This morning, after a night where sleep was interrupted by potentially serious pain, I was awakened earlier than I wanted to be by a text message. Any parent, whether your kids are teens and still live at home or they are grown adults living their own lives, knows that feeling of dread when the phone rings or the text message notification sounds at an hour you know for sure none of said kids should be contacting you. I groggily reached for my phone and attempted to focus eyes that, in the early morning hours, struggle to work together. It took several seconds and enlarging the phone font to see the message was not from any of my kids–thankfully. Fighting the desire to go back to sleep (thus messing up my entire sleep cycle for the week) I laid in bed and let my mind wander. It didn’t take long for it to rest in that place of thought that has been foremost on my mind lately, and, in resting there, I began to have this little party–a minor meltdown of self pity.
This is a big year for me. Two major milestones will be met when my birthday and wedding anniversary arrive. As I let my mind wander aimlessly on these events, I thought back to my childhood. Like many kids, I had plans for what my adult life would hold. I wanted to get married and be a mom. I envisioned myself as a wonderful mom who would always be the fun one. I planned fun vacations in my head for my future family. My kids would see all the things I didn’t get to see–Disney World, the ocean, the Rocky Mountains, the Montana Sky, Yellowstone, the Statue of Liberty, Hawaii…the list could go on. I planned for the weddings of my future kids. They would all get married and have children of their own–then I would be the fun grandma, doing all sorts of fun things with her many grandchildren. I wanted to be a young grandma so I would have the energy to do so many fun things with them. I would teach them to bake chocolate chip cookies and brownies and cakes. I would read them stories and take them on outdoor adventures–even take them to the ocean where we could build castles in the sand and play in the waves and collect shells. My husband and I would take trips to all sorts of places in this country. We would have money to explore the United States once our kids were grown.
As I thought about all the exciting things I had planned for my future self, I could feel the pity party arising in my current self. I wasn’t the mom who took her kids on fun vacations to the ocean and Disney. Two of them saw the Rocky Mountains, but that was only because of a marching band trip to Colorado during high school. Three of them did see the Statue of Liberty and other fun things in New York City, but that was due to a band/choir trip to New York. I still haven’t seen the famous Statue. My pity party reminded me that, while I did get to become a grandma at a decently young age, it’s not turning out the way I had planned so many years ago. I don’t live close enough to my grandson to pick him up and bring him to grammy’s to bake cookies. I assumed all our kids would get married and have kids–that their lives would mirror my own. That didn’t happen. I’m not sure why I thought it would–naivety perhaps. My husband and I don’t get to travel much. I did finally get to Disney–a year or so ago. My kids still have not been there.
As I thought about the upcoming “big” days for me, I felt even sadder. What fun thing do I get to do for my big birthday milestone next week?
Work. I “get” to work. Not only do I have to work, I have to close that night. I don’t think I’ve worked a Friday night since I started this job last fall. Oh, and this job? This was not in my plans that I crafted so carefully as a child. I didn’t think I’d be working retail at this stage of my life. Don’t misunderstand–I like my job. I really do. But I am not a fan of working nights. I seldom have to, but as my luck would have it, that’s what I get to do on my birthday. No special birthday dinner, no cake from the store that I love so much, no celebration for a big year…(not that I would probably have that anyway since my list of friends could fill one of those tiny post it notes)
Looking down the road a few months to our big anniversary only brought more sadness. As a young newlywed, the thought that many years down the road wouldn’t be anything but prosperous bliss never crossed my mind. What fun excursion would we take to mark such a milestone? A cruise maybe. Or a trip to Hawaii for relaxation and fun? I don’t know for sure what that day will bring, but I do know it won’t be bringing anything like the above mentioned trips.
What I never planned on, and I would safely say no one ever does, were health issues. I didn’t expect to be diagnosed with a chronic illness that would drain me of energy and physical abilities. I didn’t expect clinical depression to be a part of my life for years and years. I didn’t expect to be told I could potentially have a problem with my heart. I didn’t expect to be dealing with a lump that could potentially be cancer. I didn’t expect my husband to be hospitalized twice for heart issues. And I never could have known how much all these things, among others, would drain us of finances. Yes, we’ve come a long way since saying “I do” all those years ago. Still, where we are is not where I had envisioned we’d be.
And that made tears flow once again this morning.
As I sit here typing this, I realize that I do have much to be thankful for, so please don’t send me e-mails and messages scolding me for my pity party this morning. Working in a Christian book store, I hear stories from many people about problems they or someone they love have. I am thankful for the fact that my husband and I are still together to celebrate this big year. That almost wasn’t the case. I am thankful for my kids and their spouses and love them all more than words can say. I am thankful for my beautiful grandson even though I don’t get to see him now as often as I would like. I am thankful for my job even though there are days I have to put on a fake smile and blink the tears away. I know all this and more and am thankful that God loves me even when I am not loveable or love Him in return. Still, some days I just can’t escape the pity party that seeks me out and reminds me of all I didn’t and probably won’t get to do in my lifetime.
I know that in reality, these days are just another day on the calendar. If I didn’t write about them here, most people would never even know that I had hoped these days would be more than that. No one would know why I am sad next week. No one would know how badly I
wanted needed a vacation this year–a vacation I am not going to get as medical bills pile up and will continue to do so. That’s okay. I write about them to help myself remember that things could be worse.
Still, there will be sadness and tears as these special days arrive and depart with not a hint of celebration.