One day this week, I got dressed in an outfit I thought we would be equal parts comfortable and hip: slouchy turtleneck sweater, skinny cords, metallic ballet flats. I added a necklace (long and skinny to balance the oversized sweater) and a puffy vest (because it’s winter and it was cold outside) and left the house to run errands.
At some point in my meanderings through Target, I caught sight of myself in a mirror and realized that I looked like a middle aged housewife. And I started to feel a little depressed, until I remembered that I actually am a middle aged housewife.
And then I was even more depressed.
In lots of ways, my life has not turned out the way I imagined it would when I was 20. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; my 20-year-old self was fairly clueless and completely impractical. She liked to imagine that she would live in a city and ride the train to work and wear heels and sleek skirts every day. Instead, I drive an SUV and wear flats and work at home because that gives me the flexibility to deal with any emergencies that might come up with the kids.
That’s not at all what I thought life in my 40s would be like. But to say that my life has turned out differently than what I imagined is not the same as saying that it has turned out badly. At all.
In some ways, my life is exactly how I envisioned it. For one thing, I am happily married; for another, we are financially stable. And I have two delightful children.
In my 20s, I expected to have all of those things some day. But I never imagined children like mine. I don’t know how I could have.
Charlie is precisely the kid I was anticipating when I thought about raising sons. He is so much like my brother that it’s eerie — the same hilarious personality, the same deep love of sports, the same gangly frame. I know exactly how to interact with him, because it’s like traveling back to my own childhood, to the first little boy I ever knew and loved. And while I won’t say that parenting him is easy, it is certainly predictable.
At least as much as parenting can ever be.
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