I recently had an attack of the sort of guilt I’m told working mothers sometimes feel.
Between school and preaching, I have been going full steam for so long now that I don’t often think about how it affects The Guy, mostly because he never complains. But the other day, he came home with a package of those slice-and-bake refrigerator cookies, so he’d have cookies for his lunches. And then he burned them.
A sadder sight I have never seen, and it was all compounded by the fact that he had a hole in his pants and needs a haircut. It was like Charles Dickens wrote him, for crying out loud. My point is that right now I’m baking him cookies from scratch.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my life, and how it looks when I hold it up next to how I thought it would be. They don’t match. They don’t even come close to matching. It took me a weirdly long time to decide I was okay with that. It’s hard to give up some of the images I’ve always had about how my life would turn out. Motherhood, owning a home, having a Pulitzer Prize and maybe a National Book Award on the bookcase in my writing room…
Instead, it’s early evening on a Friday and I’m studying for my Greek quiz on Monday, painting my toenails with bottle of cheap polish I picked up for the sole reason that it’s called “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and the only pitter-patter of little feet around here is coming from the cat, who is literally trying to climb the wall because he is 94 percent insane. We don’t own this house. My bookshelves hold nothing more than books that were bequeathed to me by several recently retired pastors. I’m exhausted. I’m not sure where my glasses are. My husband has to burn his own cookies.
And yet I’m in love with my life. I’ve finally managed to stopped looking over my shoulder at all the stuff that I don’t have, and found myself happier with what I do have. It isn’t an easy point to get to, although I somehow think it should be.
I’m preaching this Sunday about regrets, and writing the sermon has made me think about my own regrets, ones that I’ve let go and the ones I’ve still been hanging onto for whatever reason.
“If it wasn’t for regrets, I wouldn’t have anything to think about,” The Rev commented when we were talking about it a few days ago.
I so get that.
But I’ve started to think of regrets like hairs in the shower drain. I think they’re gone, washed away, but then things start backing up and all of a sudden the drain is running slow and the tub is slick and all hell breaks loose. I have to make sure the regrets are really gone, that I’m forgiven, that I forgive others, and that I forgive myself.
That’s the point I came to a couple of weeks ago, when some unexpected changes came to my life and made me re-evaluate everything, from the inside out. I have no room for regrets anymore. I will keep going forward, keep looking ahead, keep planning and dreaming and growing, but I will stop looking back except in love.
I had a long talk with a dear friend over lunch this week, one of those way overdue catch-up talks that are like balm to the soul. She told me there are certain things in her life she has come to accept as part of her life as it is. She realizes her life will not stay as it is forever, but for right now, it’s her life and – for better or for worse – she’s good with it.
It did my heart good to hear it, and I walked home later feeling lighter, more centered, more at peace with my own life and in my own spirit.
I’m starting to realize that’s what we all need. Everyone. The whole world. If there are changes we need to make in our lives, then yes, by all means… make those changes. But don’t let regrets pile up. Don’t wish for what you aren’t meant to have right now. Let go of what was, and embrace what is. I may have just stumbled onto the key to world peace: fall in love with your own life.
I know I’m in love with mine.