Oh let's settle down
little house, little town
start a family
we could be so happy
Oh and we'd have two
a little me and a little you
house filled up with laughter
we'd live happily ever after
Fm Radio, Happily Ever After
It is eleven thirty and I have been up since six-thirty-four. I crawl into bed beside my man and exhale.
"I don't think I even went to the bathroom today."
He finds this funny and I don't.
Somewhere in the middle of checking on my baby every twenty minutes and teaching and being patient and not being patient and peanut butter and all that life brings, he draws the short straw and gets what is left, the remainder, the exhausted me who keeps makeup remover wipes on my nightstand for when I'm too tired to go downstairs and wash my face.
I never intended for this to happen.
I learned to live half alive; songwriter Christina Perri gives voice to the sentiments of almost everyone I know. I am busy, you are busy, we are busy. We live half alive.
When did happily ever after become busily ever after?
When did I start talking all day long? And not to him?
Don't put pencil lead between your teeth.
It's okay that the birds are kissing each other
Pick up your room.
Look for your Awana Bag.
Blow your nose.
Yes I'll pick up Terro. No, I don't know why we have ants.
And I spell words. To children. While doing laundry, whispered aside during phone calls, from the shower, while I'm upstairs and they're down.
I N V I T E D
G O I N G
T H E Y apostrophe R E
Y O U
W I I
C U P C A K E
Spelling, spelling words, all day long. Sometimes I want to tell them that misspelled words are ok. I do tell them that. They are little perfectionists like their daddy and they have to spell it right.
Maybe they'll be English teachers.
How do I only have $20 left in my grocery budget again? What is wrong with my planning system? How can these tiny little people eat this much food?
I pick up a book and read while I take care of my baby, and it grips me to the core as I see another grieving mother who lost herself in loss and forgot what really mattered and years later reaps the bitterness and pain. She could be me. I don't want her to be me.
"I don't hate you."
"I'm so sorry I failed you, Sarah. I live with so much regret. Not watching Nate more closely, not getting to him before it was too late, losing all those years with you. . . I wish these pharmaceutical companies would make an anti-regret pill."
I take in this sincere wish and study my mother's face- the worry lines, which are really more like worry trenches, dug between her eyebrows an along her forehead, the sorrow in her eyes, regret etched in every feature. Some future FDA-approved, prescription medication isn't the cure for her pain. My mother doesn't need another pill in her pillbox. She needs forgiveness. My forgiveness. And although I don't hate you and It wasn't your fault come as ready, honest offerings, I know they're only palliative at best. "She's not ugly" isn't the same as "she's beautiful," and "he's not stupid" isn't the same as "he's smart." My mother's cure for a lifetime of regret lies within the words I forgive you, spoken only by me.
Left Neglected, Lisa Genova, ch.25,pg.230
I don't want to live half alive. Busyness and the lesser details of life can be a tunnel of its own kind, unlike grief and yet like it. I don't want to look back later, having missed all of the moments that really mattered. With my children. With my husband. With the people that God has placed in my life.
Underneath the makeup remover wipes and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? on my nightstand is another book that has my current attention: Social Thinking At Work. In this book, the authors quote Gary Smalley: Life is relationships; the rest is just details. If this is true, then so much of my time is spent on the things of lesser value.
I want to live happily ever after with this guy that I fell in love with long, long ago, so long ago, when we cuddled on a loveseat and dreamed about the little farm we were going to live on with our little boys that would be sun-tanned and overall-clad.
I want to remember the expansive forgiveness of those years, the buoyant youthful hope and plans, before the grief, before the loss.
I remember buying him a card once, long ago. . . You hold the umbrella, babe, and I'll hold you.
That was before I knew that sometimes he couldn't hold the umbrella and sometimes I wasn't strong enough to hold him.
For so long I thought happy ever after would never be an option and we were doomed to survival and Kleenex boxes and weeping and dragging ourselves through the next day, week, month, year.
Then grief fades and there stands Busyness, ready to move in and take her place as the great Love-stealer, Romance-squasher.
For now. . . for this day, this moment, I have this beautiful dream in my grasp, these beautiful children, this amazing man who loves me so much. It's priorities and putting the capital letters where they belong, on people's names, not events and things. It's letting some lists go and letting some expectations slide. It's realizing we're living the ever after and it might not always be happy but we have each other.
I'm declaring war on you, Busyness, I'm declaring war on this great love-stealing scheme.
Let's grow old but not grow up
young at heart is young enough
let's do everything we promised
let's do everything we always wanted
It's a feeling you can't touch
to love someone this much
we'll look back with tears in our eyes
on the best years of our lives
Fm Radio, Happily Ever After