That is the question I asked six women recently from age Twenty to Seventy.
Before I get to their answers, my plan is to do this every month, a new question, new answers, a glimpse of the future, a reminder of the past. I hope it will help us, Perhaps it will steer us to make better choices in the future, maybe it will remind us of what used to be and help us be thankful for what is now.
Different women will answer the questions every month to give us different perspectives and keep their identity’s anonymous.
It’s going to be a WILD ride with this group of women who have been gracious enough to answer with honesty and courage. Some answers are lengthy, some very short, some are very serious ,some will make you howl with laughter , some will take your breath away and make you weep. I did not steer their answers or edit them , they are untouched, unfiltered and raw. I have picked women I respect with every fiber of my being to participate in this:They are survivor’s and warrior’s of their own lives.
They are my Steel Magnolia’s.
October 2016 – The First Question
Name something you used to have in your life, that you miss now.
I imagine that the thing, or things rather that I used to have in my life, that I miss now are things or a lifestyle of the past if I may, that all parents can relate to, at least until your child reaches that magical age where they are self-sufficient and can accomplish tasks like making a meal and doing laundry on their own. And perhaps you are a parent who still has your 32-year-old offspring living in your basement and unfortunately they are still incapable of doing those said tasks on their own, and to you I say I am very sorry to hear that, I wish you the best! But for all the newer parents, the moms and dads of the baby, the toddler, or the elementary school child, most of us are still in an ever-changing transition period between life as a 21-year-old college kid drunk on a carefree life of leisure and a job we don’t intend to keep for long and being a 29-year-old parent working full-time with a full time spouse and full time kids and full time house payments and full time grocery lists. The early years of parenthood can be really hard, really challenging, really eye-opening, and the sacrifices you have to make may at first seem impossible and downright shitty, but eventually we realize it is all worth it. Every night we choose to stay in and watch Disney instead of go to the bar. The weekend we choose to go pumpkin picking with the family instead of fishing with the boys. Your perspective changes. Your mind changes. You love new things. You see joy through the eyes of someone 2 feet tall and suddenly the neon lights at 2am don’t seem all that great anymore.
Being the mother of a young child has definitely taken a toll on my social life and most definitely my free time or “alone time” is a phrase often used to describe what parents are missing. Every parent’s time is taken up by a multitude of things, and depending on your child’s age and activities you can expect that the things you used to do, that once made you who you are and things you considered fun will be replaced by new things that define you, and will hopefully bring you new kinds of joy and excitement. My weekends that were once filled with staying out til bar close, laughing and joking with friends til the wee hours of the morning, sleeping in til noon, and lounging freely all day are now filled with the laughter of a tiny human, reading the same books over and over again, soaking spaghetti stained clothes in oxiclean, cleaning up Cheerios from every nook and cranny of the couch, and trying to keep tiny tot from destroying my home. And although my new role as Mom is one of the most rewarding and amazing experiences I have ever come to know, I still miss things that I used to love. I miss things I used to do, people I used to see, and places I used to go. I miss not having to worry constantly about the health, happiness, hunger, and well-being of a baby. I miss drinking wine with friends and cracking beers on pontoons for days on end over a holiday weekend where I only had to pack one bag of clothes and some chips haha. I miss being able to hold an adult conversation with a friend and not be keeping one eye, one ear, and a hand in reach of a child. I miss spending money senselessly on random crap at Target and Homegoods where I could spend hours and not feel guilty about it. I miss only making dinner for 2, and eating that dinner while it is hot and eating it whenever we felt like it, like I believe 11pm is an acceptable time for adults to eat dinner if they do so choose haha. I miss spending an hour on my hair and makeup without fighting someone tossing tiny bits of TP into the toilet. I miss having my own personal space and bubble without being touched and hung on all day. Sometimes I wish that nobody relied on me for anything and I could just go, and do, and be whatever whenever and then come home and sleep for 15 hours for fun. I miss being invited out for things (a dinner, a happy hour, a shopping day), I assume that my friends assume that since I have a child I am not fun, or that I don’t have time, or that I just simply can’t go anywhere. I miss being able to do things spontaneously, without having to worry about a nap time, or a skipped meal, or packing a diaper bag and booster seat and extra clothes and a sippy cup of water and toys to keep tot occupied and 400 other things. There are days I just want to turn off my Mom brain for a little bit and feel what it is like to just be free of stress and worry, close all the tabs on my brain’s browser and see where it goes from there. I miss being the only object of my spouse’s attention, the way he used to look at me, the way we used to be together and talk and cuddle. I miss laying on the couch for an entire night watching shows with him. I miss date nights with my dear husband and being able to sit down and actually talk to him without getting interrupted or being so tired that sleep sounds better. There are so many things that have changed that on a good day I don’t care about all that much, but on a bad day I’m really angry and frustrated that I can’t have back.
I love my new role as a parent and I would not trade it for anything in the world. I am adjusting slowly but surely to the way life is changing all around me. I accept that things will never be the way they were before and I’m learning to love the new me! I do have my moments where I miss the old ways, the old me, the care free life I used to live, but when I look into the eyes of my little baby and hear the laughter and see the smiles, and watch the excitement of learning new things and exploring the world, I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. Doing exactly what I am meant to do.
My time will come when I will look back on these tough times, these days of toddlerhood where I am so overwhelmed by all the things I have to do and all the things I can’t go do and wishing that I could just have a free moment to even think for myself, there will be a day I want this back. When I’m home alone, with my dear husband, empty nest, kids away at college, busy with their own lives, kids married with their own babies – now as busy as I am, all consumed with life as parents – I’ll wish I had my own babies back. I’ll wish I could hold them and make them dinner and wash their little socks and onesies. I’ll wish I could wipe their little noses and kiss their booboos. I’ll wonder why I complained about sleepless nights or the toddler that only wants to be held and cuddled and sit on my lap all day. The hard things will become the things that I miss. It is hard to see things in that way now, but I try. I stay positive. I hug my child. I kiss my husband, knowing that one day we’ll be back to where we once were. That one day we will be able to focus on us again and although we both know and value our love and relationship, fully aware of how important it is that we make time for ourselves and our marriage, there are days now where it slips our minds. It makes me sad, it makes me cry, it makes me angry and feel like I am not doing a good job at wifeing, but we will fix it. This I know. Because I know that eventually things in our busy life will settle down, and we will be able to be fun parents hanging out with our friends again. We will be able to stay up late and have a few beers, we will be able to go away for the weekend and not worry that a perfectly good nap schedule is going to be completely destroyed. We will have an easier time leaving the kids with a sitter and going out to dinner or a movie. Those days will return, and some of the things that I miss now will be back in my life. But until then, we will watch our babies grow. Watch them learn and love and find new ways to enjoy the beautiful life we have created. The best is yet to come.
I miss being immune to all the awful crap the world has to offer. I liked being so sheltered from all the bad stuff. Now, I feel like I worry too much about the worst case scenario. I also miss the ability to drink without being hung over for an average of about 48 hours. Alcohol and I used to have a mutual respect for each other, but now she’s just a huge douche-canoe that likes to punish me for for having even a couple of cocktails. Along with that, I also miss having a fast metabolism. That donut I just ate? It went straight to my ass and made me gain 10lbs. Why can’t I just eat an entire bag of cool ranch Doritos and not have to go up 5 pant sizes?
The shallow answer:
My birthstone necklace that my Mom gave me for my 40th birthday that was stolen.
The deep answer:
My security. I miss a time when I didn’t worry about everything. When life was moderately carefree.
I felt secure before my Dad died. Before he died I didn’t think about death. I didn’t worry about growing old and losing my spouse because hell, we were all going to live forever. Only “old” people died and I figured that I would deal with that reality much, much later. The thought of being alone never crossed my mind. Until I watched my Mom have to face it.
I felt secure before 9/11 and terrorism. I used to travel to some pretty incredible places. I was fortunate to have a friend who loved to travel too and was in the “business” so we could do it on the cheap. I never considered that I could be overseas visiting a historical place, walking down a street or having a pint in a pub and that I might be a target just because of my nationality. Now when I travel, I am always aware of my surroundings. It dims some of the excitement of seeing new places.
I felt secure before we faced financial ruin. After losing our business and almost my home, I don’t know that there will ever be enough money in my savings account to make me not worry. Finances literally make my chest hurt. I can’t tell you how many nights I laid in bed worrying. Which of course makes me want to stick my head in the sand and ignore things. Which makes me worry even more. Viscous circle you say? Why yes, yes it is.
I miss having tight skin around the outside of my vagina.
Nooooo one ever told me that Gravity is a mean bitch!
I miss my dog, but worse than that I still hold on to the guilt that I could have done more to save him, I was making bad choices in my life back then, and that particular night I was out with that bad choice, I still wonder to this day- had I been true to myself and been at home would I have had been able to save him?
I miss my health, when you lose your health you lose everything, and I have lost much with it. A job I loved, The condo I lived in and owned for twenty three years. I miss the security of my life before those losses.
I miss a time before death took the ones I loved and certainly a time before it took an infant from our family, that is the most tragic loss in life and impossible for everyone affected to move on from .
I will tell you this, Life is a series of beautiful rainbows and ugly , sometimes tragic detours. The road we are given to take has to be walked, whatever our circumstances are. I have been mightily blessed and often not- It’s everyone’s story, everyone’s path . When I was young I often wished I had a crystal ball so I could see into my future, now I thank heaven I didn’t.
What is to come, will come, we all must live in the present and follow our path to the end, we owe it to the generations before us and all that will follow.
I will end this with something one of these women said that had a profound affect on me and I think sums up exactly why I want to do this every month.
“I’ve just now starting to talk about things in my life that I have pushed so deep inside. It’s freeing to know someone else has been on the same journey…I was always afraid of judgement.. guess what…we are all human .“
*****WHAT DO YOU MISS?*****