When did life get so complicated? At what point did it start being about decisions and money and responsibility? I hope I didn't set that up as if I'm about to provide some answers. I wish.
It's true what they say. Parenting is hard. Harder than it looks. And you find yourself having an inner dialogue with your self-confidence, trying to convince it that 2 is hard, but 3 will be easier. Years old, that is. If I can just get past this or if he would just grow out of that — things will be different and the smooth sailing will begin. And then you actually get to that next stage and you become painfully aware of all the fruitless, wishful thinking.
And it's not just parenting. I've been thinking a lot about growing up. My high school reunion is this weekend. Ten years. Have I done ten years worth of growing up? In high school, you make plans that are only barely based in any semblance of reality. You make promises to yourself and to your friends about staying in touch and meeting at THIS restaurant every year for the rest of eternity to laugh at THIS joke and everything will be the same as it ever was and we will always be friends, the end. And then life happens. And at first, you feel terrible if you don't make it home during every break from college. You feel like you're missing out. You miss high school and the way things used to be. But over time you do some growing up and you start becoming the person you're supposed to be, and you let high school get a little further away.
And then you look up and it's been ten years. And you realize that you've spent the last couple years really diving into your new, grown up life. And that you're really happy with the way things are starting to happen. And you find yourself wondering about those people in high school. Those friends you thought you'd never be able to leave behind. And you realize it's been years since you've seen some of them. And you can't wait to reconnect and find out what they've been doing with their own grown up selves. You already feel happy for them and can't wait to hug a little, cry a little, and smile for pictures that you'll be digging off your hard drive in another ten years.
Colt won't go with us to the reunion this weekend but I'll probably think of him the entire time. I already have trouble making sense of it all when I try to think of my High School Self and my Grown Up Self – all in the same day. I dug out the scrapbook I made of my senior year and have flipped through it several times in the last week. The girl in those pictures is barely recognizable. In many ways. The me in the pictures these days is toting (or chasing!) a toddler little boy. I have a job and responsibilities, and daily decisions to make. And the girl in that scrapbook is performing on stage in a school musical or painting a house on a youth mission trip or with friends at a high school pep rally. She THINKS her life is dramatic and complicated. What with homework and play practice and college decisions to make. Who IS that girl?
I remember being really hard on myself in high school. Maybe more so then than now. I remember feeling that I'd never be able to keep it together and I'd never be a good decision maker and I'd never learn to truly feel comfortable with myself. Poor, poor me.
And while I'm still hard on myself sometimes, I've decided that the only way that the Sarahs at either end of these ten years can coexist, is to accept each other for what they are and who they are/were genuinely trying to become. They've been MY ten years. And I'm happy with them. And I think I needed all ten years to pass before I would be able to look back on that girl in the pictures – and be proud of her.
I think maybe acceptance is my favorite part of parenting, so far. Kids have no concept of imperfection and no capacity for judgment. To a two year old, there are no two more enthralling, perfect people in the whole wide stinkin' world than Mama and Dada. Colt doesn't care how long it's been since I dusted and he doesn't care that I'm not a great driver. He doesn't even care if I'm sometimes so tired that I have to make up some of the words as I go along, he sits in my lap and listens with the sweetest look on his face – as if he's never heard anything more enchanting than the sound of my voice singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider". And on the most complicated of days, when the decisions are the toughest and the responsibilities are the most trying, I always know there's a Little Guy waiting for me with a grin that could melt steel and a heart the size of Texas who loves me despite it all. Take THAT, high school.