The In-Between

Malheur Bière Brut

It’s the week between Christmas and New Years, a strange time. You are not yet finished with 2011 and you can’t wait to say good-bye but New Year’s Eve is not in sight just quite yet. It’s always been a long week for me. In our town, it’s nice and quiet, people go away for the holidays; the town has lots of parking, the streets are empty; it’s a quiet, gentler period of time. Personally, it’s a struggle. I remember the last Christmas we had with my dad many years ago, when he went into the hospital and how he died on New Year’s Eve, a day before my parents’ wedding anniversary. It’s not a memory that will ever fade in emotion or intensity.

For many years now I’ve tried to say goodbye to the old year, hoping, wishing, EXPECTING the New Year to be better. Not any more. As I’ve gotten older it just seems to be a pattern that happens every year. There are NO long bouts of happiness, there may not be long bouts of depression, but there are problems, pretty much, all the time. When you have a day that is problem free, celebrate.

A lesson for us who are no longer young, but older middle-aged ( I refuse to say OLD) is that we need to accept that our lives have changed permanently. I talk about this with my friends. For some of us it’s being in the sandwich generation, having children and parents (or parent in my case) needing, deserving more attention and care. It’s scary every direction we look. We are responsible for our own children, now independent teenagers and our parents who are no longer as independent as they once were.

How can we look forward when we have no control over our lives? If I had to list the one thing that worries me most it would be the unknown, how life can change drastically in one second, for the worse. We have no control over anything, and the only way I can deal with that is not to deal with it at all. You have to try to live your life to the fullest every day, be thankful when there is a good day, ride the waves, bend with the wind. I don’t like the feeling of uncertainty and I know many others don’t either; we have no choice. We must try hard not to focus on it, remain engaged in things and people we love. Stay in the moment. Every moment.

So lift a glass of champagne or orange juice, chocolate milk or wine, for the good times, the ones we should treasure and try to remember. It’s the only way to get by.  To the Best 2012 that’s possible. Cheers!

Hey Ba, I Think It’s Now

a bird nest

Image via Wikipedia

I’m beginning to think that”these days may just BE the good old days” and I want to stop and appreciate them as much as I can. I want to  savor my children’s laughter, energy, and yes, even fighting. I want to enjoy family dinners served with a sauté of sarcasm and lumpy cheese sauce with laughter. I’m not saying that things are great but they are definitely good enough and  that’s just fine. My husband is still unemployed and our kids are just about to skip from home to college and I will be living in my own new reality, as an “empty-nester” which is both incredibly sad and exciting.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend Barbara and I would alternate saying “Laur, when is it gonna get better?”or “Hey Ba, when is it going to get better?” I don’t even remember now what was so bad back then. We asked each other this as we were selecting French pastries from a small patisserie: the fruit tart or the chocolate mousse? Two Libra girls in an enchanting bakery meant only one thing: both. Now, thirty years later, back then seemed like it WAS better but it was just different. “Youth” is wasted on the young” my mother used to mutter. We laughed and knew she didn’t know what she was talking about. We have all said the exact, same thing to our children as they look back at us and roll their eyes. How can we expect them to understand what no other generation ever did before?

Rereading the book Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg is helping to keep me in the present. It’s a book about a woman dying of cancer and her loving friends. It makes you stop and think about your life. For me, these are the good old times. Are we silly enough to think that things will get easier as we get older? They don’t. I prescribe reading Ms. Berg’s book surrounded by tissues and as Oprah would say “a-ha” moments.

Now, while we still have our two children home, at least for a few more months I am relishing my time with them. I want to freeze these days like photographs on our mantel. My son, my first born, a Senior, is always running out the door, his black and orange sneakers barely trailing him. He has about four and a half months before he leaves home  for the summer to be a Counselor at the camp he attended for many years. Camp is my son’s other home; it is a magical place that helped shape him as a person. My first-born,  has the same temperament as I do; we understand each other with a casual glance. He’s waiting to hear from colleges in the near future. As much as I try to spend time in the present, I miss him already.

My daughter, a Junior in High School came home from “College Night”  and sounded like a newly opened bottle of soda; her enthusiasm and excitement was contagious.  “I want to go to college tomorrow, Mom” she chirped.  I will have a whole year with just her where she doesn’t have to share the limelight with her older brother. I am not even ready to think about what life will be like when she goes off to college. This beautiful young woman will always be my baby.

I would like the world to stand still so I can try and burn memories in my heart. My nine year old dog is sleeping at the foot of my bed. The children laugh, fight, shout and antagonize each other yet their love for each other is incredibly obvious. I know my husband will find a job eventually and I just want to hold on to this feeling of our family; for as long as I possibly can. Here is my life lesson: cherish each moment; it’s as simple as that.