I used to paint. I painted elaborate designs on cute denim overalls for kids. I painted detailed wooden purses, including tiny wooden beads for the handles. I used to watercolor paint. And sketch and draw pictures. And I used to take art classes.
I used to dance. I took every dance class at the junior college, performing in their annual stage production. I took ballet, pointe, stretching, jazz, tap, modern, I took it all. I probably danced in classes 20 hours a week. And then I’d go out at night with my friends and dance in the clubs.
I used to go out with friends. As long as someone called me before 10:30 pm, I was game to hang-out, whether it be clubbing, bonfires at the beach, drinks and nachos or even just watching TV at a friend’s house. I’d stay out till 3 am and still get up at 6 am for class the next day.
I used to stay up late and get up early. Well, to be honest, I still do that but the intention is different now. I get the early wake up call either by the baby or by my alarm clock. And I stay up late because after everyone else is in bed, the wee hours are the only time I have to myself.
I Used To
There’s are emotions in me to feel sad and reminiscent about my “former life”. To daydream about when I used to have boundless energy. To wish for the days when I used to have endless amounts of time for family, friends and just to hang out. To look back fondly on when I used to be able to do whatever I wanted without having to worry about repercussions of missed naps, excess weight from late night snacks, or an overabundance of wrinkles because I went to bed with my make-up on.
It’s far too easy to slip down that rabbit hole. To call up those fond feelings and and reflections of youth. Now, let me be clear, I’m not afraid of aging. With age comes wisdom and a few gray hairs and wrinkles don’t scare me. But the “I used to” has been getting under my skin lately. I feel like all the things that I love to do are stifled in the curse of time.
The Real Me
I truly feel that I’ve had to put the REAL ME on the back burner for so many years. I think there are a lot of people in my life who don’t even know the real, creative me because I haven’t done the things I love in so long! The real me that likes going to parties (and I don’t mean dropping my kid off at yet-another classmate’s house). The real me that likes spending hours behind the sewing machine creating something fabulous (and I don’t mean the forced construction like “The hem of my pants needs to be taken up, honey”). The real me that would love to pick out a half dozen packages of candy and park at the drive-in to watch movies all night.
The real me that doesn’t want to have to worry about whether diapers need to be changed, if it’s time for the boy to get another haircut or if the sheets need to be washed. The real me doesn’t want to be jumping out of bed when she realizes the dishwasher didn’t get started. The real me just wants to be on vacation, sleeping in a comfy hotel bed with a full night of uninterrupted rest and a day of adventure ahead. Don’t we all?
As the mom of teenagers, I’m all too aware of how quickly the time slips by. “What the hell, where’d my baby go?”, I think to myself when my teenager stands next to me and he’s now several inches taller. Even with the baby, as she’s gaining more independence I realize that babies don’t stay helpless for very long. She’s feeding herself with a fork, chattering to herself as she climbs into a chair with a book and requests from me a snack. This is just a season, I remind myself. Seasons come. Seasons go. The things I used to do will return. Or maybe not.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What If This Moment IS the Real Me?
In my lost-ness of losing out on the things I used to do, I’m brought back to the feeling of, “What if THIS is really it?” What if making sure that the kindergartner is wearing underpants before he goes to school is really what I’m meant to be doing right now? Perhaps the real me should accept the blessings that I’m currently supposed to be meal planning, folding laundry and complying to multiple snack requests.
Should I be agonizing over missed opportunities because I have to be home by 8 pm to rock and nurse the baby to sleep? I have a new awareness after praying about it with this verse that this IS my season. Sitting in a dark room at 3 am with a teething fussy little one is my current calling. The time will pass, just like seasons do. It’s in turning my perspective a little. I’m not denying the real me at all by not doing what I used to do. I’m expanding, stretching and delighting in what I GET to do NOW!
There are certainly some things I used to do that I have no desire to revisit. I don’t even need to rehash them, but “I used to” do plenty of things I’ll never do again. And the things I’m doing now will soon be things “I used to” do.
In a few months, I’ll say, “I used to nurse my baby but now she’s weaned”. And in a few years, I’ll say, “I used to read her a bedtime story, but now she’s reading to me!” And in a decade, I’ll say, “I used to get so tense with the chaos of four kids in the house, but now that the older two have moved out, I sort of miss the craziness”.
Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll love the extra time that change brings. Maybe I’ll return back to the the things I used to do. Or maybe I’ll find new things to learn and all of what I’ve been yearning for will truly just be things I used to do.
And as I answered the nap time cries of my toddler literally four times while trying to complete this post, I sat, un-rushed with her in my arms. I brushed my lips across her cheek in a comforting kiss. Ran my fingers through her tangled curls. Held her until she relaxed. This is the real me. This is my season. And soon, it will only be something I used to do.