Mr. Sillypants here with a bit of a guest column. Ms. Plum has returned from a recent trip with Songbird and Flower to watch Twinkletoes dance; they had a very enjoyable time but I think they are all still recovering from a few long days.
This morning, I had a bit of a “cosmic hit” as I sat in church. It was Reformation Sunday at Messiah Lutheran Church and I was filling in at the beautiful tracker-action pipe organ and piano for the first service. Pastor Jeff, also an adoptive parent and one of my favorite people, always seems to deliver insightful, inspiring and powerful messages which hit home. This morning was no different.
He shared a story of a middle age woman who decided to run a 10K race for charity. This was a distance which she had done a number of times; after doing a bit of fundraising, she arrived (early) to register and get ready for the race. She gathered with a group of other runners and took off at a comfortable pace, enjoying a nice course on a beautiful, cool, sunny morning.
After a period of time, she started to realize that she was far beyond where the “turn-around” point should be for a normal 10K race. After asking a few other runners near her where the turn-around was (and getting smiles and laughter in return), she was finally told by a fellow runner that she was actually on the course for the marathon!
She said that she actually had to stop and shed a few tears, due to the fact that the shock was so great. After gathering herself again, she decided to run a few more miles to get to where she could catch a cab or board a bus back to her starting point. So, she set off again, and . . .
. . . just over 4 hours later, she crossed the finish line for the marathon, finishing 83rd out of 200 people in her age group. When asked why she went ahead and finished the marathon, she replied, “it wasn’t the race I had wanted, but it was the race I was in and I decided to run it anyway.”
You know, I really do love my life. I have a family I adore, both the “big kids” and little, beloved Blueberry. My life with Ms. Plum is rich, fun, empowering, occasionally messy yet quirky and magical. I have a career I love and avocations which are sources of happiness and growth for me.
Yet, when the stress of my job builds up, when I arrive home to find a sinkful of dishes or a willful 2-1/2 year old or a cluttered garage or a neurotic canine or a stressed-out public educator spouse or gutters filled with yard debris or (gasp) all of the above – – – well, it’s sometimes hard not to wonder what it would be like if my life were just a bit different.
For example, what would it be like if Ms. Plum and I were parenting a very energetic child while we were in our 20’s or 30’s, rather than our 40’s? What would it be like if we had jobs which were rewarding but without the myriad physical and emotional demands? What would it be like if the garage was a sanctuary for manly tools and not a repository for countless kids toys which cannot be given away (Blueberry’s firm opinion) yet clutter the floor to such an extent that we have to raise the garage door and use the front door to get to the car?
Yet, that is not the race that is set before me.
The race which is mine to run is one where 40-year-old parents have to use life experience and maturity (rather than boundless energy) to parent a willful 2-1/2 year old, where jobs are edifying yet have the potential to overwhelm at times and, yes, where a garage is used for any number of things, including the storage of countless garage sale bargains for Blueberry.
Yet, if I were in some other race, I wouldn’t know the joy of my life with Ms. Plum; I wouldn’t have the experience of Blueberry suddenly wrapping his arms around me and saying, “I love you, Daddy.” I wouldn’t have all those moments when I just feel SO LUCKY to be in this place at this time.
Frankly, when I take a moment to look around, I realize this race is perfect.