I realized the other day that right now I am living the best years of my life.
Of course, being only 42 years old, I hope to have many great years ahead of me.....years potentially filled with travel and grandchildren and sitting on the porch looking back over old scrapbooks (of course, this would mean I need to get a porch. And take up scrapbooking again). But right now, I truly feel these are the days.
Mostly this is because of my kids. For my first two years of motherhood, when it was just me and my son, D, I was in bliss all the time. D and I had a 2-year long "babymoon" in which every day I fell deeper and deeper in love with him. I loved his infant stage, and was so happy being a mother. Of course, soon he hit the terrible twos---and threes--and fours, etc--and while I still loved being with him, parenting got that much harder and frustrating.
When A was born 2 years later, all things went to hell. Not to diminish my love for her, because I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her, but the first several years of having her were tough. Dealing with hospitalizations, a feeding tube, a breathing tube, and above all the fear of the unknown....it was hard, to say the least. All the things we had to be careful of---don't get water near her tracheostomy, avoid the beach and sandboxes, just to name a few--put a damper on what we were able to do. Heck, she didn't even sit up unassisted until she was over a year old, let alone walk until she was three and a half--those were tough years indeed.
Now, not only is she tube-free and walking and talking and about to enter kindergarten, but I feel like I've hit a sweet spot with the kids. Both are so fun to be with. They are at the perfect age and height for me to be able to take them to amusement parks by myself. A is tall enough to go on most rides at Legoland and SeaWorld, as long as I sit next to her, and D is tall enough to ride by himself. Before, we'd have to go to these places as a family, but this summer I've been able to go alone with the two of them.
Not only are they fun to be with together, but I love doing things one-on-one with them. D and I have been having dates over the past few years, seeing plays together at the local junior theater, going to a baseball game, even just getting ice-cream. A has become my Starbucks buddy, my shopping companion (when I go; I HATE shopping) and my go-to girlfriend to get a pedicure with. My husband, too, gets enjoyment out of doing things one-on-one with the kids--taking A to Costco (she loves to eat the samples) or building Legos with D, for example. We are soaking up our time with them. The best part is that while they are old enough to do fun things with, they are still young enough that they really need us. Both kids love to cuddle and kiss me. D still likes me to read to him every night, even though he is reading at a level many grades higher than he is.
Of course, things can still be hard. I will have on-going issues with A, especially now as related to her hearing and language and development. Likewise, parenting an active 8 year old boy has its own challenges. But I feel more ready to tackle these issues because they are not the overwhelming factor in my life, as they were years ago.
But these are my best years for other reasons as well.
On a personal level, I have never been so in shape. Not that I have a perfect body; far from it. But I have never, ever been so fit. Even when I did my full marathon, back in 2003, I wasn't this fit and healthy. I have reached a fitness level that I have always dreamed of---not just physically, but more mentally. I "get it" now, I get that I need to work out almost daily in order to be healthy and to keep my sanity.
Additionally, I have hit that stage in life that I don't care as much about what other people think. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't care at all; of course I do, to some extent. But I don't give other people's opinions about my life the same weight I used to. I don't try to impress people. I'm done with the cliques that I see even now as an adult. I don't get involved with the "high school drama" that I see other moms at the kids' school do. I'm over it. I have more important things going on in my life.
I have a great relationship with my husband, who really is my life partner and biggest cheerleader. I have amazing relationships with my family members. And I have just the right amount of friends in my life---lots of acquaintances, several friends, a few GOOD friends and one soul-mate best-friend-forever--that my support network is stable. I am throwing myself into ventures that are scary (training for my first half-Ironman, starting an educational foundation at my child's school, to name a few) and know that I will succeed just by trying.
I didn't have all of this in years past. In my twenties, I cared too much about what other people thought. During a big chunk of my thirties, I was neck-deep in medical issues with my family. But now? I feel life is, overall, great. Again, not everything is perfect, and I still have a lot of self-growth to do. But I am finally feeling like I am becoming the woman/mother/wife/friend I was destined to be.
I don't want to discount the challenges that I still face...life is not perfect, it's not easy, and I don't expect it ever will be. But I am grateful for how my life has shaped up to be so far, and I intend to soak it up to the fullest. I'm in the sweet spot, after all.