Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My Wal-Mart Epiphany

Ever have one of those random moments when reality smacks you in the back of the head? As I was walking through the grocery store the other day I sneezed, subsequently peed on myself, and had an epiphany. (It was a very busy moment in time.) I’m getting dangerously close to my VERY late, late, late, late, late, late, late, twenties, and it all of a sudden struck me that my life is nothing, absolutely nothing, like what I had planned ten years ago when I was in my VERY late, late, late, late, late, late, late teens.

In fact, I’m living a life I would have never chosen. Not in a million years.

If you’d asked me when I was in my VERY late teens where I’d be in ten years, I would have told you who I was going to marry, what I was going to be doing professionally, and there would be no children, not until later on. I’d have money to boot and the perfect car and house and vacations. Although I wouldn’t have thought to mention it then, I’m relatively sure my VERY late teenager self would have expected my VERY late twenties self to shave her legs and brush her teeth everyday with no possible foreseeable exceptions…

If, in my VERY late teens, you’d have offered me a life that revolved around poop, bottles, and doctors’ appointments, I’d have told you no.

If, in my VERY late teens, you’d have offered me a special needs child with a twin who didn’t make it, and a fat little whiny infant who hates play hamsters and kazoos and cries when you look at him cross-eyed… Well, I’d have passed.

If, in my VERY late teens, you’d have offered me a job that pays the bills with little extra, an 8-year-old gas guzzler, and a relationship more complicated than most… I’d have asked for what was behind Door Number 2.

If, in my VERY late teens, you’d have said one day, ten years from now, me and my hairy legs and grown-out-and-turning-gray roots would be pushing a diaper-laden buggy through Wal-Mart and I would sneeze, and then subsequently pee on myself… again… and that it wouldn’t strike me as unusual… I’d have laughed at the pure ridiculousness of it and politely declined…

In fact, I’d have pitied the person who did live that life. I’d have thought that a life less than enviable. Maybe even a second rate life. Most definitely not one I’d choose for myself. I’d have been thankful to know that nothing like that would ever in a million years happen to me…

As I walked on through getting groceries that consisted of generic easy-to-chew-and-swallow foods that adults and toddlers can share and nutrient-packed food items that I don’t really like but I eat whatever the kids have left over, I thought about my life, and who I am today.

You know, my very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY late twenty-ish self…

And I think I have a life that others SHOULD envy. My VERY late teenaged self would have been wrong.

Really, what’s not to love about my life?

It’s truly an amazing thing, the paths we end up taking in life… We see the future like it’s a first-class flight where we buckle in, kick back, and watch an in-flight movie while we cruise where we want to go, when, in fact, it’s a cross-country road trip in a lemon with a broken GPS and a lot of hitch hikers. It’s maddening and frightening and uncomfortable and smelly sometimes, but it’s also delightful and beautiful, and it’s the idiosyncrasies and the detours that make it memorable and fascinating.

But I never really realized that.

But it was my Wal-Mart epiphany.

I think realizing that… that I am living a life I would not change… that my definition of “perfect” is much longer and more detailed than it once was… that happiness is not a direct product of having fun… will help me bridge that transition from my VERY late, late, late, late, late, late, late, late, twenties, to my VERY, very, very, very, very, very early thirties on Saturday.

Here’s hoping that my next ten years are as full of joy and beautiful detours as my last ten have been… and maybe this time around I’ll choose to spend a little less time on the interstate and be able to avoid a few more potholes.

But if I don't, it'll be okay.


Jennifer said...

Love this post! Seriously, you need to write a book.

Only the Sheppards said...

You're so sweet! I plan on it... It's in my 10-year plan ;)