The myth of “when” | lessons and reflections from week in the life

September 18th, 2013 Posted by Connection, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “The myth of “when” | lessons and reflections from week in the life”
evening sky

evening sky

Last week as I was making my bed, a ritual I perform everyday, it dawned on me.  This is my life.

This is my real life.

I have this tendency to believe my life will start when ___.

When my kids are in elementary school.

When we have the perfect home.

When we have the kid’s college plans completely stocked.

When I’m in the most perfect shape and condition.

When we complete our to-do list.

When I finally get all the wash put away.

When I have my life completely figured out.

When, when, when.

ready for Costco!

ready for Costco!

I realized when has been my constant refrain, the chorus I sing to myself when I’m frustrated with the pace of life and don’t know what to do with myself.  When, when, when.

But, the trouble with when is, it’s inherently futuristic.  It’s that place I’ll never actually reach.  And if you’re keeping track of all my “whens,” you’ll see that most of them are flat out impossible.

I’m pretty sure I’ll never actually catch up on the  laundry at the rate at which my family continues to demand clean clothes.

When is my enemy.

Back in college, I decided that my life would begin, truly, really, begin when I had the perfect full time job.  After college I had some jobs.  Most of which were full time.  But none of which I loved.

And then I got married.  So, then, of course, my life could begin.

But we were living in a rented condo, so clearly that was faux life.  Real life begins at ownership.

So then we bought a house.  And got a dog!

Clearly, now my life can begin.

But, well, wait.  My life can’t really begin until I have a child.

Or maybe it begins when I have another child.

Hmm…these small people take up a lot of time.  Maybe my life can begin after they go to school for eight hours a day, so I can think my own thoughts.

made bed = :)

made bed = 🙂

And realizing that I had to wait until all my kids were in elementary school for my life to begin made me pretty darn sad as I pulled the sheets into place and arranged the pillows on our Queen sized bed (real life doesn’t begin until you have a King sized bed).  It made me wonder what my time is all about now.

That’s when I realized that this moment, this exact moment as I made the bed and let Kate arrange the pillows was my real, actual life, unfolding before my unseeing eyes.  That waiting for when is wrong.  That it’s not so much about “living in the moment” as it’s about accepting that my life is happening now, regardless of my circumstance.  And, sure, I can wait for when.  But I’m beginning to think there is no when.

There’s just now.

Miss "my arms are too tired" to clean up

Miss “my arms are too tired” to clean up

As I put together my week in the life posts, I thought, man, my life is boring!  I do all the same stuff.  Drink my morning coffee, make the beds, clean up, make meals, laundry (seriously, family, stop making dirty clothes!), shopping, kissing, hugging, laughing, disciplining, errands, driving around, pumping gas, talking on the phone with my mom, texting with my sister, exercising, bathing babies, paying bills.

But, you know what?  I start to tear up when I think about that list of things I do and when I flip through the pictures of Dan bathing Michael and Kate in her Snow White costume.  Not because I feel I should cherish those moments before my kids grow older.  Because raising this young family is hard work.

I tear up because I realized that when is now.  That I don’t have to wait any more because my blessings are right here for the taking.

  • Lauren M

    Oh I love this post – thank you for this reminder – there is no when only now!

  • Michele Holcomb

    My daughter (she’s 11) also says her arms are too tired to clean:) Wonderful post! I say a lot of these same things too.

    • Ha, I’m not sure why her arms don’t hurt at school (where she loves to help out), but at home it’s a different story! Thanks for your comment – I appreciate it 🙂

  • Sue C

    I too lived with the “when” but I am here to tell you that there is no longer a when. I am a retired school teacher and finally my when is now. I am completely in charge of my life and I don’t have to wait for the “when”. I am loving it!

    • Awesome, Sue! I’m glad you’re enjoying “now” 🙂

Hi! I’m Sarah, I am passionate about creating community, building deep connections, and the power of creativity. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, our three kids, and our golden-lab mix.

I believe in leggings as pants, and I drink my coffee black. I love shopping at Costco, teaching group exercise classes, and, athleisure.

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sarah@bagley.org