Friday, December 10, 2010

Light Bulb Moment

Lately the only time I feel like I have thoughts worth typing is late at night. Sometimes I lay (lie?) in bed after I've turned my bedside light off and compose entire blog posts in my head. Articulate and thoughtful posts. Then I think about getting out of bed to type them out and convince myself that these thoughts are so interesting, of course I'll still remember them tomorrow. But I never, ever do.

The other night I had the most profound Oprah-type "light bulb moment" about living life in the moment. It sounds terrible now that I'm trying to put this down, but maybe by the time I finish this paragraph I'll have found my way. Or maybe the next paragraph.

Jeff and I have been watching West Wing episodes on DVD for the last few months and when I commented on how much I love Danny Concannon, Jeff reminded me that the actor playing Danny used to be on the show Thirty Something. Thinking about that show blew my mind a little because all my memories of that show are in one way or another, tied to the fact that I thought the characters on that show were SO OLD. I remember babysitting once and flipping past that channel and thinking, "This show is so boring! It's all about people my parents' age!"

And now here we are and Jeff is turning 35 in three weeks. I'll turn 32 shortly thereafter. And I don't feel old enough to be on that show. Sometimes it's shocking to realize how quickly the last 10 years have gone. How much of my life has changed in that time. Something about the first year of parenthood requires you to just keep your head down and focus on survival, getting sleep when you can and trying not to bicker with your spouse about who's doing (or not doing) what for the baby. But since Edie's first birthday (or thereabouts) I'm looking up and around more.

I was laughing to myself the other day when I thought back to how important, how pivotal I thought it was that I make all of Edie's food from scratch. I can't believe that I thought what she ate at 6 months old would actually have any bearing on what kind of eater she'd be at 4 or 5 years old! I had this idea that because she ate mango at 6 months, she would be one of those children sitting at the table in a restaurant, happily eating her fish tacos with mango slaw. With the wisdom of 15 months now under my belt, I'm realizing that most of the things I was doing at that age had no bearing on her behavior the very next week, let alone at 15 months of age, and 4? Right. This realization made me value the present so much more. I've stopped stressing out when Edie drops every single green bean I hand her on the floor during dinner. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do? I wouldn't be surprised if next week she ONLY ate green beans - I mean this girl is anything but predictable. And isn't that true of all children?

Anyways, this isn't just about Edie's eating habits. I'm talking about a bigger picture thing - my light bulb moment! It's hard to articulate, but essentially I realized that this IS my life. It's no longer - in fact it likely never was - about what I want to do or be when I grow up. I AM grown up and what I do every day is what I am doing with my life. And I realize this is perhaps easier to say when you have a child and you can wrap your identity up in a nice package called Mother, but it's not just about that.

I think I've just spent a lot of time in the past worrying about what's next. And even now it seems like I get asked at least once a week when (not if) I'm planning on having my second baby. And the amount of late night thinking this FAQ brought on was epic. But then I had my light bulb moment. And I'm trying harder to live in the present, focus less on what I think the picture of my life should be and how to make it so, and more about what the picture looks like right now. And appreciate it. Because dude, it feels like I could wake up tomorrow and be turning 40.

With Edie this means focusing more on teaching her to be a polite and curious person. And if she eats mango slaw one day, that can be a bonus. For now I'm just celebrating that she put two words together tonight - and laughing at the fact that those two words were "Cookie Please". And for myself, I'm just trying to enjoy my life as it is. Because if I spend all my time trying to decide what's next, then the only thing that's next may be more thinking about what's next.

yours sincerely,
Zenmaster Culver


Mary Anne said...

One of my favorite posts ever. I recently had the same thought re: Thirtysomething...

Marcia said...

Jill, what a touching, meaningful, makes-me-get-teary post. Your A-HA moment was gigantic! As a friend recently told me after weeks of discussing the meaning of life in a class, they determined that the meaning of life is: NOW. Pretty simple, but pretty profound all at once! You are a very wise woman to be realizing this at your YOUNG age!
.........from a medium oldster

lindsey said...

Zenmaster Culver,

I love this post. I just want to copy it and put it on my blog and type "ditto" or "yeah, what Jill said." Great job.

Kristin said...

accidental Buddhist

Laura said...

I loved this post...see, you didn't forget your brilliant light bulb moment from the night b4. Yours is such a fun blog to read and i love following what you share about you and your wonderful family.

sandralbruton said...

You help me enjoy my life Jill, daily; whether it's something happening now, happened 30 yrs ago, or what we are looking foward to in 2012.