Very often lately, I’ve found myself feeling as though I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up in someone else’s life. It’s not so much that anything monumentally unusual has happened; on the contrary, life seems to be chugging right along at a very moderate pace and with a minimal amount of drama these days.
It’s actually that, now it comes down to it. I’ve just been smacked in the face with how different my everyday, ordinary weekday existence is from the one that seemed most likely when I was a kid.
I was extremely introverted. I was extremely bookish and a devoted student. I didn’t particularly like people, to be honest. Oh, I liked mankind in the general way; I just found individual people to be generally more a nuisance than interaction with them was worth. Wasn’t particularly interested in marriage, kids, or a house with a white picket fence. I loved the city and houses that had “character.”
So how exactly I ended up at 33 with a husband, two kids, a cookie-cutter ranch in rural Palmyra, I’m not exactly certain. Well, I know how it happened insofar as I know my own history. I’m less sure of the why.
I’m not regretful at all; I ended up with a life that suits me pretty well. I’m still bookish and odd; I’ve gotten over the introversion since I discovered some people like me, bookish oddness and all. I love my kids even though I’ll never be one of “those moms”–the ones who attend PTO meetings and bake cupcakes and obsess over the fact that the preschool teacher thinks Johnny’s crayon work is “immature.” I still get a little irritated at moms who bristle and blow over the term “working mom” but are completely oblivious to the fact that “full time mom” implies I’m a mere part timer. [NOTE:Â I think it’s perfectly fine if you like the title “full-time mom.”Â I just think it’s a bit unfair to do it IF you’re also going to complain, loudly, about “working mom”–yes, I know there’s no such thing as a “nonworking mom.”Â I also know there’s no such thing as a “part time mom.”Â RANT OVER.]
I love my job, although the winding path to getting here seems a bit ridiculous considering I’ve known since I was five I wanted to write for a living. I love my husband and our weird relationship. We put the “fun” in “dysfunctional.”
But lately I find myself thinking about the life I predicted; what it would be like, where I would live, and what I’d be doing with my ordinary everydays if it had been a true prediction. Not in a wistful, “if only” kind of way. Just in a “isn’t that interesting to think about?” kind of way.
What I realize more and more is that the really significant differences are the people. My imagined future was remarkably people-free. Some cats, possibly. But very few people; much like Kathleen Turner’s romance novelist from “Romancing the Stone.” Come to think of it, I don’t think I’d have liked it much, had it panned out that way.
And I will try to remind myself of this next time Madeline is screaming at hypersonic volume and demanding her daily peanut butter sandwich while I still have one foot on the stoop coming in from work.