I left my hometown nearly twenty years ago when I went away to college. I loved the town I grew up in, but until last month, life circumstances had never brought me back. Through a series of circumstances that is too long to recount in this space, my husband and I decided to relocate halfway across the country to my hometown.
I’ve moved quite a bit in my adult life, so moving itself is not all together that new to me. However, moving becomes harder and harder the older I get. Because friendships have deepened and the home I’ve created matters to me. But moving has a way of recalibrating life. It pushes the reset button and every single part of life becomes up for debate. Debate on whether or not I want to take that thing into the next season of life. Both physically and metaphorically.
While I miss my friends more than I could ever articulate in words, change is good for my soul. I like change. I like configuring my furniture in my new home (that is, the furniture my husband didn’t make me give away before moving. Not that I am bitter.) I like driving a new route. And I like taking the time to evaluate how I am spending my days (and therefore, my life).
Moving back to the place where I spent my childhood is particularly interesting because so many things trigger memories of experiences I had when I was my kids’ ages. And replaying the life montage in my mind has majorly put my own life into perspective.
For one, it feels like I just left home a week ago to nervously move away to college…except it’s been almost two decades and I am returning with five amazing people, four of whom did not even exist back in that time. Which means I will blink and my first born will be nervously moving out for his first time.
I have cried too many tears this year to move you to tears about young children going to college tomorrow when “tomorrow” is many, many days away, so I will not camp out in that devastating reality. (I am not at all dramatic.)
But I will say that this recalibration has given me the vision of what I want my life to look like for the next 2,700 approximate days I have until my first born leaves for college. I spent a lot of time packing and driving, so you will have to forgive me for the time I had to calculate his departure.
Sure, I want to take fun vacations. And enjoy magical Christmases. And eat decadent meals.
But, mostly, I want to remind myself that the most magical parts of life are found in the most ordinary moments.
Returning home means I get to spend more time with family, and recently, my brothers and I were laughing about this psychologically torturous game we used to play called Run Down. The game was torture because my two older brothers, unbeknownst to me, would constantly change the rules as to never let me win. Which my stupidly competitive self never realized until adulthood.
We laughed until we cried (well, I cried) about how many hours we played this game. And how mad I would get that I could never seem to win.
During those years of playing Run Down, we also vacationed to some really cool places and got some really cool presents. And while those are fond memories, they can’t compare to the hilarity of Run Down. Or the times we lowered our brother down the laundry chute in a bed sheet. Or when my sister and I would use every ingredient we could find to bake a cake (because we did not understand the importance of a little thing called a “recipe”).
As parents today, we get so obsessed with trying to live some huge epic life and creating mountaintop moments that it’s easy to forget to kids are super easy to please. And 100% of the time, they would prefer a mom who is less stressed over a life of constant entertainment (or a life of constant guilt for not providing entertainment).
Teaching your kids how to make your family’s favorite chocolate chip cookies…letting them be bored enough to make up a fun game…making your boys clean the toilets (because you want your future daughter-in-laws to love you)…showing your daughter how to wear make-up (but not well enough to spare her from the fugly middle school years that are a necessary rite of passage for every adolescent girl)…putting away laundry instead of playing a game (because adulthood)…playing the game and forgoing dishes (because life is too short and adulthood is overrated)…
It’s these ordinary moments that actually matter.
I confess that over the past year or four, I had become quite annoyed with my ordinary life. The cleaning never ends. And my kids don’t seem to appreciate my value as their mom. I have dreamed of a glamorous life where compliments flow freely and someone cleans up the messes and the calories in cupcakes don’t count.
But as I return to the place where I lived the most ordinary days of my life, I am reminded in the beauty and perfection of the every day. The very daily moments of life actually culminated into the most amazing childhood.
It is true that life is but a blink. And I do not want to waste a moment wishing it could be anything different than what it is. Because when I stop trying to make it oh so amazing, I remember it’s been amazing all along. In the most ordinary ways.
When I was in bed sick last week, my daughter brought my favorite snack to my room with a note that said, “I love you.” The compassion in her heart and being truly known by the girl who matters most to me proved that an ordinary life paradoxically creates the most extraordinary children.