Why I’m Surprised (but Grateful)

Here I am, retired and nowhere near where I expected to be at this stage of my life. What happened to those lofty dreams of years ago when I pictured myself in a luxurious mansion sipping cocktails by a pool overlooking the Mediterranean? I guess I killed them. I didn’t choose to kill them. I killed them with my choices.

Choice #1: Going to college instead of joining the Navy. The Navy appealed to me as a high school senior because it promised world travel with a good salary and future retirement benefits. I didn’t want to leave my boyfriend, so I went to college. I also didn’t believe I could make it through basic training because I am basically a wuss when it comes to physical activities. I am not athletic in the least.

Choice #2: I followed my heart while in college. I married before I graduated, and he was young. He had to find a good job and never went to college himself. He did work hard providing for me and our eventual kids, though. He said he wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I think he would have been better off waiting. I would have been, too.

Choice #3: Not finishing my pre-med program. I didn’t take Chemistry or Physics in high school because I was afraid of failure, and my first Chemistry class was a disaster. I learned nothing because the teacher wasn’t a good one. I barely passed the second semester under the other teacher, so I decided I would never be able to pass Organic chemistry. I also have a phobia of needles, which people say you get over, but I hate fainting in class (which I did three times).

Choice #4: Not taking Chemistry and Physics in high school. I was scared of the teachers and failure.

Choice #5: Letting fear control my decisions.

I did make other choices affecting my life’s journey, and I’m not saying I regret making easier choices, but I am in a different place than I expected to be. But isn’t that what God is all about? Taking us on new and unexpected journeys? He has blessed me with a loving husband, two beautiful children and their spouses, and three wonderful grandchildren.

My cup is full, although my mansion is a 1961 wood frame three-bedroom home and I might sip coffee or wine on my deck or front porch. Who needs a mansion on the Mediterranean anyway? I have one “just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old” (old church hymn) anyway!

What about you? Have you landed where you least expected? I’d love to hear from you!


Life Memoirs

Hang on, Mama!

Step on the brakes!  Your baby has made it all the way to his last year of school.  This is the year you have been working toward, the culmination of all those years of trudging through his childhood, buying that mountain of school supplies every August just to find out that by October he was all out, buying school clothes sometimes several times a year because he just Would. Not. Stop. Growing.  Not to mention those endless nights of homework, after school practice, ball games, and the myriad other activities that keep parents on the road seven nights a week.  What happened to not scheduling activities on church nights?
Here you are, in the last year of her school life, navigating cap and gown orders, graduation invitations, and senior pictures.  She likely has her driver’s license so you don’t have to be the driver any more.  Your angst at getting in the car again for another trip to school has been replaced by the worry that she will be in an accident in her own car or yours.  You don’t know all her friends any more, much less their parents.  You have to trust her to make her own decisions, because that, after all, is what you raised her to do.  She doesn’t need you as much now, or possibly she needs you more, if only in the background as she tries her wings.
Brake and brake often.  Savor these last few months of their childhood.  After graduation they may leave your nest for good, like my oldest child did.  As I happily celebrated his graduation and helped him prepare to move to an apartment and go to college 100 miles away, I forgot to brake.  I forgot to hold on.  It’s been fifteen years and he has never come back, except for visits that are way too short.

My son and his friends gathered around our dining table.  He’s in the white shorts and blue shirt.

I was fortunate enough to teach in the same high school he attended, and one of my fondest memories is watching him coming down the hall with his friends to greet me with their own unique salutation.  They were full of youth and energy and they made me laugh.  How forlorn the halls were the next year without Matt and his friends.

I recall the many nights when he and his friends would crowd around our dining room table talking and laughing.  I never thought I would have enough food for them all, but they managed to entertain themselves and get their fill of snacks.

Hubby and daughter Natalie on her graduation trip to Pensacola Beach
These times, though often making for worrisome late nights, were short-lived.  Far too soon he was gone, finished college, married, and now has a child of his own.  No regrets, only the knowledge that I didn’t realize how much more I should have savored each moment.  My daughter graduated a few years later, a year early in fact, and it still felt like a whirlwind.  Natalie and her friends were fun as well, but soon they scattered as life has them do, leaving me with an empty nest but a heart full of wonderful memories.

So hang on, mamas and daddies of high school seniors.  It’s a fast and furious year, and it takes no prisoners.