Monday, January 19, 2015

Like It's Your Last

My husband and I went out on Saturday night for our anniversary.  12 years have passed since we left that church together, and life has gone in ways we could have never anticipated on that night. While the kids were tucked in bed by our wonderful babysitting cousin, we savored dinner and the ability to talk - really talk - for the first time in a while. This life of ours doesn't slow, quiet or calm down much for adult conversation of any depth. We covered a lot of ground over two and a half hours. One question we both thought on and eventually answered was - if you knew you'll die one year from tonight, how would you live this last year? A macabre question, perhaps, but an important one.

The older I get, the more I realize that living a joyful, contented life relies heavily on the ability to hold the good with the not-so-good. When I was younger, I would mentally throw in the towel on a day that went wrong, or be content to simply wait out a tough season until a better one came along. So sure that there would always be another year, another chance, another try at this whole thing, and maybe that time it would all go according to plan. According to my plan.

But each day has enough trouble and triumph for itself. I thought about it while giving my two littles a bath the other night. Kneeling in our tiny upstairs bathroom, knitting and watching them play. They remind me so much of my oldest two, a boy/girl pair of the same distance apart. I was a different mom back then, always pressing on to the next thing, impatiently. When the two of them were the same ages at Pete and Rosie, I was pregnant with my third. Tired, overwhelmed with two toddlers and convinced that if I just rushed through this season, a smoother one would be behind it. Life didn't really work out that way.

Our family grew and our house seemed to shrink and I suddenly find myself here. In some ways, in the same exact place. Bathing two little ones in a too-small bathroom. But something has changed.

I dry these little people off after a long period of splashing and playing because you're only little once. I tuck them in bed in the small rooms that hold their four older siblings that we somehow make work with each arrival. I'm not thinking of waiting happiness until I have the house I want, or until the exhaustion and discomfort of this pregnancy passes. I've seen how the years flip on by, how babies grow into preteens when you're waiting for life to really begin. Somewhere, along this road that I would have never planned going this way, it has become more than I could have possibly imagined.

You can wait to live your best life until everything falls into place, or you can live it today, right now. Even if it doesn't follow your plan, or your preferences. The trick to living in joy is gratitude - because that always leads to contentment. Acceptance. Ownership.

My goal is to live a life of joy. Not because it's perfect. Not because it's smooth. But because when I hold it all together, this one-chance-is-all-you-get life is good enough. In fact, it's wonderful.

When I look ahead at this new year and think what I'd change if it was to be my last, I can see what matters the most to me. While there's nothing wrong with long term plans and goals and, yes, we need to be mindful of the future, I can see that my highest priority in life is and will always be love.  And what a privilege it is to be able to live that, every day.

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  1. Happy anniversary!

    This post was something I really needed to hear right now. Something potentially very hard (and very long term) is looming on our familial horizon, and I needed the reminder that hardship doesn't have to extinguish joy.

  2. Lydia, Always enjoy the reflective tone of your posts and the gentleness, your posts always 'speak' to me xxx

  3. I loved this Lydia, thank you. Choosing peace and happiness NOW is so important, even when it is hard.


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