Monday, February 9, 2015

On Second Chances (And Third And Fourth And Five-Hundredth Ones, Too)

Well, it's coming up on my 40+ birthday. Because I have decided that on every birthday from now on I will merely be turning 40+. Plus what, you ask? Plus none of your business. I have decided that 40 is the largest number I ever want to say when people ask how old I am. Which they do less and less these days. On account of my advanced age. Because as you get older and older, it becomes more and more impolite for someone to ask you how old you are.  

I always thought I would be one of those people who grew old with grace, who looked at each year as another year of wisdom and experience under her belt. As it turns out, I am not so wise after all and even less graceful. I have mused a lot over this past year about what it is about 40 that has been so hard for me to accept. (That's what I do in my spare time, you know. Muse.) And what I have come up with is that I am not so much sad about having lived for as many years as I have. I am more sad about the fact that I have less and less years ahead of me to accomplish the things I always thought I might. When you are 17 or 23 or even 36 and you are having a tough year, you can always say..."Eh, I'll have it all together by the time I'm 40. Just wait and see." And then guess what happens when you are 40 and your life is in as much shambles as ever? Well, let's just say that I am not so foolish now as to think that I will have it all together by the time I'm 60. (So maybe I have gained a little wisdom after all.) 

Turning 40, for me, has meant the end of a lot of my past dreams and the acceptance of stark, cold (mean and ugly) reality. I will never compete in the Olympics. I will probably never write a book. I will more than likely never go to Greece. I will never sing back-up for Neil Diamond (no matter how good I sound belting out Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show in my car.) I will never learn to play the guitar (besides the Guitar Hero kind.) Or the harp. Or the cello. I may never own a nice car (in which to sing Neil Diamond.) I will undoubtedly never have a clean house. I will never be a Grammy-award winning songwriter. I will probably never play a dead-body on CSI: Miami or Law & Order. I might not ever get my master's degree (the jury is still out on that one, but the bachelor's may just kill me dead.) I will probably never have a retirement account. Or a savings account with more than $25 in it. 

Silly as some of these aspirations may be, it's more than a little bleak to feel the passing of time and to have them slip entirely out of my grasp. And, sadly, this is what I have focused on a lot over the past year. The unmet goals. The unrealized hopes. The missed chances. I'm not saying that I'm ready to throw in the towel or anything. And with any luck I have many years ahead of me in which to accomplish other things. But it has been a little hard to accept that a lot of the hopes I had for myself 10 or 20 years ago will never see the light of day. Stupid 40+.

As I sat there a few days ago mulling this over (because when I'm not musing, I'm mulling) I turned the focus for just a brief moment to the things I still have the chance to do. Every single day. 

The chance to respond to my children with patience instead of anger when they interrupt me for the zillioneth time while I'm in the middle of homework. 

The chance to be understanding and not judgemental when I come across people who are different than I am.

The chance to lift others instead of wallowing in my own lack of accomplishments. 

The chance to choose drinking water over drinking a Vanilla Coke. (Just kidding. That would be silly.)

The chance to build my children up so they can become the amazing people I know they were meant to be. 

The chance to smile and laugh instead of pouting and crying.

The chance to get on my hands and knees and play with my 5-year-old and the toys he left all over the floor instead of yelling at him to pick them up.

The chance to see the glass as half-full even when it looks pretty dang half-empty.

And most importantly, even though I am a hopelessly flawed mother-friend-sister-daughter-human-being who will blow most, if not all, of these chances on any given day...the chance to forgive myself and try again when I fail. 

And to be grateful for second, third, and five-hundredth chances to be a better person tomorrow than I am today.


  1. You say the smartest, funniest, make-me-cryingest things. You are such a wealth of knowledge and support and humor and validation and so many other amazing, important things for the people around you. Maybe you can't see all of what you have accomplished, but I can see at least a small part, and even that blows me away...whether or you drink water instead of soda, save more than $25 at a time, or sing back-up for good ol' Neil Diamond. (Can I get a halle-halle-lujah?) Love you. Can't wait to hug you again.

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