The good ol' days for me were the days that we lived in Show Low, Arizona. Real life, married with children was really beginning, and it was exciting. I had the best girlfriends ever--actually, we all still keep in touch in one way or another, and I found my very best friend there, but back then, things were different. We were all in the same ward, thanks to a fortuitous boundary change, that brought them all into my life. It was just about the time when I was learning to accept my new life in the rural mountain town we had moved to. So many great girls, all of us youngish moms, still building our families, decorating our homes, and learning about marriage. In ups and downs, we had each other. We had Girls Nights Out, we had group birthday lunches, game nights, and parties. Scrapbooking and stamping clubs, and serving in callings together. We would go camping as families, all of the men just as awesome as the ladies. Put the kids to bed and sit around the campfire telling secrets and busting a gut laughing. Trudging through rapids to get a bath--maybe Lori washing downstream with all of us laughing too hard to save her--having to attack wild cows with paint guns while they ate the food off of our children's plates unfazed.
Life was so simple back then. My homeschooling had begun with my two little children and I was in heaven. We were remodeling the old house we'd bought and planting a garden. Having another baby. Dance lessons, piano lessons, and cozy holidays. My mind filled with visions of someday having more babies, buying a house with enough land to have horses, a milk cow, chickens, a huge garden, and an orchard of sorts. I would keep on homeschooling, and send them off to college.
Life only turns out with fragments of what you hope for. They may be glittering, jewel-like fragments, but sometimes I long for the entirety of what I imagined, and feel a sense of sadness that the opportunity for some of my dreams has long since passed. I probably won't ever get to carry and hold my own baby again. That makes my heart ache. Even if circumstances were different, the realization that biologically I'm running out of time has started to occur to me and I hate it.
Now, that group of amazing friends lives scattered all over. We all have teenagers now. Some have missionaries, college students. Most have financial security, careers, own homes, go on vacations, have solid time-tested marriages. I feel like I fell off the conveyor belt somewhere along the way. I feel like I just can't get back on track. And I feel alone.
On my birthday last week, one of those old friends said, "Wish we could all go out to lunch to celebrate like we used to!" I had this flashback of those days. How we laughed! How we knew each other so well. Sometimes there were disagreements and hurt feelings, but we shared a loyalty and an in-this-togetherness that I have not experienced since then. It feels like everything in life is whizzing past me these days, and I'm spinning in a different orbit. Soon half of my children will be grown, and I feel like I have so little to show for my life.
Little kids. Big dreams. I miss those days.