#10yearchallenge

The view from my office window on this snowy winter afternoon is a good indication that the girls’ swimming lesson will probably be cancelled this evening and that school is questionable for tomorrow. Welcome to winter in Virginia — where any amount of snow shuts the entire tri-state area down for an undetermined amount of time.

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Big, fluffy, white flakes always put me in the mood to write, so write I must. Today’s inspiration comes from the #10yearchallenge that has been traveling around social media as of late. Unlike the ALS Challenge, this one won’t leave me freezing in a puddle of ice. So, I think I’ll play along.

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Above is a photo taken just over ten years ago — New Year’s Eve in Key West, on the cusp of 2009. I was 30 years-old and teaching college courses at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. Taylor and I lived in a condo on the East Side of Providence and had been trying to start a family since the beginning of that year. At that time, I was only a few months out from having lost my second pregnancy — a son at 19 weeks gestation. After the loss in August of 2008, we decided to book a family trip to Key West, as my baby’s due date was, coincidentally enough, December 27, 2008 — the day we boarded a plane for our tropical getaway. Although I don’t talk about it often, I am more than willing to speak about that very dark time in my life. The trip was bittersweet. Instead of nursing a newborn at home, I was miles away in paradise and drowning my sorrows in long runs along the beach, key lime everything and making family memories. Even now, I still look back at this trip fondly, as it was what I needed at the time. And, unbeknownst to me, it must have been exactly what the doctor ordered, as the very next month, I got pregnant with Clara.

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Fast forward ten years later to one of this year’s Christmas pictures. In the blink of an eye, I became a 40 year-old stay-at-home mother of two daughters living in northern Virginia (didn’t see that one coming!). Instead of teaching college students how to craft public speeches and work effectively in small groups, I spend my days teaching barre classes at home, serving on boards, volunteering in the classroom and keeping track of the girls’ social calendars — Girl Scout meetings, swim lessons, coding classes, play dates, etc. During the course of the last decade, there have been many highs (marathon runs, promotions, watching the girls learn, grow and exceed milestones) and some lows (high-risk pregnancies and auto-immune diseases — but, hey, who doesn’t have any health problems?). But, if you would have asked me a decade ago where I saw myself in 2019, it would be exactly where I am today (corny, but true). Sure, the move to Virginia was never a consideration at that point in time, but despite the fact that we live many miles away from our families and New England friends, we now call Virginia home. After almost four years of living in the mid-Atlantic region, our roots, along with our lives, are growing deeper still.

Since I began this afternoon’s writing, the snowflakes outside have gotten bigger, fluffier and are now covering the grass. As I sit here putting the finishing touches on today’s thoughts, my two girls are in the other room playing — Clara on her computer and Elyse on her tablet. I sometimes have to pinch myself when I think back to that time ten years ago when I thought I would never become a mother. How naive I was to want to wish time away so that I could get to this point — a point that only once had existed in my imagination. Knowing what I do now (my gosh, hindsight is such a vicious thing!) about the passage of time and how quickly 2009 becomes 2019, I wouldn’t have spent so much time wondering what my future held. No matter the circumstances and how long it took to get to this point — bumps in the road and all — we did eventually get here. In typical Type A form, I find myself looking ahead again. However, instead of thinking about what life will be like in 2029 (gah!), I’ve slightly scaled back my line of sight. As days turn to weeks, months and years too quickly, I now prefer to keep my focus on the current calendar page or two. In the past ten years, I’ve learned that once you have children, there is no need or want to wish the time away. Its passage is something that you can’t control, but something that you, instead, cherish.

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