Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A Life Well Spent
Yesterday, I was chatting it up on Facebook, taking a small break from demolition clean up, when I got a message to call my mom, that my uncle had passed away. I just kind of sat there in shock. I knew, from the grapevine, his health was suffering, and that there was some uncertainty about his time left on this planet, but his death was sudden.
I called my mom and she was understandably upset. This is her sister's husband, married their whole adult life, and let's face it, when someone in your immediate circle passes away, within your own age range even, it's a bit jolting. My mom was feeling it yesterday. I could hear it in her voice.
And so we talked. About life. About making plans to start living after a certain requirement has been met, like after retirement, or when this or that big thing is accomplished. My aunt and uncle were just settling in to a happy retirement life, although my memories don't paint them as people who truly waited to live a good life. Everything I can remember about them is happy and active and LIVING.
This is not the case for other people I know. Scrimping and saving, being extremely wise with their time and their money, saving up for the Big Day, when they can truly START living. I think wise investing to secure a future income is definitely a good thing, but when situations like this present themselves, it does make me question how much planning for the future is ripping off the enjoyment of today. How far must we go to plan for an uncertain future? What choices would we make today if we knew our time was limited? Would we put every penny away, in a bank....or spend the extra we had to bless our own lives, or the life of someone else? Would we pass on something we truly wanted today, so that we could have something different ten years from now?
My mom and I talked about all this and for some reason, my thoughts turned to my children. Not in a morbid "Oh no....I won't be here for them forever" kind of way, quite the opposite. I explained to my mom that death didn't scare me, but not living while I was alive did and that was the very reason I have to count to 7 when I am ticking off my children. Because they ARE life. They are the "things" we want to invest in. Not a whole lot of people get that. That it's intentional. That as much as I tease and joke about the craziness that is my life, this is exactly the life I wanted, that I was brave enough to embrace, regardless of how counter-cultural it may be.
What most people don't know is that had we followed the average American life plan, and had our 1.8 children (WTFudge is this anyways? I never understood how you could decimal point humans. That's just creepy)...we'd be living a much, much different life right now. If it were just Jamie and I, and our two oldest children, our lifestyle would be drastically different. There would be private schools, instead of homeschooling. There would be international vacations, instead of camping, or hanging out at the beach. There would be loaded bags of mall goodies in the back of my brand new SUV, rather than thrift store finds in the back of my tiny Ford Focus (or 15 passenger van). There would probably be lots of workers in my house, doing all this home improvement stuff, rather than a bunch of random trips to Lowes and toddlers weilding hammers helping us knock walls out. In short, there would be a lot more, a lot nicer "stuff" and we fully understand that the choices we've made have cancelled out the possibilities for a hoity-er, toity-er lifestyle. (And most likely, my hair wouldn't suck and I'd actually know what clothes are in fashion from year to year. Maybe not. Maybe I'd still knit, and would knit ALL my clothes with all that extra time on my hands).
I guess, the stark reality is, we chose life. In a big way. Not that we think our choices are superior in any way, but they are what we WANT from this life and we were able to look past the societal expectations and pressures and just go for it. And it's hard. It's really, really hard.
My life most days is one big ball of crazy. Boredom is not a word I am familiar with. At all. There are places to get to, kids to shuffle around, kids to feed and clothe and love and teach. There are big kids wanting my attention while the little ones make a nest in my lap and there is always, always some form of entertainment happening, live, from a monolouge about the unfairness of having to pick up five more things on the floor than another kid to a wrestling match right at my feet. There is noise, and movement, and messes and cleaning....And some days I just want to run away from it all, because it feels like I'm never in control of my own destiny. I can't make a decision and run with it. I have to calculate all the possibilities and make decisions based on what could happen, what will most likely happen, what ALWAYS happens (this would be that someone will not be able to find both their shoes. It ALWAYS happens) and to be honest, this can really suck sometimes. I admit it. This life is hard. It's not some Walton family thing happening all the time, but...
Yesterday, as I was telling my mom how much my family meant to me and how much I loved each of my children, I realized I love all of this. I love the good, the bad, the easy and the hard. I love the littles and the bigg'uns and the in-betweens. I love that my house is so full of energy and life, even when there are clothes scattered all over the place, and dishes aren't done, and I have to figure out what's clogging the bathtub this time. I simply love my life.
It may have taken a bit of a jolt and a shake to realize I really do live an excellent life and it's my hope that I always do. It may not be glamorous most of the time, and I may not be known by any one other than people under this roof, but at the end of the day, I can say I've truly lived one more day on this earth, rather than merely existed.
May this always be the case....