In a well-lived life, each of us finds herself at a point where we are actually allowed to make choices over how we spend the next decade or so of our lives.
We choose to marry or not marry. We choose to have a family or not. And these days, each of us chooses, whether or not we admit it. We choose to have intercourse, we choose to carry the child to term, and we choose to rear that child. The only exception to this sequence of choices is, of course, rape.
John and I chose to have a family because we wanted one and looked forward to the entire spiel, not just the good times (of which there are plenty). But, for the next twenty some years, we had to change our attitudes about basics. The kids came first - not only - but first.
We made critical decisions based on our attitudes and abilities. I chose to stay home with the kids because, first and foremost, I wanted to. Kids are actually fun most of the time . . .
But we were in the position to choose this because my husband made enough money to make the mortgage payments, cover the utilities and insurances, and, of course, feed our hungry mouthes. So we marched into parenting with our heads held high and our worldly expectations under control.
And we did well for years. We didn't get rich, but the kids had shoes. Not Nikes, but sensible shoes from the local box store. And we got so penurious that it gave us spending and planning habits that carried us through our lives.
During these times, John and I made personal choices that enabled us to function this way. John gave up flying and other multiple interests, I gave up concerts, hardback books and anything else that couldn't be bought 50% off. It was natural.
We also made personal choices in how we grew. John wanted his doctorate, so he got it, but still managed to hold a full time job, serve in the Naval Reserves and be an attentive parent.
He did that by making enormous personal sacrifice. He did that because I made enormous personal sacrifice, I returned to work.
I also decided to finish my BS and did so. Ditto to the enormous personal sacrifices. John managed to endure my college schedule and sling a little hash (and Daddy eggs) and I progressed slowly because it takes forever to get a degree when you are mixing it up with parent-teacher conferences, slumber parties, Boy Scouts and other minutiae of parenting.
But we did it. And we found, over the years, that by supporting each other and making personal sacrifices, the family thrived. We didn't spend money on new cars, we spent money on tuition and books, and when we went to plays, we went to "Beauty and the Beast, and other family-friendly luxuries.
It's of no particular surprise, since the sun rises and sets every day, that time passed and the next thing we knew, our kids are raised and educated. We actually HAVE a little time and money on our hands. After 30 years of marriage, we managed to pay off that 30 year mortgage!
Go figure . . .
And yes, I consider myself still vital, even if I have MS, am passing kidney stones like it's nothing and enjoying other aspects of life after raising my kids.
Peter and Roger are 29 and 26. I am finally realizing that they are grown. I am at a point in my life where I can selfishly establish my own agenda without worrying about the impact on folks who need me (other than my husband, of course) and - strangely - I'm liking it.
There's something cataclysmic about passing a kidney stone. You have a lot of pain and you get a lot of drugs. The stones are passed and the drugs are wearing off. And I'm reminded that last week is gone, without so much as a weed pulled.
But it occurs to me that maybe I've been wasting my time in little ways. I've always wanted to be a writer, and, finally, I have the opportunity to immerse myself in it. I can write a book and not apologize for spending hours in the morning in my jammies in front of my computer, because, NOBODY CARES!
So, I'm writing a book, golldangit. I'm sitting in my jammies writing this blog, golldangit, and with a little luck and weather permitting, I'll annihilate a few weeds . . . you never know.
What I won't be doing is writing on parenting as much. Yes, projectile pooping is still one of my favorite subjects, but I want to write more seriously about being a woman at age 58, passing kidney stones and other marvels of life.
Raising my kids has been the most rewarding job of my life, but that part's over.
Let the good times roll!