When I was in grade-school, I played those little folded paper games, the ones with the squares that glided back and forth on my index fingers and thumbs; the ones that predicted my future. I’d answer a series of questions and find my fate written in tiny printed pencil under the fold of the third choice. Or, I’d make lists of my favorite boy names, vehicles, pets, jobs, and homes and eliminate them one-by-one by crossing off every 4th (or 6th, or 9th) word, over and over, until there was only one option left in each category – my future - I’d marry a guy named Frank, drive a bicycle, have a pet fish, work as a nurse, and live in a mansion. It was fun! And, I got really good at it too! I knew how to list the options and pick the number to create the future I wanted every.single.time. If only real life were as predictable…
I consider myself a planner - I make lists, clip coupons, prepare driving routes and meals and trips to see my mother. I buy anniversary/birthday/graduation cards before I need them, have Tylenol and Band-Aids in my car, and fold laundry right out of the dryer (because there’s just something satisfying about neatly folded piles of tees and sheets). I get kids in for dental cleanings, sport physicals, and annual check-ups...but still, no matter how much I plan, life smacks me in the face on a regular basis, because that’s what life does!
I didn’t plan to have four kids (only two), live in Wichita (try NYC), or be a speech-language pathologist (writer). I didn’t plan on natural childbirth, asthma attacks, or near-death scares. Or raising a child with special needs. I didn’t plan on calls to poison control, trips to the ER, spinal fractures, sleepless nights or car accidents. I didn’t plan to understand the worry over a sick kiddo, the frustration of another denied insurance claim, or the guilt of losing my temper, again... Or hundreds of other little moments.
But, I also didn’t plan on the sweet smell of a freshly bathed baby, or the soft, smooth, warm snuggles of tiny cheeks. I didn’t plan on belly laughs, bedtime stories, or butterfly kisses. Or the awe of a sleeping child on my chest or in my arms or in my heart. I didn’t plan to care so much about that first smile, first step, first bite, or first birthday. I didn’t plan to understand the joy of a walk around the block with a toddler, or a walk around the mall with a tween, or the excitement of a first date, first kiss, first love… Or hundreds of other little moments.
My life looks nothing like I planned it to look, thank goodness, because I’d never planned to love it so damn much!