Wait, what just happened?! I know it’s 2017 and I’ve always been pretty good at math, but there’s no way 20 YEARS just slipped through my fingers like a breeze blowing through the trees! Is there?? *sigh…..Life is a real grab bag of emotions, you just never know what you are going to get on any particular day. On this day, I hit the jackpot! I got them all.
Regardless of how many times I say it (or type it) it is hard for me to “feel” 40. I know it to be true, I see evidence of it all around me. So, what makes it so hard to believe that my 20’s actually happened over TWICE as long ago as they even lasted in the first place? I’ve pondered this concept countless times. During my most recent and vibrant debate with….myself, the hypothesis formulated by one side of my brain triggered a very dubious raised eyebrow. The answer prompting my skepticism? My kids.
Hmmm, really? My kids? Interesting. Typically, as a parent surrounded by other parents, the norm is to say/hear how our kids make us feel old and tired. We talk about how challenging and exhausting it is to juggle our kids’ schedules and how we play “taxi” until we fantasize about playing Taxi Driver. I suppose that is true in a lot of ways, I’m definitely not disputing the validity of those thoughts. I am just starting to think that there are two sides to that coin. For every energy sapping night spent burning $20 of fuel to travel no more than 10 miles away from our own house, I get bursts. I get a burst of energy, a burst of inspiration, a burst of pride, a burst of joy. When I watch my daughter on stage, wowing the crowd with her performance in the role of Mary Poppins, I am bursting with pride and joy. She inspires my creativity and makes me want to take to the stage myself, find a place to sing or perform, release my creative thoughts through writing. When I watch my younger boys expending every ounce of energy in their bodies during a soccer match or my oldest son fight through countless obstacles to become a Marine, I am bursting with pride and joy. They give me a rush of competitive energy and I want to take to the pitch, join an intramural team, start running and get back in shape, face a mountainous challenge, and WIN. My kids give me a fire I would not have without them in my life. That fire gives me energy; that energy makes me feel young and alive; which almost convinces me that I could keep up with them. Now, do I take action with all of these inspirational thoughts? Am I currently on my way to boot camp, playing soccer or performing in front of huge crowds? Spoiler alert….the answer is, no. I have spent the vast majority of my time over the last 20 years living vicariously through my children, which is what led to the birth of this blog in the first place. However, the invigoration of youth is still felt and I have now returned to writing, so I won’t be too hard on myself and will label my 40’s a work in progress.
I used to think that as my kids got older and reached adulthood themselves, I would REALLY feel old. In fact, I still say things like that in conversation but I no longer think that concept is entirely accurate. Of course, there will always be moments of reflection and nostalgia, just as I wrote about in Someday, you’ll thank me for it….I’m just not sure that I see the youthful energy I receive from watching my children grow and achieve, vanishing anytime soon. About a week ago, I felt the breeze of time blowing across my face. The wind started to pick up as my son and I hopped in the car after a fairly long day at work and began a 10 hour road trip. The purpose of this journey? To help relocate my daughter to her new apartment, in Chicago.
Although it was long, the drive went fine, we even stopped halfway to get some sleep. Once we arrived, the move went amazingly smooth, especially considering we were moving furniture to the 7th floor! My brother and his husband already live in Chicago and are conveniently located only 10-15 minutes away from my daughter’s new apartment and her roommate’s brother also lives in Chicago, so thankfully we had some extra hands. As we zipped back and forth with boxes, beds, couches and ramen noodles, my attention was consistently drawn to this woman whom I kept crossing paths with. She was carrying boxes in and out of the same building and there was just something about her that drew me in. She was young and vibrant and she moved with a purpose. She appeared quirky and eccentric, like she knew something you didn’t, which placed this world in the palm of her hand. There was an aura of anticipation and nervous excitement surrounding her which made me wonder what she was really thinking and feeling. Her smile was warm and engaging and her presence, confident and commanding. There were several times I felt compelled to say something as she passed by, but I remained quiet, slightly awestruck and just observed. The more we crossed paths and the more I observed, the more I started thinking, this is exactly the type of woman I would want my daughter to be. A woman wise enough to know she can’t predict the future but strong enough to know she can handle whatever comes her way. A woman with a zest for life who others are drawn to simply because she knows who she is and she shows it to the world. A woman who may have some small fears, but has even bigger dreams. A woman who…..she already is.
It may come as no surprise that this woman I had been observing with all of those enviable qualities was in fact, my “little” girl. **(insert burst here) Moving to Chicago had always been a dream of hers since she was 4 years old and it was a very prideful moment to watch her take control and make that dream a reality at age 20. Several people have been sad to see her move so far away or worried about her living in such a big city, I feel different. Now, don’t get me wrong, I miss her like crazy and she’s only been gone a week. Yes, of course I worry about her safety, but no more than I worry about all of my children’s safety every time they leave my sight! In this instance I feel different because SHE is different. She is what this world needs and Chicago is lucky to have her. I’m not afraid for her to move to a big city because she was made for big things. Watching her start this chapter in her life has given me another big burst of energy and excitement. It has made me see the city and the world as a place to be explored and experienced again. It has made me want to quit my job, grab a backpack and take off on a new adventure. It has made me feel young and alive, like my whole life is ahead of me. What’s that you say? A tear? ….I just got….something….in my eye. It’s the Windy City, it’s bound to happen.
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