i didn’t know what i didn’t know

If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you could not learn any other way.
~Mark Twain~


My oldest son is nearly 21 years old.  It is with great pride that I tell you he knows everything.  Just like I did when I was 21 years old. 


The other day, whilst engaged in a deep and meaningful conversation, his father and I tried to explain to him that how he felt at this point in his life would change over time.  He wouldn’t feel the same at 30 or 40 years old as he does at 21 years old.  For purposes of our conversation, 40 was about as far as I  was willing to age to illustrate my story.


His father and I, being formed of powerful light and sage-ness, imparted the knowledge to him that his opinions would change, his life would alter course many times whether by choice or circumstance, life would beat him up a little and he’d be the same person … and yet different.  He would view life differently based on his experiences.

He laughed.  And assured me that he would be who he is now and forever more, amen.

Well. He wouldn’t say ‘amen’ because for all his Catholic upbringing, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars spent on a Jesuit education, he’s kinda chucked that as well.


However.  I left that conversation with the realization that you can’t interpret someone’s life for them.  He will have to learn in the same manner we did. 

One day at a time, one pleasure at a time, one scar at a time.

I have learned that …

… with every year that passes, I am wiser, tougher and more thankful for the smallest of things.

… sometimes the events I considered to be the worst, most painful things in my life, were ultimately the experiences that taught me the most about who I really am.  Those circumstances brought about change that wouldn’t have happened in any other way.  And that when I was raw to the bone and felt utterly abandoned, I was also the most open to other possibilities.

… raising babies is physically demanding, but older children can be mentally and emotionally draining in equal parts.  Once you have babies, you are tethered to another human being for the rest of your life.  They are yours, for better or worse.  Your life is henceforth changed forever.

That being said, I know that …

… as a mother you love your children in the same, unfathomable measure, with no favor of one over the other. However.  As you love them for the unique beings they are, you love them differently.  Having ten years between my sons, there were many agonizing nights I laid awake while pregnant with our second son, worrying about how I could possibly love another son as much as I do our first.  But you do.  


I believe that …

… religion is not faith.  What matters most is not how I worship, but who I worship.  God wants a relationship, not a dog-and-pony show.

… no one else needs to believe what I believe in order to make it true for me.  I don’t need agreement to validate my faith. 

… if everyone allowed everyone else to follow their hearts and conscience in the manner of faith, I think God would be a whole lot happier with us.

I sometimes ponder why …

… I’m middle aged, but in my mind’s eye I rarely view myself beyond my 21-year old self.  Even when I’m coloring my gray roots.  Even when I catch a glimpse of my post-nursing breasts in the mirror.  Even when I flex my hands and note the loss of elasticity of the skin on the backs of them, which is really starting to creep me out, by the way.  My middle-aged self never shows up. I’m still kinda diggin’ on Lisa at 21.  She was always the nicest girl to me. 

I think when I’m 80 and have to face hard facts, it’s going to come as quite a shock to my geezer-ly system.


In the realm of relationships, life has taught me that …

… if a friend makes you feel small in order to make themselves feel big, they’re not a friend.

… sometimes blood is not thicker than water.

… if you are merely an audience for a friend’s non-stop drama, you need to find a better way to spend your time.

… you can’t expect one person to fulfill all your needs.  At some point, that person is going to resent the burden.

… a true friend is invaluable.  And if you’re as fortunate as I am to have a best friend who knows more about you than anyone on the planet and you trust that person implicitly to take your secrets to the grave, you are very blessed indeed.

What wisdom I would most wish to impart upon my son is that life is very, very short.  And in the blink of an eye, he’s going to be middle-age too and he’ll see how very little he really knew at 21.