When I was younger, I believed that…
- “telling time” meant knowing what the time was – like, psychically. I thought adults just knew what time it was. I don’t know what I thought all those clocks and watches were for.
- not being able to speak a language (e.g. I can’t speak Spanish) meant that you literally couldn’t make the words come out of your mouth. Learning to speak the language, in my mind, meant learning to make the words come out.
- you couldn’t die while you were inside, because your soul would bump its head on the ceiling on its way to heaven. (It occurs to me that I also apparently believed there was a heaven, and that, should I die, I would go there).
- even though every driver in the world seemed to manage their cars, I would need a car with the driver’s seat in the exact middle of the cab. I think there was one such model in production in the world, and I supposed that I would have to buy it.
- my dad could drive to any city in the continental US without a map or directions of any sort, using only road signs. I didn’t understand how he could talk to us and read all those super-important signs at the same time.
Things I believed about high school when I was in middle school, about college when I was in high school, and about the post-grad working world when I was in college:
- I would be thinner.
- I would have more friends.
- I wouldn’t do or be all the things I didn’t like about myself.
- I would finally be an adult.
- It would be much harder intellectually and much easier socially and emotionally than it actually was.
That first list makes me smile. How magical the world, and the adults in it, seemed when I was little!
The second list is a little angsty, but still amusing. You would think by college that I would have figured out that I've always looked forward to the next period in my life as the one in which I would be transformed, my problems solved. I had discovered that the world wasn't magical, but I still held out hope that time, and its influence on us, was.
Now that I've passed through all the milestones that I had been counting on to turn me into a normal person who has her shit together, and I am not at all a normal person, and my shit is wildly scattered, I know better.
It could be tempting to turn motherhood into that next phase of my life that I look forward to and trust to fix me. I have to be vigilent against thinking like that. The changes I hope for will have to come through effort, not this magical transformative property of time that has yet to pan out.
That's a big responsiblity, but liberating, in a way. I can't sit back and wait for my life to fall into order, but neither will I wake up one morning and find myself an unrecognizable Stepford wife. My life depends on my decisions. How scary. How great.