Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Past, Present, Future, and alternate universes

We just got back from a week visiting my parents in my hometown. It was relaxing, except for L's sleep disintegration which still hasn't resolved, and has me exhausted & sucking down coffee (OK, so maybe staying up past midnight reading wasn't the best idea, since he got up at 4:30 this morning...but my new Kindle...so easy to hold...and The Hunger Games...so ADDICTIVE!). So this post is kind of disjointed, I hope it makes sense to someone!

It is always weird going back to your childhood home as an adult. The town has grown so much that it is hardly recognizable, except for the parts that are exactly the same. Similarly with the house---many things are new or gone, but so much is completely unchanged. It stirs in me equal parts nostalgia and bewilderment.

Spending time with my parents is also a mixed experience, in that I find myself slipping back into my role as a child, groaning and snapping at them, and expecting to be somewhat cared for in their capable hands. Yet, while still quite healthy (and not OLD, they are in their mid-late 60s) they are slowing down slightly. The house isn't as sparkling clean as it used to be, they are walking slower, things are taking longer. What is going to happen 5 years from now? 10? I can't bear to think about it.

All parents know that vacationing with kids can be challenging. It was nice to have uninterrupted time with them, but off their routines they were cranky and difficult. We still had to do all the parenting things that had to be done. Activities my parents planned excitedly for B sometimes went disastrously, due to his fickle moods. He was surly at the zoo, & asked to leave, then wanted to go back every day and still talks about it. Who knows the mind of a toddler?!

While there, I saw 2 of my childhood friends that came down to visit (from the big city they live in, a couple of hours away). Both of these friends are single, working in demanding careers, and living alone. I know for an absolute certainty that both want (ed) to marry & have children, but now they are in their mid-30s with no immediate dating prospects, and I feel that they have given up those dreams.  I may be biased, since they are my friends, but these are attractive, intelligent, fun women who would make awesome wives & mothers. Of course, I can't really talk to them about this issue---I just don't know how to broach it without highlighting the fact that I have what they do not. It makes me really sad to think their dreams may never be realized, and grateful to the universe that I met G when I did, or my fate could well be very different.

G & I talked about this a bit...how our lives are chaotic and exhausting right now, but we chose this path & we are so so lucky to have had those choices. You may see a single person, or a childless couple, and envy their freedom & respect their choices, but maybe they were never allowed to make a choice at all.

In summary, it was a week of mixed emotions...of simultaneously seeing my past, present, and future, and reflecting on what might have been. And it sucked to go back to work.


  1. Our path professor told us a story about how she always thought she'd never have a husband because she didn't think she was attractive enough, so she buried herself in her work. (And for the record, she's obese and not very attractive.) Then one day, a friend convinced her to go on a blind date, and she almost didn't go because she was sure it wouldn't go well.

    Well she went. And they got married 6 months later. And she had a baby a year after that at age 39. So it can happen. At the risk of sounding like I'm blaming the single people, sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. And keep putting yourself out there even if you've had bad experiences before. PLENTY of not-perfect people find love. Sometimes not exactly when they want it, but it really is possible. I do think people can get unlucky and not end up finding the right man "in time," but I'd like to believe that we women have more control over this than we think.

    I don't know, easy for me to say since I'm already married I suppose. Still, I don't think we do ourselves (as women) any favors to simply throw our hands up and blame bad luck or say that men are jerks. And I also shy away from talking about any of this with my single female friends because a) I don't want to make them feel bad, and b) what do I know anyway since I'm married.

    1. While I do agree that if you don't "put yourself out there" you are unlikely to meet anyone, I can't claim to really understand the difficulties of "putting yourself out there" when you've done it repeatedly and just gotten hurt (because no one makes it to their mid-30s in the dating scene without getting totally f-ed over at least once). I can imagine that at some point you decide to protect your self and re-design your life & dreams to fit the reality. Not necessarily that "all men are jerks and I'll be single forever", but more "I'm going to live my life & if someone shows up, great". What if you put all your energy & effort into actively "finding someone" and you never do---wouldn't it be better to focus on strengthening your career, friendships, hobbies, etc... I guess I'm saying that I don't know WHAT I'd do in that situation.

    2. I don't know what I'd do either. I suppose if my husband hadn't been willing to move to Philadelphia with me when I was 29 I could have been in the same situation. I like to think that I'd have found someone new.... but who knows. I might have ended up going through the same merry-go-round of wrong-for-me men that I went through before I met my husband. And I would have been TOTALLY bitter about it too.

      Or maybe I would have found some 22 year old stallion. Haha.

      I don't think I would ever advocate putting all your energy and effort into finding someone regardless. In my experience, the harder you look, the harder it is to find someone. That's completely different from putting yourself out there.

  2. It sounds like a thought provoking visit, if not exactly relaxing... I'm forever grateful that there was someone willing to marry me. I didn't really expect that. And I'll never envy a childless couple their freedom. I know if that had been my path I'd have made peace with it, but I feel fortunate I didn't have to. So yeah, I feel very lucky to have the luxury of making my choices and having them work out!

  3. Ah, coffee. Elixir of the gods.

    Watching parents age is a difficult thing ... we always want them to be there, and then ... one day they need US to be there. This week my 90 year old neighbor fell in his back yard. His 60 year old daughter still lives with them (I think she is somehow developmentally delayed, though it isn't obvious), and when I looked out the window, she was standing there, not knowing what to do. She's a petite thing, and couldn't have lifted him if she tried. But I think the reality of his age, and his life expectancy, is setting in, and is scaring the living S@*% out of her.

    It's lucky that L. will have gotten to know them, fickle toddler that he is. :)