What usually seems like just yesterday (but sometimes feels like so long ago), I was a young, single mother raising two beautiful daughters. We were—by the standards we in North America judge wealth—poor. I didn’t make a lot of money. I was putting myself through college at night. We didn’t take fabulous vacations; actually we really didn’t take vacations. We lived in a little cape cod. We rarely went “out” for dinner; we ate a fair amount of pasta because it was inexpensive (and fish sticks, if you’d ask my girls). We didn’t buy a lot of clothing or expensive toys. We didn’t have a lot.
You know what we did have? We had us. We had love; lots of love. The girls and I did homework together at the kitchen counter. The house was often filled with the joy of more than just the voices of my two precious children. They hosted sleepovers for their friends (lots of sleepovers). There were kids in our home all the time. We had “a hideout” in the backyard, where hours were spent in nature. We had Christmas Eve “concerts” with a birthday cake for Baby Jesus every year. We sat out on our little deck—the one not far from our little, above-ground pool, where the girls spent hours putting on “shows” for me. We had my parents—who were thrilled to be grandparents— actively involved in our lives. We did projects together. We had parties in the back yard. We sang silly songs. We danced. We laughed. We lived in the moment.
Of course, there were challenges. Of course, life wasn’t always easy. Of course, we were human.
I have the distinct honor of watching my now grown daughters live their adult lives. Sara and Erin are both accomplished, loving, generous, intelligent women. As the saying goes, “they would make any mother proud.” When each of my girls turned 30, I made The First Thirty Years of Your Life books for them. I went through my “save box” and created gifts made from memories, photos, thoughts, reflections and, love. The last one I made was over five years ago, but I still remember the emotion of sifting through all those years.
A decade ago—more than halfway through this life—I became a grandmother and was given the absolute privilege and joy of being part of the next generation of life. Another door opened for me–and I ran through, embracing the amazing gifts I’m now given by being part of my grandchildren’s lives.
I’m aware, continually, of the fleeting nature of time. We often get caught up in the stuff of this world and lose sight of what’s truly important. After sleeping, working, surfing online, watching TV, cooking, eating, commuting, cleaning, and showering, how do we spend our remaining time? How do we use the days of our lives? Each moment is priceless and transitory—we don’t get it back—we don’t get “do-overs”.
How do we create lives filled with joy?
How do you define joy?
Where do you find comfort?
What’s most important to you?
How do you spell peace?
For many years, for me, it was a small cape cod with three little bedrooms, a wooded back yard, a Mom with two, beloved daughters and an adventure of love. How blessed is that?
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p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #51. Apologize when you need to; saying “I’m sorry”, and meaning it, opens so many doors.
p.p.s. Most of this story was originally posted in 2013. Today, it just felt “timely” again. K