I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. Probably because it seems to be speeding up. My kids are going to turn 12 and 4 this summer. In the fall, my son will be going into his second year of middle school and my daughter will be starting preschool. Preschool. My baby. How in the hell did that happen? I feel like I’m on a roller coaster, and there’s no slowing down. I’m moving at the speed of life, like it or not.
Most days, I’m fine with it. I enjoy having more “grown-up” kinds of conversation with my son, who surprises me all the time with his on-point observations. And while my daughter’s “Terrible Threes” leave something to be desired, I’ll take them over the infant stages, any day. She’s turning into her own person, and it’s (mostly) fun to watch.
So what gives, then? What has my stomach lurching into my throat wishing I could slow down the clock? It’s me. I’m not where – or even who – I thought I would be. That whole “What do you want to be when you grow up” question seems a lot less humorous at 46 than it did it 20 or 30. Back then I still felt like I had time to figure it all out. Now I’m acutely aware that time is slipping away, seemingly faster and faster. Those things I kept putting off “until” are rattling around in the boxes I put them in, reminding me that if things are shelved too long they might be lost altogether. My Facebook feed is full of articles aimed at people my age, and the prevailing theme seems to be:
IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
When indeed? I lie in bed at night, my mind worrying over things I need to fix, things I can’t control and snippets of stories I never get around to writing. (If not now, when?) I wake up in the morning and the anxiety is still there but the stories are gone. The need to write – to find my voice – is recurring but unfortunately not constant. I shelve it a lot, based on everything from fear to getting the laundry done. Weird, I know. It shouldn’t be that easy to put off something so important.
This leads me to the self-esteem stuff. In this area I can honestly say that I’ve made real progress. I like myself far better today than I did at 20 or 30, but there are still things that need work. I like my face now, which is kind of amazing, honestly. I recently had a conversation with a friend about affirmations. It seems like only yesterday that I was 20, fairly newly sober and was forced to do them. God, I hated them, and felt like the world’s biggest idiot giving myself compliments as I looked in the mirror. Trust me, my tone at the time would have convinced no one that I meant what I was saying, and yet. Somehow, ever-so-slowly, the words took hold. The repetition became meaningful, less ironic. Miraculous, I swear. I wouldn’t have believed back then that I would reach a place where I would smile at my own reflection, but it happened.
Unfortunately, that positivity doesn’t entirely extend to my body. When am I going to find complete acceptance? At size 12, 10 or 8? At a particular weight? (If not now, when?) And what happens if I never get there? How many days, weeks or months of my life have been lost to wishing I looked a certain way? Moreover, how sad is that? What could I devote all of that wasted time to if I woke up tomorrow and decided to like myself – my whole self – exactly as I am? This shouldn’t be limited to my appearance, of course. Acceptance works best when there aren’t exclusions. What if I never sat around at a social event feeling weird and “other?” What would I do instead? What could happen? Deep thoughts. It would be helpful if I had the answers.
I am typing this on my Nook, somewhat haltingly, as I have been spoiled by the auto-correct on my iPhone. (Wait, you mean I actually have to type an apostrophe?!?) I am drinking cold coffee out of a cup that reads “Breathe,” advice I should certainly follow. I am still in my “lounge pants” (sounds better than pajama bottoms) at 2:30 in the afternoon and I have to pick up my son from school in 20 minutes. Next week is the last week of school, and it seems impossible that summer is almost here, already. Regardless, it’s clearly time for me to get my act together. Past time.
P.S. I recently have begun to follow a few “body-positive” models on Instagram. They are varying sizes and shapes, and all are quite attractive. I wish this notion of “attractive at any size” had existed when I was younger. When Cindy Crawford is the only example of a “curvy” model, you know you’re in trouble. The women who are out there now are advocating for women everywhere, and it’s refreshing and more than a little awe-inspiring. They may be younger, but I have plenty to learn from them.