Five years ago, this was me:
|With a handsome dance partner|
I have mixed feelings about pictures of myself in the recent past. They remind me of how much older I’ve become. Everything’s a little slower, a little lower. I’m weaker physically. Just a little bit.
No matter that I was up until 2 am with a sick child the other night, which throws everything off. Plus, I’m coming off of a terrible week-long cold. My eyes sport shadows they didn’t in recent years. My body has shifted and shrunk, yet in some places it has thickened. It seems the years have multiplied. Moreover, my mind is settling, a sobering fact on its own. I don’t actually mind that part too much. I feel better about my place in the world.
People talk all the time about how old they are, how old they feel. “I’m too old for this,” they say. I used to dismiss this line of thinking. How dare they say that! Buck up and live your life, for goodness’ sake. You only have one life. You want to live it as an old person? How drab. How sad.
“I’m old enough to know better not to walk outside in the freezing cold,” I heard myself say to my neighbor the other day. It was 15 degrees outside. We’ve walked together every weekday morning for several years now, barring vacations, illness, and heavy precipitation. Five years ago I might have tried to convince my friend to join me in chancing ice and snow on the sidewalks; now a wind gust or two sends me back to the warmth of my slippers and coffee.
Five years ago.
A lifetime. A minute.
I was in the thick of Mommy-ing, our kids 9 and 7. It was just a few years ago, but pictures and videos suggest otherwise. It was a lifetime ago. Ballet and Christmas pageants and Little League, orchestrating playdates and helping to choose clothes and tie shoes and practice spelling words and figure out math problems. Packing lunches and drying tears and refereeing fights and clean up those toys now and let's have a dance party in the living room. Five years ago there were bedtime stories at 8:30.
Five years ago I was running out the door for Moms Nights Out, my girlfriend squealing her tires in the driveway as we sped away shrieking into the night. Five years ago a friend whose children were in college said to me “When they leave, it all ends amazingly.” I nodded, but couldn’t understand. I didn't care; I needed to get out once in a while.
If I could, I would grab my five years ago self by the arm and say “Sit next to me; closer, now. I want to show you something. I want to tell you something.” And I’d show my five years ago self the following picture:
That’s me, today. Tired because I was up until 2 am the night before with a sick preteen who doesn’t need Mommy to give her medicine and to fill up the vaporizer anymore; instead, she needs Mom to teach her how to take care of herself when she gets a cold.
Me, with the short haircut that I wanted back then but had been too afraid of cutting it again after the haircut debacle of ’02. And ’03, if we’re keeping track.
Me with no makeup, sitting in an office chair because my life contains more planning and logistics and less cleaning and picking up after. More sitting but less angst about it. More aches and pains, but also less late nights “doing” after the kids go to bed. More early nights and mornings and less feeling out of place for preferring them. More real conversations, uninterrupted. More knowing what healthy relationships look like. More knowing how to achieve them.
More me time. All the me time.
That’s me in five years. More content, serene. Older. Wiser.
I’m not sure that my five years ago self would understand. Sometimes a person needs to experience it for themselves.
Five years of life is a lot of years of change. It shows in every way on our bodies and in our hearts. So much happens in five years. Children grow into the people they will become; loved ones grow older and some are gone; cherished relationships end and new ones begin. Bodies shift, shrink, and thicken; as eyes and hearing fade, emotions and feelings stretch and lengthen. Minds settle into patterns of thinking. In many ways we weaken, but in others, we are so much stronger.
As soon as you look up, five years are gone. Everything you know today will end amazingly.
A lifetime. A minute.
This post inspired by:
Prompt #5: If you could have given yourself a snapshot five years ago of what your life is like now, what would the picture be of and how do you think you would have felt about it?