Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Consistent Contentment

It was a bright, blue sky day, as it usually is in my new home state of Colorado. We were driving down I-25, headed to Colorado Springs. For two weeks we'd hosted a teenager from Brazil and most of what we'd shown him 'of America' had involved driving the winding mountain roads around our house. We figured it was time to show him some other parts of Colorado, including the majestic red rocks at the Garden of the Gods. As a bonus, my 9 year old nephew had just arrived to visit from San Francisco. Climbing on rocks was the perfect plan for a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Traffic was consistent but not thick. Hubby was at the wheel, lost in his own thoughts. The valley was spread out around us, with mountain ranges and large hills surrounding it. We'd actually made it out of the driveway on time and all six inhabitants of our Suburban were content.

In fact, not only were the four kids I was hauling south content, my two kids who were not in the truck were also content. This is a fact that is not to be taken lightly. When you are the mother to four children, there is rarely a time that all four are in a good place at the same time. Especially when the teen and young adult years hit. It's almost as if they take turns having their life hiccups and once one is solved, the next pops up right on time.

But on this day, this oh so rare magical day, all of my kids were in a good place.

My oldest was off exploring in Houston. Her plans to move to the state where she would never have to clear snow off her car were almost complete. Serious health problems had forced my legal adult girl to move back home. It was not a comfortable plan, but a necessary one. We'd spent the past months getting the right medicines and seeing the right doctors, so she could finally fly from the nest for good. The thought of living in a year- round warm state kept her plugging through a job in our hometown that she didn't like and saving every penny she earned. This weekend she had flown down to see old friends and do some scouting for her soon to be new life.

Her brother, the oldest of her three male siblings, was off on his own adventures too. Just that morning I'd seen new pictures of him on Facebook, surrounded by the guys in his Army unit, all grinning in that way that says 'watch out world, here we come'. There were hard days of training but the fact that training involved throwing grenades and driving tanks kept it all in perspective for him. His calls home were mostly upbeat and positive. He was carving his place in the world and the options laid out in front of him were endless.

My middle boy, now a tall 17 year old who dwarfs his father and me (and we're pretty tall people ourselves) was in the seat right behind me, plugged into his music. I treasure the moments I share with him, when he's not at work or out with friends, and still adore his company as much as I did when he was six years old and still fit in my lap.

My littlest guy was tucked into the third row, in the very back of the Suburban, a smile spread across his face because his best friend had finally arrived for a visit. His cousin, Soul, may live 600 miles away but the second they see each other, they fall into an easy sync. Sam and Soul, the cousin twins. The day would be twice as fun for my Sam, just because one of his favorite people on the planet was enjoying it with him.

I had headphones on too. I was listening to the soothing voice of Tim McGraw, who reminded me in song after song, of how lucky I am  How life is short. How every good thing in my life, no matter how small, is a gift. His music flooded into my ears as I took in the gorgeous scenery outside my window and felt a peace in my soul that all my chickies were in a good place on this day.

It brought me back to a conversation I'd had with Sam just a few days earlier. We'd driven to the airport together, just the two of us. He was so excited to see his cousin that he wanted to be the first one Soul saw when he stepped off the plane. The hour long drive gave us a good chance to have an uninterrupted talk.

The topic of money came up. Our visitor from Brazil comes from a family who has a much bigger bank account than ours. He would never flaunt it, but it's just a reality of life. The big ticket items that Sam puts on a Christmas list were being purchased by our friend because the price in our country was much lower than the ones he could find at home. This provided the perfect segue into a discussion about economics, inflation and the consistency of pricing in a capitalist society. 

And then it led into a bit of dreaming and wishing on part of my son. I agreed with him that it would be nice to have a fat bank account. It would be nice to buy fun things all year round, and have the best of the electronics that he pores over every time we shop at Target. And this conversation led to the most important chat we had that day.

I reminded him that as much as he fantasized about owning expensive toys, and the life that our Brazilian friend leads, half the kids in the world fantasized about his life. Half the kids in the world are jealous of him, and wonder what it's like to not only have consistent food on his table, but to have a wide variety and many treats mixed in. Half the kids in the world own less than a drawer full of clothes they can call their own. Half the kids in the world wonder what it's like to go to bed comfortable, warm, safe and loved by two healthy parents in a stable relationship. 

He's one blessed boy.

And this is what I felt, on that drive to Colorado Springs. Blessed. Our life has not been easy. We've had more than our share of medical issues and our bank account has never been at a place you'd call 'fat'. But we're surrounded by people who love us. Our cup overflows with family that adore our kids, have their own stable lives, and are great examples to our children about what fun, hard working grown ups look like.

We were on the highway in a reliable vehicle that fit all six of the tall people we'd crammed inside. We were able to fill up that vehicle with gas so that we could have a fun day exploring more of our beautiful world. There would be hikes and laughs and jokes told and priceless memories made that day. All four of my kids, and both of our visitors, were happy and content.

I could not ask for more.


This was the post that swirled around my head for two days until I could find the time to write it all out. And in that brief 48 hour spell, I lost my sense of peace and contentment. By Monday, two of my four children were struggling once again.

My middle boy was tired and grumpy as I drove him to his job that morning. Working forty hours a week is fun for the bank account but not so fun for the social life. It's far enough into the summer that the novelty of having his first job has worn off and now it's hard to set that alarm every night and face another day.

And an even bigger issue, my daughter, the one who was ready to launch into the great big world (finally) had the biggest seizure yet. It's been almost a full year since her last seizure. We thought we had figured out the exact right dose of medication. But I guess not. On her last day of visiting in Houston her body gave in to a break through seizure.

Now we're back to seeing specialists, running tests, figuring out what this means to her plans to move, and helping her just recover from a pretty violent attack on her body. Today she feels like she's been hit head on by a Mack truck. My girl is not at peace so her mama cannot find peace either.

Which I guess is why that moment I captured while driving to Colorado Springs is so much more poignant. The task of raising teens and young adults is a tough one. So many things can go wrong, things that affect every day of their futures. With health issues thrown in the mix, things just get more complicated and heart wrenching. For that hour and a half, even for most of that day, when I was surrounded by these people I love, and everyone was happy, I'm glad I took the time to treasure it. 

Because it all can change in the blink of an eye.

1 comment:

Katrina said...

Judy, You've captured all that I think about every day. The blessings and the awareness that life can turn on a time. Which only makes the blessings all that much more worthy of our gratitude. A moment's contentment, an hour, a day: that's a gift indeed. Wishing you and your dear ones well as you work your way through the challenges.