Last night, my teenage daughter and I were texting each other about the winter storm that was coming our way. Like most of us, no matter how old we get, there is something about a snow storm that transports us back into a pair of feet pajamas jumping up and down for joy. The world takes pause and gives us permission to be interrupted from our daily routines and responsibilities by an symphony of magical flakes that never fail to deliver an awe-inspiring performance worthy of a standing ovation.
I could feel her excitement through her texts and through the many memories I have collected over her 15-year life span of that “snow glow” she wears at the mere possibility of descending flakes. It felt so bittersweet to be texting her instead of being there with her and her sister, creating yet another illustration for the treasured tales of our lives together. I’m greedy like that. I was given the gift of spending most of their waking and sleeping hours with them for the first 12 years of their lives. That has been a gift I am eternally grateful for, but I would be lying if I said it was enough. It will never be enough. Ever. I will always want more time with them, more laughter, more tears, more conversation, more picnics, more hugs, more political debates, more challenges, more growth, more life…with them.
Sometimes, it doesn’t feel fair to me that their father and I now split the time and, due to certain circumstances, he often gets more of their time than I do. But there is not enough time on this planet to waste on complaints or regrets. So, I allowed a few tears of motherly ache to be released and then celebrated the fact that my daughters and their father have been given the gift of time in the same way we had that gift in their earlier years.
Between the time they were born and our unfortunate separation that ended in divorce, their father missed out on some time with them in those first 12 years while building the business that allowed me to be with them so much. And now, the roles have reversed to some degree and he is with them a little more than half the time while I’m building my business. I never imagined myself here – divorced, running a business or even believing that I could, and sharing another snow day with them through texts and pictures. But I know I’m not alone.
We all face those moments when we suddenly stop and look around only to find unrecognizable territory as far as the eye can see. We are left scratching our heads like a hungover frat boy who can’t find his pants or his car, thinking “What the hell happened?” The trick is not spending too much time looking over your shoulder. Sure, you will want to look back long enough to catch the lessons that help you move forward with greater precision on where you place your next steps. But don’t stand there circling through the haze for too long, or you might end up lost.
It’s too easy to get lost in the nostalgia of better days gone by instead of planning and creating better days ahead. And few of us have ever needed help finding reasons to brutalize ourselves with condemnation and self-hatred – it’s one of our most brilliant methods of distraction from loving ourselves. Being a victim is easy. Hating yourself is easy. Judging and oppressing yourself will always be a piece of cake. Most of us do these things effortlessly, but self-love, personal freedom and standing in your power doesn’t have to be so hard.
It all comes down to the decisions we make every day about who we will show up as and how we will choose to see the world. When negative things happen, we can choose despair or we can choose to see a loving God who brings us many opportunities to keep working through our baggage by providing us with tasks we believe we can’t handle. The Universe knows better…and everything can change when we know better too. But it will pretty much look exactly the same until we DECIDE something different. That is what will allow us to do what we cannot – our daily decisions that we act upon. There was a time in my life when I would have started planning my retirement in the Psych Ward if I had been shown what the last 6 years have entailed. But those years woke something up in me that I have felt stirring all my life. Those years called upon a divine fire that was being fanned specifically for this time.
And even though I may not be eating snowballs and making a hot meal for my kids today during the snow storm, I have been blessed with a powerful reassurance: All those years I was making daily decisions to love my family have equipped my daughters with a fire of their own that is bringing them through painful life adjustments with their hearts in tact. So, when I look at my phone and see “I love you Mommy” at the end of our string of texts, I see a young lady who is learning alongside of her mother to make the best of things. I see girls who are deciding to love and to keep moving forward no matter what. I see nothing but inspiring beauty, even through the storms.