So I'm back to tell myself, from today's vantage point, to believe it, baby.
I am fully enmeshed in this dream life I didn't even know I could wish for. Naturally, because it's me, my anxiety is sitting right next to me, leaning in to read my words and warning me that if I write about how happy I am, that happiness is automatically doomed to disappear.
But what's taken me so long to learn (what I'm still learning) is that happiness isn't solely dependent on circumstances. I'm not sure how my happiness would fare in the face of illness and death and despair, but does it help to worry about that right now? Or is it better to practice gratitude for all that's real and true? Whatever the vehicle for my current happiness is - luck, hard work, big choices, prioritizing, randomness - what matters is that it's here right now. And instead of caving to my anxiety, who's shaking its head and clucking that posting this is a karmic strike against me, I'm going to indulge in a little exercise.
According to my blog, here's how January 25, 2016, rolled along.
It was an unremarkable day, ordinary and pleasant - and completely unbelievable to me circa January 2015. I couldn't believe that I'd been hired as a writer, that I was running an Etsy shop, that my baby was such a kid, that life was so...easy. Not that it wasn't hard at times. I mentioned parenting issues, deep worries, ongoing grief. But my day-to-day existence was exactly what I always wanted. Not only was it not a constant, crushing struggle, but it was enjoyable. Easy.
And so I dared to dream some more. I dared to imagine what today would be like, January 25, 2017. Bear in mind that a lot of these bullets really felt a little silly - like, how could these things possibly become my life?
Here's what I dreamed, a year ago today, in comparison to how today actually went:
I wasn't that far off from what I predicted, right? I mean, aside from the whole "President Sanders" thing. Polar opposite on that one. Otherwise? Pregnant. Potty-trained preschooler. Pinching fewer pennies. Alone time with J.J.
It's everything I ever wanted. (Again, aside from the United States crumbling to its death under the weight of pipelines and walls.)
So...how about next year? January 2018? Care to dream?
- Your seven-month-old will wake up a little before 7:00, which is pretty typical. He mostly sleeps through the night, though not always. You'll snuggle in bed and nurse, which has been unbelievably easy this time around. Boob, bottle, breast milk, formula - he's not picky, just feed him. He won't wake up your four-year-old with his coos and giggles (seriously, happiest and most easygoing baby EVER), but your husband will wake her up anyway because it's a school day for her.
- You'll kiss your husband goodbye as he heads out for the job he still can't believe he gets to go to. It blew UP this past year, in the best way possible, and there's still so much more potential.
- You'll drop your daughter off at her beloved co-op preschool. You'll run a couple errands, and the baby will fall asleep in the car on the way back home. You'll bring his car seat inside and work on a few Etsy orders while he sleeps (or...you'll just nap, too. Either way).
- You'll manage to sync the baby's afternoon nap with Rowan's "rest time," where she sometimes sleeps but mostly just chills and looks at books. You'll just be glad for some non-contact time, so you'll catch up on Facebook and blogs for awhile.
- Grandma will take BOTH kids that afternoon, which is perfect because you'll have a consulting appointment at a child care center, which you'll be doing once or twice a week. Pennies are a wholllllllllle lot looser these days, which feels amazing.
- And you'll listen to an NPR segment about how President Pence's cabinet is shaping up as the nation tries to recover from the Trump debacle. [I mean, the thought of President Pence is scary, too, but not quite as terrifying as Trump already is.]
- At 8:45 that night, the kids will be asleep. You'll be relaxing with your husband, working on a blog post, and reflecting on how this entire day was last year's dream come true.
Instead of being scared to dream at all, now I'm wondering if I'm not dreaming big enough, if I'm not taking big enough leaps.
Maybe that's the best part of all of this - beyond the day-to-day happenings, I'm finding myself mostly in a state of equanimity. Which, by the way, is the opposite of anxiety, answering a question I posed awhile ago.
But more on that another time.