It’s happening right now.
In the past, I thought forward. I considered and dreamed about my so very dear adult-life. The man I would marry. I wrote lists of names for my children. I sighed about where we would live. I would wonder how they would look. My so very perfect, just-so life.
And I said I would take my children to The Nutcracker someday. When *I* was a mother. And they would, of course, love it as much as I did.
That day came last week. My son had seemed interested so now, at 8, I decided it was time he went. But at 38, I try not to get too caught up in romanticising what I will do with my children anymore. Things change, kids don’t like what you did a lot of the time, real-life isn’t so make-believe. But I bought the tickets and I took him. We held hands. We walked along the Riverwalk before the show. We sat and read the program and ate cough drops together and giggled about how we couldn’t stop coughing. When the lights went down and he heard the music, he smiled. And he turned to me. He got it right away. He loved it like I had. This was something special for him, too.
Suddenly I became far too aware that the future that I had day-dreamed about for so many years is happening right now. There are no more second chances, there no do-overs. This is it. My life. My adult life. And these are my children doing some of the things I dreamed and many that I didn’t.
This Christmas season has brought lots of difficult news. Apart from some things that I have written about, two friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer (one being one of my closet college friends), there are friends with very sick relatives, some with new concerns about their children, others who have had miscarriages, and others who have lost jobs. And while things remain blessedly peaceful and healthy in my life, there is a lot of coping and getting through the season happening all around me.
Again, it is very clear to me that every hope and dream for the future is so very very uncertain.
So, I don’t want to look forward so much anymore. I don’t want to think about what will happen in my dreamy little grown-up world. And I don’t want to think about what could have been or how things used to be. I want to grab hold of the present and BE entirely in it.
I want to tie myself to this very moment and experience it and let every taste and sound and feeling sink right on in. I don’t want to miss a thing, I want my eyes wide open to it all.
There will never be another first time I get to take my oldest child to The Nutcracker. So I sat in the theater and held his hand and watched him watch and laugh and listen and clap loudly. It was perfect and everything right now needs to be.
This, my life, is happening right now. This Christmas, this time when both of my children still believe in Santa and shamelessly dance “Christmas is almost here” dances in the hallway together, in Spider-man jammies… this is happening RIGHT NOW. 8 and 5 turns into 9 and 6 next year. And on it goes.
I cherish every Christmas past. I hope for many Christmases in the future. But I am living and breathing this Christmas present. I have what I have right now — and it is a gift.
To inspire little boy smiles for our family Christmas card, we pretended to pick my 8yo’s nose.
(Now I kind of wish I had “picked” this one for our card… har har.)