Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Growing Perspective

It's strange how one person can become so ingrained into your life that it's as if they're a part of you, a part of the very fabric that makes up your skin and the seams that hold your heart together. How, when they're gone for a few days, you're forced to notice the emptiness of the room or the extra hole in the toothbrush holder. How there's no weight on the other side of the bed, and you actually stay on your side without it. 

It's only then that you realize how much you depend on that person; to clean the dishes from dinner, to put the baby's socks on before bed, to kill a roach quietly when the baby's asleep. 

Some of you may know, and most of you do not, but two weeks prior, Todd was let go from his job at Target. A job that became a huge blessing when Aubrey was just a baby and I was able to stay home and raise him. A job that allowed Todd to be home at 2:30 on weekdays and have weekends and holidays off. It was something we knew was coming, but after months of nothing happening, we thought he'd dodged the bullet. We thought a miracle had happened. But then the news came and the decision was made and we were left wondering what would happen next.

With a baby on the way and a growing toddler, it's a scary thing to realize that you're income-less. You start to look at things a bit differently- like those five dollars that weren't a big deal before, and suddenly it's five dollars. Or how you're running out of every face product you own and buying them all would mean spending thirty dollars you suddenly don't have. The cell phones you thought you couldn't live without become a luxury. The car sits more often because driving is just too expensive. You're conscious of every decision you make, of every cent you spend. And then you feel guilty when you're out longer than expected, didn't bring enough food to eat, and end up having to buy a cheeseburger before you get sick. 

And it's easy, especially at times like this when the situation takes your husband away from home for a few days, to be mad. To get emotional and angry and to blame someone. Because it has to be someone's fault, right? This can only mean heartache and struggle, right?

But then I think, what if it doesn't? What if this means something new, something better?

I'm not really sure that it does. What I do know is that I've been here before, not with kids and my own family, but as part of a family struggling to make ends meet. I've watched my dad work any job to put food on our table. I've watched him set his pride aside, take help when offered, and thank God for blessings that were small to others but huge for us. 

So I know we'll get through this. I know that I am blessed to have friends and family who love us and support us. I know that I am blessed to have a husband who is humble and willing to do whatever needs to be done.

And I know that, even though at this very moment, I feel afraid and lonely and am holding back tears, I am not alone.

It's times like these that I'm reminded of how much I have, of how much I take for granted. Sometimes life knocks you down on your knees to get a different perspective- everything looks so much bigger when you're smaller, and it's only then that you realize you need help to carry the load. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Really Love Your Peaches, Let Me Shake Your Tree

There's been a lot of stuff going around on FB and other social sources lately about living in your twenties. How to live them, how not to live them, what to do and where to go and who to love. Like there's some kind of rule about it, But the thing is, there isn't. There's not only no rule-book to your twenties, but there's no rule-book to life in general. End of story. Society likes to make you think otherwise- that there are certain things that are acceptable in each stage of our lives. School and establishing your career in your twenties, have some children in your thirties (you know, when you're financially stable.) And so on and so forth. It's a mold, a pre-cast chain of events that, if done differently, are frowned upon.

Children in your twenties? You've made your life so much harder for yourself.
Traveling instead of going to school? You'll never earn a degree and therefore a decent job.
Unmarried and childless in your thirties? Your biological clock is ticking!

And for some odd reason, we as women have begun to cast others into these molds. We wonder why our married friends don't yet have children, or seem to want any. We wonder why our single friends can't seem to stay in one place long enough to find their person. We wonder how they could possibly want anything else besides a family when it's just so rewarding.

Or maybe you see your friends with kids fighting over who gets to change the diaper and you wonder why they didn't wait; take a nice long honeymoon, go on a cruise on a whim. You see the woman married to her career and you wonder why she throws her life into a seemingly lonely cycle of work, rinse, repeat. Maybe you look at the woman working at Panera and wonder when she'll ever get the motivation to do something more.

Here's my thing; is there any right way? Any wrong way? Is there a timeline, a due date, an expiration date? Yeah, sure, there's the possibility of dying (it happens to the best of us) but will it even matter then, what so-and-so did with their lives when it's come to such an abrupt end? Will anyone ever say, well, she could have been so much more, if only she had went to school. And now she'll never have the chance.

I certainly hope not.

When I read articles or blogs or posts or whatever talking about people living selfishly, the only thing I wonder is: is it so selfish to want to enjoy your life? To travel? To learn outside of the box?
Is it so wrong for someone to want to see what's in the world, not from the pages of a textbook surrounded by others who couldn't give a crap about the political system of the Netherlands, but from the very origins of that system itself?
Is it so wrong to have the urge to place your feet where the stories themselves were born? To have enough motivation and passion to save all your money from your "low-end" job and go where everyone said you couldn't go? Or rather, where you wouldn't go.

That's not living selfishly; that's living freely. That's taking advantage of the time while you have it.

On the other side of things, a lot of women believe they've taken the high road by choosing to have a family and put that family above herself. As if choosing to love our own flesh and blood, and put them above ourselves, somehow makes us selfless. We cry for equality, for our jobs as stay at home moms to be viewed as important as the working women's lifestyle, and yet we claim that we are better than them, or different than them. In reality, choosing to have a family has nothing to do with being selfless; it has to do with responsibility. I am responsible for my children just as the working woman is expected to show up to her 9-5 job. Yes, my hours might be longer, my tasks a bit more tedious, but it in no way makes me more of a righteous person.

If you want an example of selflessness, look at the person who spends their entire twenties in school, studying all night and working all day towards a degree that has the potential to earn them six figures a year or more, and decides to use those skills and that knowledge to help dying children in Africa. That person, who chooses to love and to give to people who they don't know from Adam. That's just one example of many.

I'm not even going to talk about the rewards except to say this; do my rewards as a mother count as more than that of the women who just climbed Mt. Everest? Is my view better than hers? Is the smile of my son worth more than the view of the world? Maybe to me, but not to her. There's no way to properly compare the two, and anyone who does so is ignorant. Sorry if that sounds rude.

If you haven't gotten the gist of it yet, this is what I'm trying to say; whether you went to school and got a degree and are now working at your dream job, or you didn't go school and are working in some crappy restaurant or department store, or you got married and had babies, or you did all of the above, you are no less. But you are also no better.

We're all the same. Underneath the degrees and the jobs and the families and the obligations, we are all the same. We hurt, we love, we want, we give, we take. Whether you have someone to share all of that with or not doesn't make you more loved or wanted. And having someone to share all of that with you doesn't necessarily make you happier.

You choose your happiness. You choose where you go. And if you couldn't, or you haven't; if you're stuck somewhere because of some unforeseen events, you can still choose to be happy. You can choose to make your life more valuable.

And I'm out. I shall leave you with this quote, because it's my absolute favorite and because your life is your own; you are accountable to no one except yourself and your God. So choose to be happy.

"You could be the ripest, juciest peach in the world, and there will still be somebody who hates peaches."

(I personally love peaches, and I really hope this shook your tree.)