So today is my and my husband's eight-year anniversary. And I know you know this, but marriage isn't always easy. As a social institution, some days I can't even figure out if I'm "for it or agin it." That being said, my equally-stubborn and equally-annoying husband and I have now been part of that institution (heh...good word) for these eight years and, as of today, we're on speaking terms and tonight we'll go to dinner and a movie. I guess that means it's working on at least some level! (There's a joke in there, people...please don't take that too seriously.)
And days like this always set my stream of consciousness on a path toward childhood. Thinking about the complexities of adult life remind me of how, in some ways, childhood was filled with much simpler things. I was an anxious child...quiet...fairly OCD...but caring...and rarely if ever cruel. I loved to read anything I could get my hands on and I loved to laugh until my side hurt. And I found absolute delight in simple things like Mexican Jumping Beans and Pop Rocks.
I remember having lots of Jumping Beans but, you know, I can't remember how I got them, how long they lasted, or what we did with them when they were "done." (Unfortunately, as I read it now, it appears that "done" meant "dead." I have been terrified of every sort of bug all my life so I'm sure I'd remember if an insect had come popping out of my toy.) Holding them in my hand, though, it was so amazing when something I thought was a bean starting jumping around, giving it a magical quality like a pet rock. Back then, I thought a pet rock would come to life if you gave it enough attention. (Then again, I also lined all my dolls up on the bed in a rotating fashion every night so none of their feelings would get hurt because one got to sleep next to me more than others. Wait a second. Maybe I was not a smart child.)
I don't recall now just what I thought caused Pop Rocks to do their thing but I think I associated it somehow with the moon (like maybe they were from the moon). I suppose there would have been some disappointing point in my life when I would have realized, if I'd continued eating a lot of Pop Rocks as I advanced through science in school, that the moon would not succumb to a giant, foaming explosion if someone had dropped a giant can of soda on it. Okay, I feel like I'm getting off the subject, here. The point is, I loved Pop Rocks. What a simple pleasure could be found in that little package of candy.
Nowadays I'm very aware that somehow, I at once feel like someone pretending to be a grown-up and someone very old. I love stupid movies and goofy humor but sometimes I'm the only one laughing. I look around me and I've got a set of adult problems and concerns, a house full of beautiful children, a career I'm never sure I want, more wonderful friends than I have time to see as much as I should, pills to make me sleep, and a wicked sense of humor. And when I look at my children, I see many of my own childhood fears, my own facial expressions, the same resilience that all children possess, and the same fascination with fun, simple things.
So I'm 36...and ten years ago I couldn't have even begun to (correctly) guess where I'd be in life today. All this feels sort of like snow skiing. There's not much real control and, while letting go and taking a chance will probably be the most fun, it doesn't always get you the best result (e.g., trees and/or falling on your ass). Interestingly, I don't like snow skiing. It's cold and scary and I've never gotten past the falling on my ass part.
My closing thought is the result of this same stream of consciousness I spoke of earlier. Thinking about success in life and family, the only thing I know for sure I'm doing right is that I smile at my kids, hug them until they're tired of it, and say I love them with great enthusiasm and genuineness. You know, that sometimes-juvenile sense of humor I've retained is a check-mark in the "correct" column, too. I find myself laughing with the kids a lot (as does my husband). Maybe someday, after the teenaged years when they hate me for everything I may have done wrong, they'll remember that I looked into their eyes and smiled, gave them lots of hugs, and always told them I love them...and that we laughed together.