The Race to the Horizon

I've known a few people in my life who have a wonderful ability to live in the NOW. They don't fret or wallow or even baske in their past too much, and they don't fret or daydream or live for the future too much either. As a result, their past and their future are almost completely pleasant, because they live in this moment, the one that is happening - taking in the joy or the pain or the frustration or the hope for what it is, feeling it, and being ready for the next moment and whatever it brings.

I've always wanted to be more like that. In large part, my children are helping me, because to a preschooler, NOW is pretty much all there is. And boy, do they know how to drink it up! Every flower, every toy, every new discovery, is the most exciting thing and they must revel in it and enjoy it and take it as it comes, because they have no concept of when it will come again.

Plus, their little legs can't run as fast as mine, and thankfully, they haven't taken on that pesky adult driven-ness that plagues so many of us. So, I'm learning to slow my pace and forget the to-do's - they'll still be there to do tomorrow.

It reminds me of a time when I traveled to Malta with Auntie S, her husband, and their 9-month-old. They were going for a business quota club trip and asked me along to tend the baby when they had adult-only things to go to.

(Auntie S had left a baby once before for one of these trips, and although he was in terrific hands the whole time, S was physically ill over it. In Paris. So I got to go to Malta to keep her baby and her health in tact. I know, rough.)

Immediately at the airport, S and her husband had to leave to meet up with the group and I was to take the baby to the hotel and check in. They were in a hurry, the flight had been a little late, so they rushed off after hooking me up with a cab driver, and I was caught up in the rush and took off with the stroller, supposedly following the driver to his car.

I was rushing so much that I was not even aware that at one point I ran the stroller into his heels and then even passed him in my haste to get where we were going...It was when I passed him on the way to the car, that he chuckled, "Whooooooaaaa, there! In Malta, we walk."

He said it in such a way that I immediately slowed my pace and stopped driving the stroller like a madwoman. I made a point to walk the rest of the week we were there. I don't think I have ever had a more relaxing and beautiful holiday ever. I dream of going back again - Malta is one of the most phenomenal places on earth, I think. Especially if you slow down to see it.

I think of that often and sometimes tell myself that I need to walk. Take it in, breathe...That I'm getting where I'm going to, and who am I trying to beat to the imaginary finish line, anyway? Walk! Enjoy! Malta, preschoolers, pregnancy, life, this minute...they're what life is about right now, and fast isn't always the way to go...

I've been telling myself to walk a lot lately, to not wish things away or get exasperated. There are just lots of things on our family horizon that keep me speeding ahead like a crazy woman, even though I know my thoughts and obsessing will never make them come sooner, and I'm compromising my NOW with a lot of fretting and thinking and dreaming and flat impatience.

Don't get me wrong, I believe it's a good thing at least once in a while to have a carrot dangling in front of one's nose, to keep a person going forward. Sometimes, future planning and time just get the best of me.

In the next six weeks (give or take), we will have our third little boy...Labor and delivery is boggling my mind more than it has either time before, and I'm pretty much a basket case just thinking about the days of infanthood to come.

In those same six weeks, David will apply, interview, and find out about overseas positions, where our family will go next year. And while we know it will likely be a former Soviet state (he and I both speak Russian), the decision process between cities and our first huge move as a family, halfway around the world, is a really big deal.

I enrolled Calvin and Henry in preschool for the fall. A huge chunk of change for tuition. Cal will go five mornings a week, and will see his favorite friend/cousin Lily almost every day, since it is her school, too. I know it will be tremendously good for him - he just struggles with change and unfamiliarity so much that I've been stressed about the first week or two of school and all that it will entail. Yeah, I know. It's months away.

Henry will be going just two mornings a week. Mostly because he has been so excited with our home preschool and wants to join in and can talk as well as some of the four -year-olds in the class anyway. Plus, I wanted him to feel big and special as we have a new baby in the house. But it also means that potty training has to happen before the end of August. And he is SO not interested.

I am also going back to school to finish my Master's degree in the fall. David is totally behind me, which really is beautiful and so desirable in a husband, and Auntie S is insisting on keeping the boys the one day a week that I have to travel to class, and if I don't go this year, I lose the credits from the first year that I already did.

I want to do it, I think I can, I'm just more than a little scared because the first year I did pregnant with Cal the first semester (he was born the week my final paper was due...) and postpartum to the max the second semester. And if I'm going to do it, I want to do it well and really get the most out of the class discussions by doing all my reading and contributing my own thoughts.

The program is reading the Great Works of Western Civilization, which is totally thrilling to me, but it is not easy reading, to say the least. The way is totally open for me to do it, I'm just scaring myself about being able to actually do it. Not sure I have much of a brain left.

And I have a smidgeon of guilt that a Master's of Liberal Arts is not a career-track, "useful" degree - it's almost totally something I am doing out of love of reading and personal growth, which makes me feel selfish spending time and energy away from my family and not pursuing things that would benefit more than just me.

So those are a few of the things that, at least in my mind, that we're racing toward in the next few months. Sometimes I overwhelm myself with the race - all the hurdles, all the fellow runners who seem to be getting there faster or better than me, the sheer distance of the track I have to run, my stamina (or lack thereof).

So here I go again...Stretch a little...Breathe...Walk...The horizon will still be there tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I'm so excited that you're going back to finish your master's. Congratulations! Good luck with everything else too. That's a lot of big changes coming up. I hope that everything works out well for you guys.

Unknown said...

Oh it all sounds really great. You are right to enjoy the moment.

I am potty training my 35 month old right now, and it's actually going okay. I'm taking baby steps, wearing pull ups when we're out all day and braving underwear other times. It's not perfect, but we are making progress. I am remarkably calm about it (although I was stressed about how it wasn't "working right" when I tried it a couple of months ago). Y'all will do it.

And be glad that when you go to Russia you can take all of us with you!

Anonymous said...

WOW seems like just the other day I was where you are RIGHT now. The planning, the largeness, the fears etc. I will be sending you some love....keep bloggin it all out:)
Masters!!! WOW you are my hero!

The Amazing Trips said...

Kudos to you for following your passion and going back to school. To me, the greatest accomplishment was obtaining a masters, not so much what it was in!

Everything that you've written, it's all true! Take it one moment at a time - and do your best to savor that moment,l because it all passes so very quickly. You will get through everything that you are facing: the L&D, the potty training, the preschool, the move.

The question I am always asking myself, is - do I want to enjoy the journey ... or be overwhelmed by taking it all in at once?!

Barb said...

This post left me breathless. My word, you have a LOT going on. But every last thing you talked about here sounds exciting. OK, maybe not the potty training, but everything else. :-)

I love the lesson in this. Slow down. In your case, you'll drop from exhaustion if you don't slow down. You are busy! And pregnant!

Ice Cream said...

I love your thoughts on slowing down. I'm a "Get there" kind of girl. Not only do I forget to smell the roses but I usually mow them over. If it weren't for kids pulling on me to slow me down i'd miss most of it. Thanks for sharing and good luck in all you are endevoring. =)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Don't fret, don't feel guilty and don't fear. The Lord will guide you down the path you are supposed to go. And while on the journey, enjoy the now and don't always dream of the end. Thanks for the reminder.