Girlhood. Momhood. Lifehood.
Insights on navigating the craziness of life with young kids one — “large coffee with skim please” — day at a time.

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  • SuperGirl
    Met this gal this week at a party. Can we please discuss her adorable “Custom Creations” for kids?? Including shiny superhero capes and hair accessory boards for girls!

Life is a Highway

January 2nd, 2010

So it’s 2010. Wow.

It honestly didn’t dawn on me that we’re entering a whole new decade until recently. I was in line at Stop & Shop a couple of weeks ago and the cover of Time magazine blared from the rack, “The Decade From Hell: And Why the Next One Will Be Better”.

Geez…that’s a lovely sentiment. Was it really that bad?! When I look back on what’s happened since the clock struck twelve in 1999, yes, a lot of awful stuff has happened, particularly from the perspective of Time magazine. But wow, 10 years have passed?

On New Year’s 1999 Michael and I spent a very fun night with close friends. We all partied and drank way too much champagne and danced in the living room to J. Lo’s “Waiting for Tonight.” We had no kids and were just happy to be off from work for the holidays and hoped that Y2K wouldn’t cause some disaster that sucked all of the cash out of our bank accounts. We were working hard at our jobs, focused on the corporate ladder, saving for a house, intimidated by 401K’s and loving planning a big tropical vacation to celebrate our upcoming 30th birthdays. It was a work hard, play hard scenario.

And life was full.

And then shortly into the decade my mom was diagnosed with cancer, had surgery, and received a clean bill of health (and still does after almost 9 years). And then that next September I was sitting at my desk at work one morning and my sister-in-law called me to tell me that a plane had just crashed in New York. My company’s biggest client was an airline. Within a few minutes the surreal 9/11 nightmare was underway. We watched on a conference room TV as the twin towers came down. Towers that I’d stood on the top of as a giddy teenaged tourist, taking pictures with my little disk camera. And it changed a lot of things forever. As the weeks passed it made me think about a lot of things. Like maybe it wasn’t worth being in a job I really hated so I could get promoted into a job I knew I would like even less. And maybe starting a family was something we shouldn’t wait to do anymore. Maybe now was the perfect time.

And so we did.

We bought a tiny house we loved and we had our son in 2003. Mom and Dad came to visit when he was born. On the day they left to go back home, I remember holding the baby, and watching out the window, balling my eyes out as they drove away. But we immersed ourselves in our new life phase. I struggled with the shift from corporate raider to stay-at-home mom and all the emotions and self definitions and role changes that go with it. But at the same time I loved sitting on the screen porch rocking my baby to sleep, watching the cars go by and napping with him in the middle of the day.

Then we bought a bigger house in 2004.
We had another baby.
We traded in our SUV for a minivan.
Michael continued to work harder and for a few years it felt like we were passing ships in the night, each consumed with our day jobs and long hours.
And our pre-kid friendships ebbed and flowed as we entered the parenting life stage.
We spent less time in the city and more in the burbs.
And I flew to Texas as much as I could with the kids to see “Grammy and Bah” and get a little relief during the long winters.
And the Red Sox broke the curse.
Michael got promoted.
I fretted over post-baby weight that just wouldn’t go away.

Then one night in 2007 I slept on a cot in the hospital next to “Auntie J’s” bed knowing she would be gone soon. And when my sister-in-law came back the next morning to resume her post at her bedside, she sang to her and held her hand and told her it was OK to go, and Auntie J passed away. Two weeks later on a rainy day her brother also died. And it was really hard to lose them both, so close together. That whole year was just really hard. Everything was out of balance. I was anxious, frustrated, burnt out on the demands of two small children, and a little lost. And then I did some soul searching, listened to advice from people I trusted and finally made some conscious choices to try and turn things around. I got a sitter and started working and writing just a little bit and carved out some time for myself.

And it started to get better.

We gave away our crib and redecorated our little girl’s room with beautiful antique furniture that Auntie J left us.
Then our little boy was suddenly in elementary school and our baby girl was in preschool and a social butterfly.
And we upgraded our digital camera.
And we took the kids to Disney.
And last year Michael fought to keep his head above water at work where a tanking economy added more pressure and more stress.
We started going to church on Sundays and hoped that would help us find balance.
But I was burning the midnight oil thinking I could be Wonder Woman and accomplish all my various work and volunteer and motherhood endeavors.
Then one warm May night I woke up in that ambulance.

And again, things changed.

We regrouped, reassessed and realized yet again, that “life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” And we decided to dial it all down.
After this Thanksgiving, we bought Christmas wreaths and meticulously hung them along our new fence. We wonder if we’ll stay in this house and add on or if we’ll get a bigger one.

And just last week, Mom and Dad came to visit for Christmas. Dad and I snuck out for breakfast, something we try to do every visit. But this the time, the topics were heavier than usual…and it was hard. And I realized that conversations over coffee and omelets aren’t always meant to be fun and light. Sometimes you have to grow up, face your fears, your mistakes, and tackle the tougher stuff – because that’s just the way it is if you want to live your life.

And that, in a nutshell is the last 10 years. At least for me.

I have no resolutions for the upcoming year or the next decade for that matter. But I have a plan (insert deep breath here). I want to try, as much as possible, to live without fear… fear of getting older, of my kids growing up too fast – fear of what or who I’ll lose, or who will get sick, or what will change, of what I can’t control or that the choices I make will be the wrong ones. If I’ve learned anything in the last year, in the last decade, is that you may think you have a plan, but the universe does not have a copy of it on file.

So on Christmas Day (ironically) my 6+month medical driving hiatus was finally over. It felt wonderful, and a bit surreal to be behind the wheel again. I had all these grandiose ideas of how to celebrate, including painting cool red flames on the back window of the car, but in the end I just celebrated pretty quietly with a few laps around the neighborhood. I took a few minutes to enjoy the freedom and reflect on my life as a pedestrian over the last few months. I learned a lot and I wouldn’t take it back even if I had the chance. At least I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

But that’s enough of that.

Now that I’ve checked the rear view mirror, it’s time to focus on the road of 2010. I’ve got A LOT of driving to do.
But no map (and no GPS thank you very much).
Just a lot of important lessons learned along the way, a really awesome pit crew, and God willing…

No fear.

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