One day last week, my husband took the long way home from dinner. It was a rare slowed-down evening in a month of busy. A month of rush rush rush. A month of frayed tempers and patience. A month of "when we get through this..." In fact, sometimes, when he chooses the long way -- which is in reality only five minutes longer -- my stomach twists into a knot.
Why are you taking this way? We need to get home.
I have so much to do.
It's bathtime and I need to get our son in bed on time. He's probably already tired of being in the car.
He's going to start complaining soon.
I stifled the impatient voices for a few minutes of peace. The long way afforded us a view of some of the houses we love to window shop on a winding, beautiful road with a view of the hill country. As we rounded the second-to-last turn before we would enter our neighborhood, we saw several deer quietly standing on the front lawn of one of those beautiful houses. Two does and two spotted fawns, no more than a few months old.
My husband stopped the car and the three of us stared at the deer from our side of the road. They went on chewing and gazed back at us, and we moved along when we saw another car coming. The trance of stillness was broken, but it was a welcome respite from the stress that has been eating us lately.
That evening, I watched my son play and make up conversations with the rubber ducks and boats in the bath, and got stuck thinking about work, and things I need to do around the house.
Someday, our lives will be a little less hectic, I thought.
I forget to drink it all in, this cup full of everything I ever needed. Our problems are minimal.
And still, too often, we are stuck driving toward Someday. It feels like a real destination, as though we are taking a very long trip to this town called Someday without a map. And we forgot to pack a lunch. And the road signs are switched around and we've taken a few wrong turns.
Someday means: as soon as this month is over... as soon as we have more money... as soon as I finish this project. Someday, we'll have this thing that will make our lives easier. Someday, we can do that. Someday, I will finish this book. Someday, I will get in shape. It's the antithesis of the living in the moment and appreciating the right-now outlook I want to keep. My friends speak of "learning to live in the chaos" and I wish that was not the case for them or for us.
It wears on us, this wishing to fast-forward to the place in our lives in the direction we know we're heading. Especially when we have a small boy and I want time to move more slowly. It's too fast! There is not enough time! Slow down!
The ubiquitous "enjoy every moment" can sting like a thousand needles in sunburned skin when you are simultaneously wishing for time to move you to the next phase of your life, and desperately wishing that you could freeze time right now.
The detours getting to Someday are causing us to miss the little towns along the way. We're missing that tiny village with the colorful candy store filled with sugary treats. We're missing the hamlet with the nice lady at the lunch counter, who gives us a glass of milk and tells us stories about the farm where she grew up. We're missing the kids playing in the sprinklers on a hot summer day in the neighborhood tucked away behind the school.
The best thing I can do for our family is to live in the here and NOW and not let us get stuck in SOMEDAY.
I can continue to appreciate the quality time I have with my son when I am not working.
I can recognize that things are looking up and the light is just down the tunnel. I can see the faint glow of white down the way, and it seems just far enough out of reach to wonder just how far away Someday really is.
Instead of worrying about Someday, I can keep strong friendships with women who listen, who are empathetic, and bring perspective and laughter into my life.
I can stop and savor the spaces in between; the times when everything falls away and I am focused on what matters most. Family. Friends. My health. Love.
I can remind myself just how much we have going for us right now.
Now. Not someday.
The next day after we saw the deer grazing in the neighborhood nearby, my son and I walked the half mile down to the tennis courts from our house, and on the way home, he said, "Mama, will you pick me up?" I carried him nearly the whole way home, 40 pounds of little boy uphill. He wrapped his still-small hands around me and I remembered to freeze the moment in my mind. Someday, he won't want me to carry him. There is no rush.
Because someday may be too far to worry about right now. Right now, I'm drinking it all in.