How to Have It All

I am rewatching one of my favorite television shows, Parenthood, for the third time. I don’t remember the last time I watched it, but I do know that didn’t have any kids and I wasn’t married then.  

This time, it was a reality check to learn in the first episode that one of the main characters, Sarah, is the age I am right now. When I watched the show the first time around, I saw the characters as adults who had their lives – for the most part – together while dealing with grown-up problems. They weren’t perfect, but they were confident and people who I wanted to be like when I was older.

My younger self expected things would be really different for me today. Nearing the end of my 30s, I imagined I would be an adult by now. Sure and full of answers, I wouldn’t second guess myself or most of my decisions. I would be successful in a career and in my family. I would have … it all.

I now know understand that “it all” as just an advertising campaign.  

My view of what life should be is so much different than what it was before my kids were born. Then I was living in a real-life Super Mario video game where I raced through the day jumping for money and looking for energy boosters in order to be successful at home and at work. I had a to-do list and nearly every day, I crossed everything off of it.

But after doing two years of hard time in Ellie Honaker’s Special Needs and Medically Fragile Children Program for Wayward Parents, I learned that perfection is an illusion and that you can’t just achieve your way out of every situation.

I admit it. I am first to roll my eyes when I hear a parent of a kid with special needs say something like, “This child is the best thing that ever happened to me.” The places that my little girl has taken my mind, body and soul are not places you would ever choose to go in search of enlightenment.

However, I do get their point. Who I was before her is nowhere near who I am now. The things I value are completely different, the way I choose to spend my time is different and the way I see my life’s purpose is different. Living life next to her forced me to change. Change is hard, but living through change is worth it.

The past four months of COVID-19, political polarization and racial unrest have created much uncertainty, education and chaos for me and have put a magnifying glass on my latest understanding of “having it all.”

This time has been like a lens that has helped me examine more closely the things I believe are important or what I am willing to allow in my home and in my life. Four months is a long time for that lens to direct so much heat, and it started a fire underneath to the normal that I had gotten comfortable in.

I complained about Ellie to Ben last night.

“She just focuses in on the smallest things and she lets them slow her down or distract her,” I told him.

“She doesn’t care about what you care about, Heather. She’s paying attention to what she cares about; it’s not distracting her. She already knows what is important to her,” he said.

About 30 seconds after this picture was taken, Jack dropped his popsicle on the ground. He was sad about it. Without giving it a second thought, Ellie scooted over and held her’s out to share with him.

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