Once upon a time I wore heels to work. I had a laptop, a company car, and a corporate AmEx card. I lunched with work friends without giving too much thought to how much I was spending. I spent my weekends laying by our pool, going to movies, sleeping in, and eating out. We took leisurely vacations to Key West, the Bahamas, New York City. Even as I type this, I am thinking, was that really me? Was life ever really that simple and easy? Was that really only 4 years ago?
Once upon a time I had my very own apartment. It was in (what I thought to be) a hip part of town. I loved this place. The apartment complex looked like Melrose Place on the inside, with a pool smack in the middle. The windows were so flimsy that in the winter, it was too cold to sleep in my room, so I slept on the couch. Which I loved. In the spring I would open the balcony doors and turn on music, and it was heavenly. It was all mine. In the fall and winter, the air would be heavy with the smell of barbecue ribs from the famous restaurant just down the street. And I think, was that my life? Was I ever really so carefree? Was that really just 10 years ago?
Once upon a time I worked on a dude ranch. I was graduating from college and wanted an adventure. I had never been further west than Mississippi and I didn’t know a soul out there, but I sent in an application and got a job. I bought a cowboy hat and my sister and I road tripped out to Colorado. I stayed for 5 months and met a ton of interesting people. Everyone thought my southern accent was hysterical. I came home with a nasty cigarette habit and a penchant for John Denver music. And I think, was that really me? Was I ever really that adventurous? Was that really only 11 years ago?
Now I am wife, mother, housekeeper, cook, accountant. I teach water aerobics. I spend a great deal of time every day feigning interest and delight as my child yells, Mommy watch DIS!!! I respond to hysterics that stem from pajama pants and socks separating and leaving a bare swatch of leg skin vulnerable to the cold, night air. I wipe butts, I wipe faces. I walk by a mirror and think, why is it that my hair has a Friar Tuck quality about it? I go to the grocery store twice in 3 days and still can’t remember that we need ketchup. I commit to memory the name of every train in the Thomas series. I pack 2 sippy cups and at least 4 snacks every time I want to run out for anything. I clip coupons, I read sale papers, I meal plan, I try to buy good, nutritious food for my family, yet there are still pop tarts in my pantry. My body is a human jungle gym to these crawly, climby, jumpy boys. I read books, I sing songs. Every time I walk in the kitchen, there is a load of dishes that need to be put away. I desperately need new clothes and yet every time I find a second to shop, I find myself in the children’s section buying something for the boys instead. I ask them what does a lion say, what letter says Guh-Guh-Guh? I referree fights from 2 rooms away while taking a shower. I change sheets 2 days in a row because of a Pull Up malfunction. And on days like today I look around and think, is this really my life?
Some days I feel like Nicolas Cage’s character in the Family Man (one of my favorite all-time movies) when he is saying to his wife, This isn’t my house….those aren’t my kids…..I’m not supposed to be here!!!
In a few years, my boys will be in school, real school, all-day school. They will make real friends, friends that are much cooler than me. They will ask to spend the night away. They will get involved with sports or other activities and I will become their driver, their cheerleader. Mom, can I have $20 to go to the movies….but drop me off on the other side of the parking lot. One day they will be driving themselves. One day they will be gone raising families of their own. I will look around this empty house and think was that really me? Was that really my life? Was I ever really that lucky and blessed to have all day with those 2 breathtaking boys? Was that really only 20 years ago?
So I remind myself, soak it up, mama, it’s only for a season. Enjoy it all while it lasts.