I had an interesting conversation with Annaliese that made me think back over my adult life.
I made the comment in passing that I was pretty much mortified by everything I'd said and done between the ages of 14 and 25. She said there must have been SOME good things about those years, and I replied, yes, that was when she was born.
I was then asked when was the best time of my life. Oooh, that's a toughie. Looking back, it's easy to say, "oh, this time was so great" and forget the hard parts.
For example, the Early Married Years were good, because the babies were born, and we had a sense of community where we lived and with the church we attended. However, the Early Married Years were hard because we were really broke and I was still so immature. That was also when we lost Baby E. Talk about hard times.
The Farm Years were good because the kids had space to run and play, more babies were born, we lived in a HOUSE instead of an apartment, and Paul got his dream job. However, The Farm Years were hard because we had a whole bunch of little kids and Paul was working and going to school and working a second job and volunteering and gone a lot.
Then we moved out of Sonoma County, away from everyone we knew, and it was good because we bought our first house, and because Paul was happy at work, and because I feel like I finally grew up and mellowed out in that home, but it was hard because I missed my friends and realized that to many people, we're freaks.
Oh, harmless freaks, to be sure, but freaks all the same. The lots of kids, homeschooling, home-birthing, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering thing raised some eyebrows when I tried to break into the playgroup scene here in town. Unfortunately, we're also freaks in the homeschool community for sending our kids to school. Nothing like having a mom who's oldest kid is 4 tell you that she's going to homeschool through high school, and why aren't you homeschooling your older kids?? (Our motto: Education is a year by year, child by child decision.)
Adopting is another way we're freakish. Although we're starting to see more and more families with a blend of biological and adopted children, there are still people who asked why we were adopting, since we obviously weren't infertile.
6 months ago, we moved here. In this chapter of my life, the kids are starting to grow up and leave the nest. It's bittersweet. Paul's dad once said, "Once they get to the point where they're actually helpful, they leave." I can see his point. Zachary's absence left a huge vacuum of quiet at first until we found our new normal when he went away to boot camp. I'm sure it will be the same as the other kids grow up and spread their wings.
The best time of my life? I think it's about attitude. I look back at pictures of the kids and smile, seeing the fun memories and forgetting the pain and frustration interspersed between images. If I can do that for my yesterdays, and choose to see only the good--not in a revisionist history sort of way, but in a choosing to focus on the happy times, the blessings--what's to say I can't do that for now? This! Is the best time of my life. And the past 2 decades have been, as well.