Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Recurring Theme

There are times, as you go through life, when you look back and think: Gosh, I wish I hadn’t done such-and-such. At the time you may have thought nothing of it; you may have even sincerely believed you were doing the right thing. But given a little time and perspective, you realize that you were wrong, that you would go back and change it if you could. (Sad to say, I’ve had plenty of these.)

And then there are times, as you go through life, when you wake up in the morning, take a fresh look at what you’re doing and think: If I continue in this direction, I’m not going to like where I end up -- I’ll regret this. So you do what it takes to make changes according to what you know in your heart you’ll look back on and be glad about. You feel lighter, freer for the change and buoyed by a renewed sense of purpose.

This is where I’ve been the last week. And so: I changed my mind about Sophie going to preschool.

Our church has a great ministry to the children in our community. The preschool is wonderful. The teachers are capable and kind, and Sophie seemed to love it. I just realized I’m not ready to be apart from her two mornings a week.

I was getting to the gym those mornings, and that was a good thing. But I wasn’t home, and I wasn’t with Sophie. I found myself overly, unnecessarily busy, distracted by the pressure of where-we-need-to-be-when. I felt overwhelmed and stressed by things that normally don’t make me feel that way. It was horrible.

I’m happy to say that I feel a lot better now! Not quite as fit, perhaps, but better in every other way. My mum friends have noticed the difference, and my kids have, too.

* * * *

A couple weeks ago I had the chance to see one of my former Rift Valley Academy students who lives here in the UK. Spending the afternoon with her, and watching our daughters play together, was like tonic for my soul -- sweet and strong. On the way home and for several days afterward, I was caught up in memories of my years at RVA. Two thoughts kept coming back to me:

First of all, it doesn’t seem possible that sixteen years have passed since this breathtakingly beautiful young woman was a tiny, bespectacled girl standing beside my desk, defending her spelling of favor as favour, initiating me into the phenomenon of American vs. English language, culture, worldview -- so similar and yet so different. (It’s amazing how much my mindset has changed since that first year at RVA.) (And wow, sixteen years? I must be a lot older than I feel.)

Secondly, I wish I’d spent more one-on-one time with her, and with the other girls in the Class of ’99, when we were together on a daily basis. At the time, I was trying to balance teaching with all the other things that are inherent in serving at a boarding school. In retrospect, though, my official responsibilities don’t seem quite as important as they felt back then. Not that I shouldn’t have been prepared for class each day or able to read, remark on and hand back essays within a reasonable time of being written. But knowing now what life has held for many of these girls in the nine years since graduation, I wish I’d spent more time nurturing them individually, taking advantage of being in the same place at the same time. (Mind you, they’re all strong, capable women. They’re doing fine, and they don’t really need me. It’s just my mother’s heart for them coming through.)

Since that afternoon a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about the carpe diem concept: Seize the day. Time flies, so make the most of now. This too shall pass.

* * * *

While we were in Michigan this summer, my mom, my mother-in-law and I went out for a day’s shopping. (Woo-hoo! Besides our families, of course, shopping is what I miss the most about America.) We were in a department store, among the sales racks in the women’s section, and I said I wanted to see what I could find for Sophie. So I turned the corner and found that, in order to get to the toddlers’ clothes, I had to go through infants’. And I nearly burst into tears to realize that we don’t shop there anymore.

Here in England this is called feeling broody. No, we’re not planning on having more children -- we got started too late for that -- but I’m really missing the days when my kids were babies. Each stage of their lives has been magical, and I have no doubt they will continue to be. But this season seems to be over too soon. I don’t feel ready for it.

A friend once passed along to me a bit of wisdom she had received about being the mother of young children: The years go fast and the days so slow.

Donna, you were right.


Anonymous said...

Ref. "A Recurring Theme" - Good for you Laura! Enjoy that baby girl and you guys can join a "yoga for moms" class or something! Maybe get a DVD and do it at home! She will be serious and think it is funny at the same time!Especially if you guys try to headstand thing - very good for balance and circulation! Loving your posts! Grace and Peace to you guys! xo Oink in NC

letha said...

I love your blog! And if I haven't mentioned it enough your babies are adorable! Love you so much and know that you always made me feel special in high school - wish we could all get back together again for coffee and see how changed we all are, but until then I am using the mug you gave me at graduation at this very moment. Know that you have influenced me greatly and all for the good.

Anonymous said...

You were an essential part of our growing years at RVA!!! Someone we trusted and needed. You are always special to us and never far from our thoughts or conversations. I'm sure we never said it enough then...but THANK YOU!!!!! Your influence in our lives still stays with us today in ways you may never know!! you are still needed!!! We often think and ask each other....what would miss berge say?:).....

by Heather A. said...

I forgot to sign my name:)
love you