Over the past couple of days, I've really noticed how I've been appreciating the simple pleasures in life that I often take for granted.
Sitting on the patio watching the rain.
Writing my blog on the patio with a nice cup of coffee.
Reading a book for fun.
Lounging by the pool.
Watching the kids swim around in the pool.
Laying on the couch and watching a show on Netflix I've been waiting months to see.
Going grocery shopping at 8:30 in the morning on a Wednesday.
Having the time to take my car in to get a slow leak fixed in my tire.
Little things that between the months of August and May, rarely happen. How I quickly forget the pleasure that can come from the simplest of actions. My life is constantly on the go, and it has been so unbelievably amazing to just stop for a few days and take in life's simple pleasures that often get away from us, or that we don't really have time to think about as even being "pleasures".
As I was driving home this morning, after dropping the kids off at summer school, it dawned on me how much I have been basking in these small moments. Take a second to check my Facebook feed and you'll notice I've mentioned them quite a bit these past few days. I've shared them because they are a big deal to me. Others might look at them and think "Big whoop, you did your grocery shopping on a weekday, so what?" But those people have no idea.
Up until a week ago, I was lucky to be home by dark. Most nights it was closer to 10PM, and then I was up and out again the next morning as the sun was coming up. I was working. Then, after work, it was off to whoever's ball game or games we had to attend. We were lucky if we had time to stop off for a bite to eat in between, but mostly relied on grabbing a burger from the concession stand. I drug in three extremely tired children each night, forced them to bathe before they scrambled in to bed, completely exhausted from their day. And, then I was able to feel the sweet release of slumber and hope that I was rested enough to do it all over again the following day. On the rare few days I did manage to make it home while it was still light outside, I had to try and get some laundry done, or had something I had to get done for work, or I needed to work on paperwork for graduate school. There was just no time for me-time or down time or time to just sit and smell the roses.
It was go, go, go until we passed out. Then, rinse and repeat.
So, it's no surprise that now that I've been off work for 4 days, I've really taken in the gloriousness that comes from a few days of having nothing to do BUT enjoy the sweet quiet and relaxation.
The kids are in summer school during the day, which means I'm still getting up around 6AM so that I can drive them. But, the drive home is slower. More relaxed. Calming. I've thought about what to write in my blog posts, I've thought about books that I'm going to start reading, and I've thought about what little moments I'm going to cherish.
But, it wasn't until this morning, when I REALLY stopped to think about my current pleasures when I realized just how important ALL of the moments in my life are. The crazy ones. The sad ones. The happy ones. The busy ones. The quiet ones. The simple ones. And the pretty darn huge.
Things that I can truly enjoy and appreciate now have come to me through hard work and determination. I am able to express appreciation for everything I have and everything I do because of the journey I've taken to get me here.
My life hasn't always been this amazing bed of roses, and how quickly I often forget that.
In 2000, just 14 years ago, I was eighteen years old taking care of a baby just a few months old. I was young, scared, and really thought I was in for one very long, tough life. I stayed with a man that was absolutely toxic for me, and not only that but ended up falling pregnant again and having another baby less than a year after my first.
In 2001, I was nineteen and a mother to two very small children. I continued to allow myself to stay in a toxic life situation that broke my very core, because who else would want a person in my situation? Thankfully, I was able to find a person that would convince me that I was better off alone than in the clutches of the evil I was living with. But it required finding a strength I never knew I had, living in a homeless shelter long enough to get on my feet, and fighting tooth and nail to provide some kind of life for my small children.
It took me almost four years to rebuild myself up from the damage that had been done by my previous relationship. I didn't trust anyone but myself, and cared for no one but my kids. Then, towards the end of 2004, I met a man that I could learn to trust, learn to love, and finally start help me understand what happiness was.
Yet, in the ten years since then, our life hasn't been easy.
We lived in tiny apartment, worked all hours we could, and still had juggle our bills around each month so that there was food on the table. But, we never gave up. Never stopped trying. And eventually, we were in a position where we could move in to a bigger house. The house wasn't what I would consider a "dream home" but it gave us more space. And, after seriously crunching some numbers, we decided if I was ever going to go to college, it would have to be then. Sure, we had to accept a lot of handouts in the form of grants, loans, and public assistance, but we had the future in mind. It was either do what we could and make our future brighter, or continue to live paycheck to paycheck in our hum-drum life.
The four years I was going to school were extremely hard. Throw in the fact that I also fell pregnant, again, during my first year of school so I added taking care of a newborn to the mix. If I wasn't in class I was studying. If I wasn't studying, I was working. If I wasn't working, in class, or studying, I was trying to spend some quality time with my kids. There wasn't near as much time for that, and I'll never get back any of those "small moments" that I missed out on during those years. I don't know how many times I sat up in the middle of the night, feeding Jelly, and reading her the papers I had written for school.
Every second that I get to sit here on my patio and cherish these small moments of pleasure came about because of all that I endured. All that I went through. All that I fought to get.
I now sit on the patio of my dream home.
I now bask in every crazy minute of running here, there, and everywhere for ball games and after-school activities, and dropping kids off at friends' houses or summer programs.
I now have the ability to stop. Think. And be thankful.
I've heard people talk about their "bucket lists" for things they'd like to do before they die. And, honestly, if I think about such a thing I think about how far I've come, how much I've achieved, and how happy I am. Right now. This second.
Fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher? CHECK!
Find the man of my dreams? CHECK!
Have a family? CHECK!! (I won the lottery when it came to the kids I was blessed with)
Buy our dream home? CHECK!
Be there when my kids need me, and attend all of their school functions? CHECK!! (Still in the process of, and plan for this to continue)
Do you want to know what's left on my bucket list?
Go to graduate school. (Starting in the fall)
Watch my kids grow up to be the amazing adults they are destined to be.
Be a grandmother.
Enjoy being a grandmother as much as I love being a mother.
That's it. Simple.
I don't need any exotic locations or any death defying feats on the list.
I have no idea what the future holds for me. I have no idea how much time I have left on this earth or how many amazing events that will come my way. But, what I have learned is that I can't take anything for granted. I have to live in the moment, enjoy it all. The big, small, giant, and tiny.
Life is a gift.
I want to know that when my time is up, I've got every bit of use out of it that I can. No regrets. No would-of, should-of, or could-of.
Cause, really, who would rather have the alternatives? Not me.