For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Letter to Me

The young girl in the mirror is me, roughly 30 years ago.  I had graduated from college and was living in New Britain, CT in my first apartment.  My job at Travelers Insurance as a computer programmer allowed me to meet my future husband, although we had just begun dating at the time.

It occurs to me now that I am now about the same age that my mother would have been back then.

If I could write a letter to the young girl in the mirror,  this is what I'd say.

Dearest Gayle,

I look at you and see myself.  We are both happy with our lives and optimistic about our futures.  We both have fears and uncertainties, but choose to see the cup as half-full (more like 3/4 full).  That never changes.  My camera is still one of most valued possessions.  It urges me to focus on all that is beautiful in the world.  Never put it down.

I hesitate to give advice to you because it might change the person I am today.  But chances are, you might not listen anyways.  You are at the age where you think you know so much already! I've learned that life is the ultimate teacher.  Take what I tell you and store it away.  Maybe some of it will help someday.

The guy that took that smiling picture of you will be your husband in a few years.  You both love children and will want to start a family soon after you are married.  This will be one of the most difficult times in your life.  It will teach you patience and will test your optimism.  In fact, it will the only time in your life that you see the cup approaching empty.  Watching everyone around you having babies will hurt very deeply.  A pregnancy lasting only 3 months will bring despair.  However, your monthly roller-coaster ride will end 6 years later with the birth of a beautiful baby boy. Two precious girls will follow to round out your family.   Those long years of waiting were not wasted.  You now have the means and heart to enjoy being a stay-at-home mom.   These years will be very trying but the most rewarding and wonderful years of your life.  They will be your greatest gift.

Mom will become one of your closest friends.  I couldn't even begin to count the number of hours you will spend on the phone with her as you are home with your children.  She will be there to answer questions, but more importantly you will laugh together as you share the little everyday happenings of a young mom.  Your children will love her.

Just as Mom will be your friend,  Dad will always be your greatest source of inspiration.  There will not be a problem he can't help you fix.  You will always see him as your pillar of strength.  He will cherish Mom and see her through her final days.  Then he will need you to keep him going during his darkest time after she is gone.  The man you envisioned living forever, sadly, will not.  Being with him in his struggle to survive and gain back his strength will inspire you more than anything else in life.

When I was your age,  I never doubted that my relationships with my brother and sisters would remain a constant in my life.  But another life lesson is that nothing remains the same.  Change is the only constant.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try,  you have to accept things for what there are and be at peace with yourself.

One of your sisters needs you more than you could ever know.  Instead of wondering, respecting her privacy, and waiting for her to open up to you,  this is when you need to trust what your heart is telling you.

Marriage is not without its ups and downs.  Merging two people with different upbringings can be challenging.  When you first meet, your focus will be on how much you are so alike - values, beliefs, wants, needs.  While these are true,  time will reveal where you are very different.  Accept and value these differences, communicate how you feel, and develop an understanding of each other.

Just a few more little pieces of advice.  Don't bake in the sun.  Wear your sunglasses.  Make sure the back door of the van is closed before you head out to Vermont. Keep an eye on the gas gauge.  Don't use the waterpik on high.  Don't assume all mothers are tired.   Hide your hairbrush.

Finally,  enjoy your life.  Don't worry so much.  There is someone much wiser and more powerful in the control seat!