Today, I found myself living a cliche…or at least as close to a cliche as our lives allow.
David’s been gone for 7 days on a business trip. Now, he’s a youth pastor, so his version of a business trip is taking 62 high school students to Jamaica to help orphanages and schools. Think fewer steak dinners and Powerpoint presentations and more “holding kids’ lives in your hands” and power tools, and you get the picture…but still. Husband on business trip.
Meanwhile, I’ve been the wife and mom at home, balancing the weight of the household on my fragile shoulders (or whatever,) ready for my husband to return so things like “mowing the lawn” and “taking a shower without feeling like a child-neglecting monster” can occur.
Naturally, if we’re going to truly live up this cliche, I HAD to make cookies during Zoe’s naptime to welcome him home. I mean, I’m a stay-at-home mom and wife. There are STANDARDS, people.
And so I whipped out my cookbook, preheated my oven, and got baking. It was a vegan recipe, but other than that, pure cliche.
Right about the time I found myself running an extension cord outside so that I could use my hand mixer without waking Zoe up, I had to laugh out loud.
This is my life. This crazy person baking cookies half indoors, half outdoors to celebrate her husband’s return while her baby naps is…me.
At one point in my life, I had dreams.
They did not include being a stay-at-home mom.
They did not include being married at 22.
I wanted to live alone in a big city until I was 28, then maybe get married. Maybe.
Definitely not to a youth pastor, though.
I wanted a high-powered career.
I wanted to be the one on business trips, not the one waiting at home baking cookies.
I would have viewed today’s scene as the ultimate failure, a waste of my potential, the collapse of my dreams.
But you know what?
This afternoon as I splattered cookie dough on my door frame and washed bottles and fed my daughter sweet potatoes and wiped away baby tears and sang “The Wheels on the Bus” and and waited for David to get home, I didn’t feel like a failure. I felt like a happy, whole person. I didn’t feel like a person whose dreams were UTTERLY DESTROYED. I felt like a person whose dreams had surprised her and then come true.
I think the one of the worst things we can do as humans is to limit ourselves and our journey to a predetermined path.
It’s natural and good to set goals and create a vision of our future. But every day we experience unexpected circumstances—things we never could have predicted when we sketched out our futures.
If we refuse to let those experiences shape us, if we refuse to let our ideas and visions change, if we refuse to let ourselves be surprised by unwitting passions and preferences…we refuse to let ourselves grow. We go through life unfeeling, untouched. We leave less of a mark on the world because we don’t let it leave a mark on US. And THAT’S a waste of potential.
Allow your dreams to grow, change, and seemingly even shrink if you’re doing what makes you happy. Allow yourself to think bigger than whatever future you’re pigeonholed yourself into. Allow yourself to be surprised.
And if cliches make you happy…let yourself live them up. It’s your life. ENJOY IT.
“But it would be a dry kind of perfection that made no allowance for some flexibility, for the possibility of local re-arrangements within the overall structure–perhaps following the cycle of the seasons, or perhaps to accommodate changing preferences.” –Michael Balston in his book “The Well Furnished Garden”