Thursday, January 10, 2013
Living the Dream
For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to get married and have a family - husband, kids, a home of my own. It began as mostly a default, when I was young. Mommy and Daddy were married with a home, and so were the aunts and uncles and all the families I knew - that's just what people "did", it's what I knew. Naturally, I thought, I would do the same one day. As I began to grow up - specifically, as I became aware that I was growing up - the desire for a family became stronger. This dream of mine was an interesting mix of a desire for greater autonomy (wanting to make my own way in the world, find a man of my own to love, establish my own household rules, decorating scheme, etc.) and simultaneously a longing to return to childhood (maybe I was too old to play hide-and-seek anymore, but, hey - my kids wouldn't be! I could pass on so many great memories, games, etc. to children of my own). Once I was college-aged and out in the dating world, it seemed like a possibility that was closer and closer. I began to actively store up ideas, asking questions of other parents, reading books about strong marriages, taking note of family traditions worth emulating - basically just trying to figure out what things were important for families, and what environment and practices I wanted to establish in my future home.
Even now, I'm constantly taking in new information, imagining how I want our home and our family to be. I've been thinking so much of this beautiful future I've planned out, that it didn't even hit me: I'm already there. This revelation struck me several times over the Christmas season. The life I always wanted? It's here. I have it. It's not 100% perfect, of course, and I hope I never expected it to be. But I already have the right husband (sure we fight sometimes, but he's a good man and we are good for each other. Our relationship is slowly, but surely, improving), I have a comfortable house (sure, it's "just a rental", but we've turned it very much into our home, and we're fortunate to live here), I have children (perhaps not the full brood yet, but these two already mean the world to me). And those little traditions and treasures I hoped to teach and pass on to them? Well, that's started happening too. Over Christmas, Sly helped decorate the tree, we made pomanders, I had him add straw to the manger, etc. etc.
And yet much of the time, I just didn't "notice" that so many of the things I'd envisioned were already happening. In my mind, I was dreaming about future Christmases, when we'd have (hopefully) more kids, and older kids, and all the fun things we could do then.
I spend too much time conceiving this "great" future, and so never let myself fully enjoy the present that I'm living in. A present that, perhaps, is only as "ideal" as it is because of prior plans and dreams of mine. But if I'm never going to appreciate it, then what's the point of planning and creating something at all?
To help explain what I mean: the other day Tom and I were sitting in our (new) living room after the kids' bedtime, just talking for several hours. It was a real luxury we allowed ourselves, since so often in the evenings we feel the need to tackle chores and projects around the house. I said to him, "you know - this room, even though it's nowhere near "finished" - is really cozy. In fact, our whole house is pretty nice and cozy. How many friends have come over and told us that?....but how often do we actually stop and just sit and be and enjoy it? We're constantly thinking of new projects we need to start, and ways to make it better, and so we never actually appreciate what we have now." He completely agreed with me.
Enjoying or not enjoying my house is one thing, but where I really need to be careful is when it comes to my family. I rarely take the time to just relish the little moments with my family that are happening now. It's fine to look forward to the future, but only if I remember to stop and notice all the blessings I already have, and to be thankful for them.