Monday, January 15, 2007

New Things--They're Out There


"...old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

I am rereading Joyce Maynard's book, Domestic Affairs, probably for the 30th time. While in my 20's I used to buy the Sunday newspaper for mainly one reason--for Joyce's delightful essays about the ambivalent feelings of being a young mother nowadays. I've mentioned her book here and here before...

You learn a lot of what not to do while reading Joyce's book (Joyce and her husband later divorced... reading the book is rather like watching the proverbial train wreck approaching). But it's so much more--it's a trip for me back to those days of mothering a tiny Naomi and all those lessons learned--my own lessons, more than the ones I taught her.

Like this morning.... I read the part where Joyce and other moms sat at the beach chatting and laughing, but always--always--watching and watching and counting tiny heads out in the water. Afterward I thought, "I miss those days. Those days of sitting in the sun at the beach talking with friends in this 'mothering club'... belonging like that... watching our little ones playing with sunlight upon their hair.. Etc...etc...

But only for a moment.

I mean, of course I miss the sun. Hey, it was black outside with freezing rain tapping and coating my windows and turning our driveway into a skating rink. Who wouldn't miss the sun-warmed sandy beach in January?

And as for belonging to a group--I still belong to groups... just different ones. Groups of moms who are, like me, empty-nesters... women who are approaching 50 (or beyond it), pre-menopausal-tired, yes, but discovering new freedoms,too. Almost like a second 'teenagerhood'--a wiser, wealthier, more sensible one. And though I'm not yet a grandmother, myself, many of my friends are, and I'm learning from them and anticipating those days because of what my friends experience.

...and every time I wander the aisles of the supermarket I smile at babies in shopping carts and wave at them from behind their mother's back.... and remember... and rejoice at where I am now. That I can smile at babies and hold them without feeling like I must have one of my own.

What am I saying? I guess I've discovered that usually what I'm missing is not certain times and people of my past, but rather, certain feelings. Feelings of instant-belonging to the mommy group wherever I went.... or the feelings which came from playing June Cleaver around the house and creating something from nothing out of necessity..... or being needed by a child or reading her bedtime stories after she's had a bath and is all comfy in her little flannel nightgown.

But the good news is that there are a myriad of feelings out there and many can be recaptured--only tweaked a bit. I can still, at whatever age I may be, find ways to feel needed. And if I really want to spend time around little children, there are tons of ways I could do that. And even if I truly wanted to lay out beneath the sun, well, I could do that right now--if I wanted it badly enough.

Personally, I'm happy-out-of-my-mind right where I am at this moment, but I'm trying to make a point here. And that point is this: if we only sit around and grieve over the fun and feelings and times of the Past, we will miss out on the fun and feelings and times of the Present. And they're there, always waiting. Always there's something good for us in Today. But in these later years (I have found, anyway) often we just have to go after what we want a little harder than we did when we were young.

Or maybe it just feels that way because these bodies aren't quite what they once were. But again always... always... there are still good times, good feelings, good friends out there for anyone who is willing to spend some time looking.


***

"Behold, I will do a new thing; now it will spring forth; will you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert." ... Isaiah 43:19

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