Missing the Boat or Enjoying the Ride?

I’ve written of how I tend to see things as black or white, working or broken, good or bad, messy or tidy…it’s simply how I seem to see things, not a choice, really, I just don’t seem to recognize a lot of gray areas or “sort-ofs.”  Last night I watched my grandchildren run home through the trees of the area of woods that separates their house from mine; one in flip-flops and one barefooted, one round and soft still with all her ‘baby fat,’  with greenish eyes that see everything in such a unique way, with a head of long  blonde curls, and the other tall and lean and lithe, with these fierce chestnut eyes, and every brunette hair on her head determined and confident…I wished them a great last day of school, kindergarten and 3rd grade respectively, and remembered and realized that whether we are ready or not, life just keeps changing…There is nothing we can do but to live, as well as we can…time isn’t stopping or slowing down so we can catch up…

When I look at these daughters of my daughter, my delight in their existence is sometimes combined with a presentiment of loss…they will soon not want to smooch and cuddle and hug me wildly, they will soon not share every detail about their day with me, they will soon find I am just a driver and a cook and a maid for them…but perhaps, because I am not their mother, they will maintain a relationship with me different from that with my daughter.  My mother and I butted heads, a lot and often, but I never seemed to ever tire of time spent with my Mimom or my Nana…I could shoot daggers out of my eyes towards my mother when she annoyed me, but I think I always looked with love at my grandmothers.

I worry sometimes, that because I don’t have a “traditional” relationship with my granddaughters, that our connection won’t maintain the special-ness that it now has…by this I guess I mean that because I do help to raise them, and they are here with me much more than most children are with a grandparent, that the magic bits will be lost in time…Grandparents are usually, I guess usually, the ones where time spent with them is play, joy, laughter, treats…not having to be disciplined or do homework or clean their rooms, but because I am helping my daughter to raise her girls, I am forced to be a “mom” a lot, and I hope that does not diminish the magic of my NaNa-ness.

I have written before that I was married, a mother, and divorced all by the time I was 20, so I spent much of my adult life feeling like I missed the boat…I went to college while working full-time and raising my daughter when friends were traveling, partying, going on dates, DOING FUN STUFF when I was not…my Aunt, who was then and is now again my neighbor, has told me often that many nights if she wasn’t sleeping she’d look out her east windows and see my dining room light on at late hours knowing I was up doing homework long after I had tucked my child into bed, and some of those nights, working on my Smith Corona at the table I would think to myself, “this will all be worth it, someday”  But, that someday never did really come around…despite graduating college with straight A’s, only 12 of us in the entire class of 1800 did so, and despite my volunteering at the jail and the probation department every Tuesday, my only day off, for well over a year, and writing countless letters and sending in too many resume’s to count, I never did get the job I always wanted with the Prosecutor’s Office or any of the departments to which I applied…and with every letter I sent out I would wonder, “how could they not want me?!”  I didn’t know another girl who worked as hard as I did or cared as much as I did about anything…but it never came to be and I had to accept that I somehow missed the boat, the  S.S. R*’s Career…

So here I now am, 22 years later back to the same street where I lived while I raised my child and went to college and dreamed big dreams, in a different house, but sharing the same woods and field with my Aunt, in the same 5 acre radius…where my grandchildren now can run to my Aunt’s back yard through the same field as their mother did…what was once the woods in my Aunt’s back acres, is now my house and my daughter’s house…I have come full circle so to speak…Now I look out my east window some late nights, to see that my daughter is doing homework long after she has tucked her girls into bed…

Very little of  my day-to-day life is anything at all like I had hoped it would be…most of my “dreams” for the life I wanted to live have been dashed by reality…I never did find a love and got the chance to have a husband and more children, I never did find the great job in the criminal justice system as I had intended, I never did get to see much of the world let alone my own country, I never did get much of what I wanted, or thought I wanted, I missed the boat of love, career, family, & travel…none of those journeys none of those life experiences none of those dreams came to be…but last night, having those two little girls wander over to my house, to chat, use my computer for a bit, and say goodnight, unexpected and uninvited, but always welcomed with open arms and a smile, made me think that I might not have ever gotten much, if anything, of what I wanted, but maybe I got what I needed and that’s not a bad ride at all…Time is like a FLASH!  These two little girls, whose first gulps of air on this planet inexplicably changed my life for the better, are having their last days of kindergarten and 3rd grade today, I cradled them in my arms during their first 48 hours of life and now they are having their own full lives, dreaming already of boats they don’t want to miss…Life is a love, a job, a group of people, a journey and it just keeps on flowing & moving whether we are ready for the inevitable changes or not.  Time cares not for our ability to handle what is happening.  I’ve read a quote before that goes something like, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be”  and I think that is how best to start seeing  my  life, at this stage of my life, probably now more than half lived, perhaps I did not miss the boat, maybe I was supposed to take some other journey…not good not bad, not black not white, somewhere in between…

 

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