Seven days a week, 365 days a year, I get breakfast and lunch together, cook supper, make the bed and clean the counter tops. On any given day, I scrub out the bathroom sink or dust the furniture, do the grocery shopping, run errands. Each weekday I shower, dress and go to work. In the last decade or two I’ve added writing, editing, and springboarding two new businesses to the mix. Those things have now also become part of the routine, albeit a part near and dear to my heart. The days wheel into nights, the months into seasons into years. My life has a sameness to it that is as soothing as it is boring.
It doesn’t seem like I’ve accomplished much through all this time, but when I looked back and focus on the outcomes of each year, I find that I’ve done so much more than I ever dreamed I had. Because those tiresome tasks, those one-blending-into-the-other-endless-tasks have fed a family, created a home that was welcoming, safe, and warm, and enriched the lives of my kids and sometimes their friends. I helped create a lifetime of memories that will be treasured, and I’ve learned to temper my temper (a monumental undertaking and still a work in progress).
Four children raised and launched, some more successfully than others and one by long distance, but they all have become caring and respectful adults, living reasonably well and raising their own families. Well, except the youngest. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for her to start a family. I mean, she’s my baby after all.
Wrote three books and published one. Started a weekly column that is gaining momentum, and a blog that has touched a few people. I’ve mediated a fight or two, lost some friends and gained others. Acted as an advocate for my parents and saw several someones I love through tough times. I’ve made colossal mistakes and avoided others by the skin of my teeth and lived to tell about them. Even as a kid of twelve or sixteen or twenty-two, there were instances in my life that I can think about with pride.
It wasn’t all great. I’ve done some things I was ashamed of. Spent a few years running away from all I knew and loved, partly due to pride, partly because of circumstances. Even then, the daily routines didn’t stop, only shifted location. I still cleaned and held a job, folded laundry, bought groceries, cooked the meals. Some days that drove me crazy and other days the ordinary helped me remain sane.
The point here is this – I always thought my life was like plain white toast – slightly nice right out of the toaster but blah and bland with the passage of time. I was a mostly typical kid who grew (after some rough starts and stops) into a definitely typical housewife and mother. Now that I’ve morphed into this sort of empty-nester stage, I’ve made time to reflect on how I’ve used the talents I was given, all of which seemed so mundane. I’ve discovered just the opposite; that as the years gather behind me, the lives of those I’ve touched, helped, loved, grows exponentially.
My accomplishments compound as the days pass. They aren’t newsworthy in the grand scheme of things. Most of them are known only to a few and some to no one at all except me. But on looking back, I find that perhaps my life was not just plain white toast after all. Maybe, just maybe, there’s been a spread of marmalade to sweeten it some.