their enjoyment. I will henceforth be most delighted when they are delighted.
I can see now that my best days are ahead. And as my fun will be their fun, I anticipate that my heartbreak will come when their hearts break. My saddest moments will be when they are sad and I can't fix it.
And so I stay tuned for a richness of life I have not yet experienced. I imagine that the happiness and pleasure and enjoyment that I experienced in my youth might pale in comparison to the happiness and pleasure and enjoyment I derive from my children's experiences. I know I have already learned so much more from these little ones than I could possibly have learned as a student--even when I was at the pinnacle of my formal education. All of those lessons now have flesh, and they teach me and re-teach me every single day.
I'm a mommy now. And suddenly I feel freer than ever to embrace my new(er) role in life. Thank you, Jesus. My freedom is in you, and you alone. I know my selfish pursuits will leave me empty. Thank you for giving me new joy every day. Thank you for the reminder that I am not made to live forever or to be stuck in the same place forever. Thank you God for your promise to make me whole again--the perfect version of me--when you redeem me to glory one day, to sit with you and to sing praises to Jesus forevermore. Amen.