The other day, Savage Garden’s Truly, Madly, Deeply song came on the radio. My husband and I half sang along, half mumbled whatever words we could remember from when we were in seventh grade and belted out the lyrics at awkward school dances. This song was my anthem back then, even though the only person I loved truly, madly, and deeply at that age was Bonnie Bell and her fabulous Lipsmackers.
“Do you realize,” I asked my husband, “these kids are closer to going to their middle school dances than we are?”
This shouldn’t be a shocking realization. But the truth is, a good part of me still feels like an awkward teenager. I worry about the things you aren’t supposed to worry about at this age – am I pretty? Do my friends like me? What am I going to do with my life? I worry that people would judge me if they knew how insecure I am, and so, like any other person of my generation, I hide my secrets on the internet in hopes that someone else will admit to feeling the same.
When I was in school, my entire life was before me. I stared at it as if I was before a map, wondering what path I was going to take. I wanted to do so many things – publish a novel, become an aid worker on the other side of the world. Now, I have picked a way and started heading down it. I am a wife and a mother and I love this path, especially the companions I have alongside me. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering if I could have taken another path and ended up in the same place, or if I should drag my travel partners down another road. I must say, the way I’m taking sure does involve a lot of Sesame Street.
I scroll through Facebook as I rock my little ones to sleep and watch friends from college walk across Ivy League stages to receive diplomas and extra letters after their last names. I spy on their trips to Europe and burgeoning careers in Africa. I would be lying to say that I wasn’t jealous, or that it didn’t make me wonder if I have done anything substantial with my life.
The answer, of course, is obvious. I have birthed and raise two sparkling human beings who, without a doubt, are and will always be, my greatest accomplishment. But for reasons I can’t put my finger on, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.
No path is set in stone, and so as I near 30, I still find myself wondering what I will be whenever I get around to growing up. I debate how much I have to publish before I can start introducing myself as a freelance writer instead of a stay at home mom. And that is not because I don’t believe parenting is an important role in our society. It’s because I have seen that the stay at home moms in my life don’t get credit for all that they do – the raising children, running households, managing finances, volunteering, helping neighbors, working on the side. And, again, I would be lying to say if respect didn’t matter to me.
Perhaps I am too insecure. Perhaps I don’t want to let down that little seventh grader who thought she would become the first woman president of the United States. Maybe I need to start trading my uncertainties for contentment.
I think that I am where I am supposed to be right now. I’m not sure about that, but for now, it’s my best guess. At some point, there will be another proverbial fork in the road. Maybe I will take it, maybe I will happily keep heading down this same path. And maybe I just need to stop looking back.