Saturday, November 12, 2005

The sun will come out... tomorrow?

I recently realized that I'm too old to play Annie. As in Little Orphan Annie, the obnoxious redhead with the Pollyanna complex.

Not that this should worry me; I mean, I'm way, way past the age to play the little belter with the heart of gold. I'm even getting beyond Lily St. Regis age, and dipping dangerously close into Miss Hannigan territory.

"Leading Lady" roles, my voice teacher tactfully informed me.

It's not the role itself that bothers me. Truthfully, I never really wanted to be Annie. I would have settled for Pepper. She was much more my kind of gal. Rather it's the idea that I will never again be the right age to play Annie--or a slew of other roles that I've always wanted to play.

I guess in the back of my mind, I always thought, "oh, well, the next time I'm ten years old, I'll play Annie." Like I'd have another chance. Like I'd get to the end of my life and with all the wisdom I'd attained throughout my decades, I'd have the opportunity to go back and revisit key moments and make different choices.

Next time, I'll coax my parents into letting me audition for plays earlier.
I'll start taking ballet at three instead of ten.
I won't listen to my dad when he points out my belly in my preteen years. I'll tell him I need it to grow.

Not too long ago, I sort of woke up and realized that I will never have another chance to do any of those things. Unlike the DVR above my television, I cannot go back, rewind, review or reprogram.

That realization was a bit of a shock. And now, I'm surprised that I even thought I could on a subconscious level. I mean, sure, if you had asked me, I would have told you that everyone ages and no one gets a "do-over." I'm a sometimes-rational, mildly intelligent human. I know that, as Shakespeare so eloquently put it, we are born "astride the grave," or something along those lines (it was a disturbing image in English 4 when we read the passage in Hamlet. I think it was Hamlet. It might have been a poet somewhere in the early 1900s. Is there some sort of resource online to input what you think the line is and have the source spit out the correct citation? Or is that called "Google?").

But underneath the rational conscious, I suppose I was harboring some sort of delusion about having another chance. Call it the immaturity of youth. Maybe that's the moment when we all truly grow up and mature--when we realize that we don't get another chance.

The cliched version of this notion is "Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal."

I've read that on countless buttons and bumperstickers my entire life. I always thought I understood it. But now I really think I do.

You would think, with my mother dying as young as she did, I would have understood this all by now, and grasped it on a conscious and subconscious level. Apparently not.

I can't exactly pinpoint what event led me to this "awakening." Maybe it's watching my children grow every day. My oldest is two and a half. Her younger brother is three months. Looking at him at three months and remembering her at three months, and realizing that time is just slipping along... that every day I do the mundane chores of washing clothes and bottles and dishes, preparing meals, changing diapers, answering the phone, writing a few lines... and it doesn't mean anything. Nothing earth-shattering. I go to bed tired. I wake up tired (from having a three month old, I guess). The days are passing and I don't know that I am doing anything to leave my mark, to make my contribution to the world or the greater good.

A more positive person would argue that I'm raising two children and shaping and molding them into functional humans... giving them the skills and the grounding that they need, along with the unconditional love and boundaries they so crave. That my work at home is necessary and appreciated by my husband and ultimately, it will be by my children when they are old enough to understand (at 30? 40?).

But everyday that I go to bed without doing something--something meaningful and worthwhile--I wonder if I am just wasting my time. Wasting space. Wasting resources.

The weeks are starting to look the same: grocery shopping on Monday, playgroup on Tuesday, voice lessons and doctor appointments on Wednesday, gym class on Thursday, work writing and cooking on Friday, cleaning and picking up on Saturday, and occasionally, family time on Sunday. That's not everything, but it's a fair representation. It's a pattern, it's comfortable--at times. But it's mind-numbing at other times. And I ask--isn't there more? Have I seriously been reduced to a week-full of errands and home-maker crap? "Where is the life that late I led?"

But the other things I have done don't beckon me forward any more strongly than my present. I don't want to teach again. I don't want to be in the work force and have a nine to five.

I guess I just want some kind of change up in schedule. Something else to do that gives me something to look forward to every day. I don't know what that something is. Every time I add something to the mix, life gets unbelievably more complicated--my choices now affect three other people.

And yet, when I step back from the gloom, I think of my baby's face, and I adore him. I want to show him the world and see it through his eyes. That's the most important thing. My daughter is a challenge right now and I think she is wearing me down. I would like some time with my husband besides sleeping next to each other every night. I feel like all I do is nag, nag, nag for help with the kids, help around the house. I want to have a real conversation. But more importantly, I want him to want to talk to and spend time with me. I know that we are in a period of adjustment now because of the baby. But it feels like a holding pattern. And I want to LIVE.

There are so many plays I want to see, so many books I want to read, so many pages I want to write, so many places I want to visit. Money, time and energy are the only things holding me back.

The added realization that this is my only go-round, my only chance, my only opportunity to experience life and that my days are ultimately numbered makes this holding pattern all the more frustrating.

And finally, another bumpersticker byte comes to mind: "Life is a journey, not a destination."

So I come to a place of sanity, finally. I hope I haven't wasted your time. It took me a while to get here. And I'm sure I'll lose my place again--probably soon--when my daughter throws her peas on the floor for the fifth time this week, or my son pees on me yet again.

If I can just remember:

"If you revel in the past and fear the future, you will miss the now. Enjoy the now. It is the only certainty."

And that, my friends, is my own. No Shakespeare, Milton or Donne for this chica. Those words are mine.

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