I’ve been in a circumspect mood lately, most likely boring you with too much nostalgia. Perhaps it’s the recent birthday or just the ongoing realization of what an incredibly imperfect creature I am that has me thinking. All I know for sure is that the old saying “youth is wasted on the young” seems more true with each passing day.

In my 20’s, I used to tell Dick that I felt like we were in a holding pattern, waiting for our turn to take off on life’s runway – and always encountering unscheduled delays.  First, we waited until we were both ready to be married (or more correctly, I became “ready” at age 26 and then rode his ass about it until he gave in at age 29). Then, we waited to settle down and buy a house before we started a family. Along the way, jobs, relocations and life’s ups & downs all threw bumps onto our little runway, but at least there was some steady, albeit slow, forward progress.

By our early 30’s we were married, we’d settled down, and even gotten pregnant. Life was lovely and there was a brief period between the end of early pregnancy non-stop puking and the beginning of the realization of the awesome responsibilities inherent in caring for your own, personal human being, when we were high on life – downright daffy with delight.  Our holding pattern was over.  Our plane had reached takeoff speed and we had begun to soar – flying along content in our belief that our entire lives were ahead of us.

As with all good things, that feeling ended rather abruptly.  With the arrival of Adam, the #1 engine of our fancy airplane began to cough and sputter. The moment we brought him home from the hospital and realized how incredibly overwhelming and all-consuming this destination called parenthood really was, I felt like scrambling back onto the plane and leaving all the new, little baggage we’d acquired behind us. 

As you’d expect, after a few months of engine exhaustion, we began to feel like we were adjusting to a new holding pattern – only this one was dominated by a tiny, bossy little creature with very specific sleeping & feeding schedules.  Yes, we were still flying on one engine, but Dick and I were staring to feel like pretty skilled pilots.  And then fate stepped in, no doubt to keep us from getting too cocky, and charted a new course for us – a course towards adventure. To our chagrin, I got pregnant with Tabitha. The engine #2 failure light began to blink ominously…

Fast forward 3 years and now I have the husband, the children, the home, the dog, the suburban mini-van of choice, and basically the life I spent the better part of a decade trying to assemble, only now I’m confused.  Where did my life go? Seriously, how can a chick get into a good, quiet, no-rush, no-fuss holding pattern these days?  I can’t even get into the bathroom by myself these days, let alone find down time to just stop and sort out my next move and rediscover myself. Did I, seriously, spend all those years pining for this?  Is this really “it”?  Have I reached the much discussed ultimate destination for all 30-somethings, only to find that it’s a costly, over-hyped tourist trap that everyone else is trying to flee?

Sure seems that way.  

Of course, being the circumspect creature that I am lately, I cannot entirely surrender to bitterness.  I also realize how fortunate I am to NOT be in a holding pattern any longer.  As crazy as my life can be, I do have two beautiful, healthy, wildly imaginative children and a husband who adores us all.  My dog is pretty cool, too.  And that mini-van is really, freakin’ practical and I don’t give a rat’s ass if you’re judging me for being one of “those” women.  

If there’s anyone who’s still in a holding pattern here, it’s probably me.  No matter how mundane your journey or how anticipated your destination, sometimes you just have to stop navigating and enjoy the ride.  To carry on with my overwrought metaphor a bit longer – sometimes your plane is stuck waiting at the gate, sometimes it’s barely aloft and enduring a turbulent ride.  Sometimes it feels as though it’s plummeting to earth in a spectacular, flaming free fall. Occasionally, it feels as though your ride is skipping along brilliantly on buoyant clouds of promise.  

My challenge is to remind myself that no matter where or when I am, this is my life and it’s both nothing I’d every imagined it to be, and everything I’d hoped for.

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