There’s a line I read in a Liane Moriarty book where the character is looking around a cafe and thinking, If only I were here, which is odd because she actually is there. It’s a feeling I instantly related to because I’ve often had a sense of being disconnected, as if I’m observing my life from a distance and thinking that it would be a beautiful place to be. I’m longing to be right in the middle of that life, but, of course, I am right there.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I remember sitting in my car at a park during my lunch break. There was a paved track and I watched as mother after mother in yoga pants pushed strollers around it. As I sat there watching those moms I wondered, Will that ever be me? I had no idea where that thought came from because I was freshly pregnant, basking in the glow of warm wishes from friends and family and I should’ve been able to imagine myself pushing a stroller. Later that day, after I was back at work, I began to bleed and I miscarried. I don’t know if I had a premonition or if it was just a sense of disconnect from a life I wanted but could barely imagine but I never forgot that moment in the park.
Just a little over a year later, as I wore yoga pants and pushed a stroller around that same park, I tried to bring that memory back to life. I tried to recreate the awe of watching those moms and what I had imagined as bliss, but, of course, I was exhausted and filled with the anxiety of having a newborn and stressing about my maternity leave ending. I was a new mom in the park pushing a stroller like I had witnessed and yearned for and I still wondered, Will that ever be me? I was there but I wasn’t there.
In An Alter in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor describes it perfectly:
“No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it. The treasure we seek requires no lengthy expedition, no expensive equipment, no superior aptitude or special company. All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is consent to be where we are.”
That’s the paradox I sometimes find myself in. I’m observing my amazing life and thinking, What a beautiful place. I wish I was there.
Recently, my husband and I took a mini-staycation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. With the help of the grandparents, we had a full 24 hours by ourselves at a local resort, then we picked up the kids and spent another 24 hours together. I felt more present and in the moment than I have in a very long time, which I’m sure is why I had such fantastic time. I was acutely aware of every moment we spent: the excitement of being at the movies with my husband, the incredible sushi we had for lunch, the awkwardness of being at the pool in front of a bunch of strangers, the kids arguing, the nature walk I took with my daughter where she made me take a picture of her in front of every cactus and wildflower patch.
Then, I am home again and I can’t even smell my breakfast until I walk back into the house later and catch the lingering whiff of bacon.
This last year has been a whirlwind. My husband and I have worked very hard running our business and we’ve taken turns juggling the kids so that I could work more. It has gone by so fast yet I can’t believe I’m the same person I was a year ago. It’s that paradox again. This is the life I always wanted but just as I try to grasp the incredibleness of it, another moment comes along and the awe is gone. It’s just life as I know it. Then, I say, Thank you God, and the awe is back just for a moment. Try it now. Thank you God. See what I mean?
I asked myself this morning, Have I done it well? No, not by my usual standards. I don’t have a completed checklist or the comfort of a routine well executed. My house is a mess but my kids are clean. I haven’t journaled much, haven’t blogged much, haven’t thought too deeply, to be honest. I get a little lost but all I have to do is remember I’m right here and for a moment I am.