Life lately: two little words that can mean a multitude of things, depending on the situation … the day … even the moment.
I’m happy to report that for me, life lately is anything but exciting.
Yeah, you read that right: happy that my life lately is not exciting.
With all the horrific violence that’s been happening in our country lately, I’ll take boring thankyouverymuch. I’ll take life where my biggest complaints are the ongoing, seemingly never ending frigid temperatures and the fact that at age 48 I still never know what to make for dinner. Days spent panicking that my daughters are growing up, up and away faster than all those people promised me they would back when they were toddlers? I’ll take them, because I know how fortunate I am to see them grow up, up, and yes, even away.
It’s unfortunate that it takes really bad things to happen to force this kind of perspective, isn’t it? I mean, we all know that we should live our lives appreciating the little things, but how often do we practice it? I’ll admit, it’s easy to get bogged down by things that, upon close inspection, are ridiculously inane. We complain and gripe about things that would seem like blessings if that one bigger thing were to unthinkably happen.
I remember when my second baby was born almost 10 weeks early (I say second because it had happened five years before as well). The months on bedrest and then the countless days spent in the hospital leading up to her very sudden, premature birth were terrifying — I’ll give them that. Not knowing if my baby would survive was an insurmountable fear, and the loss of control I felt over the whole situation was paralyzing. It’s been almost 17 years, but I can still remember thinking, “I’d give anything to be complaining about cleaning the bathrooms … or agonizing over what to make for dinner.” (It’s been a lifelong complaint.)
And then, in the days after she was born, on one of my daily trips to the NICU, I remember clearly a day when I hit the wall. The 40 minute drive each way was grueling to a new mother whose hormones were still completely fucked up, who was battling painful mastitis in her left boob, who was having to juggle childcare for her 5-year-old every day during the hospital run (not to mention be present for the 5-year-old who didn’t really understand why her new baby sister wasn’t home), and who was existing mainly on Taco Bell burritos, eaten on-the-go in the car.
And then I walked into the NICU and discovered a curtain that was drawn around the incubator station next to my daughter’s.
“What’s going on?” I asked the nurse. We’d seen that baby for weeks, and had come to expect the familiar faces of her parents, there on a daily basis as we were.
“The family is having a private goodbye,” the nurse quietly told me, saying no more.
Not that she needed to.
I got it.
I got slapped in the face with it—hard.
Sure, my fears over my tiny, fragile preemie were justified; she was fighting a battle with her oxygen levels and had a tiny tear in a valve in her heart that the doctors were trying to repair with meds in her IV (which they thankfully did). But my own complaints? The exhaustion, the physical pain, the emotional roller-coaster, the Taco Bell addiction? Minimized, instantly. I can’t say they were erased — and they shouldn’t have been; after all, it was a legitimately difficult time — but things were definitely put in perspective. Somehow my baby’s health issues (which we were confident she would overcome) and for sure, my own issues didn’t hold a candle to the depths of what that family was going through.
(Full disclosure: I did not stop complaining about the damn mastitis. That shit is real.)
All it takes is a moment — a second — for something to happen that would make us desperately crave our boring lives and our petty complaints. A diagnosis. A wrong turn. A phone call in the middle of the night. A senseless act.
And I don’t know about you, but I tend to forget that when things are going along well. The piles of snow outside my window, the piles of crap on the kitchen counter where the piles of crap do not belong, the jeans that are suddenly too tight, the seasonal cold that makes me feel like crap but is just a cold, the dirty dishes in the sink, the cat vomit I stepped in … again: all things that I’m vowing to think twice about before I bitch about them.
Except, of course, for what to make for dinner.
It’s kind of my thing.
So what’s my life like lately?
Shopping for school dances; dealing with teenage anxiety and homework (which are one and the same); helping proof-read resumes and cover letters for my college daughter who is thisclose to graduating; ignoring the inner voice that keeps telling me to write more; feeling guilty for ignoring the inner voice that is telling me to write more; trolling Target; dreaming of tropical locations; spending way too much time on my art-therapy; working out to quiet the voices in my head; buying way too many cute clothes at the cute shop I
pay to work at work part-time at; and taking baths — lots and lots of hot baths — to try to thaw the blood that has frozen in my veins.
See? Boring, just like I told you.
Lovely, isn’t it?