This morning I had a fried egg (in butter) and a piece of toast for breakfast. And I sat and drank my whole one cup of coffee (with cream and honey) at the table with my breakfast while my coffee was still hot. A fabulous way to start the day. Why? Because I finally figured out that an egg for breakfast makes my whole day better--therefore making the day for my whole family better. And one cup of coffee within those parameters does not make me a crabby, funky mess all day long. The whole drinking coffee all day thing was doing that to me.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Probably too much. And I'm going to get all philosophical on you, just so you know. But there are some things going on in my life that have really driven this home for me. I hope I can do it justice here.
To start, I just want you to know that I love my life. And I don't believe that it's an accident that I'm where I am and with who I'm with.
But let me back up.
Thirty some odd years ago, a collage guy tried to kiss a collage girl. She brushed him off and told him she wasn't going to kiss him with that mustache. The next day he showed up and the offending facial hair was gone.
Sometimes I think it was that one little decision that set my life in motion. It would be a few years before I was even born, but mom still claims that the moment she saw him without the facial hair he had the day before, she knew she was in trouble. But I will tell you, my dad is pretty awesome. And the woman he married is pretty awesome. (That would be my mom, if you were needing some clarification.)
When I was in collage I remember looking out my window and seeing this guy. I'd never seen him before. But I knew that was the guy I was going to marry. And I made the decision to let my roommate set me up on a date with him. On that date he made the decision to put his arm around me because, as he says, "This girl is alright."
Later his mom said something like, "Who is that girl?" referring to me. I choose to laugh about it, because it's funny. We don't suffer from the mother-in-law curse around here.
Grace, who is seven, is a great kid. She makes all kinds of good decisions. Sometimes I wonder if she's really seven. But then I realize that the kid listens to me. She doesn't make ALL good decisions, just like the rest of us, and sometimes she gets into trouble, just like the rest of us. When she is in trouble I can ask her how many good decisions she made. The answer is usually a good sized number. Then I ask her how many decisions it took to get her in trouble. The answer is always at least one. One bad decision got her in trouble. That's all it takes. Sometimes the answer is more, but any bad decision after that initial decision is just getting her into more trouble.
Granted the kind of trouble she gets into is immediate and rather temporary, but it's a great illustration for how life works. I would argue that even as young as she is, the decisions she is making now are determining how her life turns out twenty years from now. She's affecting the lives of her children. And my life in twenty years for that matter.
My decision to have an egg and toast for breakfast rather than a bowl of cereal or skipping breakfast all together affects the rest of my day. I've learned that. And I learned that from experience--by eating the wrong breakfast or skipping breakfast.
My parents made the mutual decision to get married. My mom decided it was a good idea to move fourteen hours across the country and start a new life there. Just in the last few years have I come to understand what a great decision that was.
Growing up I chose who my friends were, what I did with them, who I stayed away from, who I tolerated, and I tried really hard not to punch some people who thought I was a good target. The vast majority of those decisions I will say I don't regret.
I've come to realize that those decisions made by a teenager I no longer know played a huge part in who I am today. And where I am. Many of the things I do and some of the things that seem to come easily to me are hard for some people. How I choose to treat my husband, how I feed my family and who my friends are. Even saying no.
But I think it boils down to me deciding there weren't any other options. Yes, I failed sometimes. But the difference is that I chose to just keep on going in the direction I wanted my family to go. I chose to build my husband up rather than tear him down. I chose to not listen to the "easy way out" and to keep on towards the goal. I chose not to get discouraged. I chose to either fight back or walk away rather than stay where I felt I wasn't supposed to be. I had a goal--a good life surrounded by great people.
I feel like I owe it to my parents. And my grandparents. They made the unselfish decisions to pour themselves into my life. But, that isn't always true. Some parents do exactly the opposite and seem to expect their children to do things that children can't do. Like teach themselves how to be happy, healthy, smart kids who grow up into happy, healthy, smart adults. But kids can't do that. They'll do their best, but they can't do that without being scarred somehow. As parents, it's our job to be the person we want our kids to be, to choose carefully who our kids are with and what they do until it becomes their job and we trust them with it. Our job is to protect them and nurture them. If we want our kids to be kind and caring individuals, we need to be kind and caring with them. If we want our kids to be raging lunatics, well, we just have to be raging lunatics.
I confess that my kids have met a raging lunatic that looked a lot like their mom. I'm not proud of that. But I will also say that after the raging lunatic leaves, there are apologies on both sides. The lunacy ebbs and flows, but in the end we always seem to figure out a better way to handle the whole darn thing. We learn a smarter way to handle that situation should it arise again. Nothing like a heartfelt apology from you to teach your kids how to apologize when an apology is necessary.
I have a huge amount of respect for people who sit back and look around, decide that they don't like where they are and decide to go about fixing it--deciding to be a fighter. Whether it's overweight or in a not great marriage or in an ugly situation. I sit in my happy little life and get discouraged and it gets hard. Being up against some of the odds I've seen people pull themselves out of is unfathomable to me. And watching people pull themselves out is something that literally makes me giddy. Yes, I've made a point to call people and tell them how damn proud I am of them. And I'll keep doing that, because sometimes they just need to be recognized for it.
Like I said, I'm not perfect. The last 36 years worth of decisions has gotten me to a pretty good place. It's not an accident. It's not dumb luck. And I'm not a victim of my circumstances. I'm a fighter. I'm fighting for my kids. I'm fighting for my marriage. So far it's been worth every ounce of energy I've put into it.
And every day is a fresh start. Eggs and toast? Or some other alternative that sounds good at the moment but has a negative impact on the rest of my day. It's a choice I wake up to every morning.
After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.