Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A letter to me, age 7

A few days ago, I watched a wonderfully charming film, With Love, From the Age of Reason (L'age de raison) during the Cleveland International Film Festival. The premise was intriguing and completely resonated with me: A woman, on her 40th birthday, began receiving letters from herself that she wrote at age 7. The first began like this:

Dear Me,

Today I am seven years old and I'm writing you this letter to help you remember the promises I made, and also to remind you of what I want to become.

So, today, on my birthday, I decided to write a letter to me, age 7:

Dear Me,

Today I am 41 years old and I'm writing you this letter to revisit the promises I made, and also to tell you of what I became.

Here are the things I had vowed to do that I did do:
-- I went to college (and graduate school).
-- I lived by myself (in an apartment seven blocks from the Pacific Ocean).
-- I became a writer.
-- I got married.
-- I became a mom.

Here are the things I didn't do:
-- I did not make an appearance on Sesame Street.
-- I did not become a kindergarten teacher.
-- I have not opened a combination boutique/bakery/bookstore.
-- I have not lived in a mansion I designed myself.

There is still a lot of time to do the things I've always wanted to do, although I sometimes find myself feeling overwhelmed in wanting to do many things at once. Sometimes I don't know where to start. I can't believe I ever felt one moment of being bored! I remember the "Things to Do on a Rainy Day" book I made when I was seven and contrast it with the ever-growing pile of to-do lists I keep today.

What keeps me busy? For the most part, it's my family, my friends, my work. I am a wife and mom, which I had always hoped to be. I love my family wholly and unquestionably; I feel so blessed by having so much love in my life. Marriage and parenthood are much, much more than I expected - more exasperating and more exhilarating. My husband is solid, brilliant, handsome, kind and fair. My sons - my sons, can you believe it? - are beautiful, hilarious, devious, fun-loving and sweet. My guys are everything to me. They deplete me and fill me up every day.

I'm not a perfect wife or mother. I am not as patient as I hoped I would be, I am more tired than I want to be. In second grade, I started a list of things to keep in mind when I became a mom. I was angry at my mother at the time, and wanted to be sure I didn't do any of the things she did that enraged me. Now that I'm a mom of two, I understand her a lot more now. People have asked me if I'd like to have more kids. I have all that I can handle.

As far as work goes, I didn't become a kindergarten teacher, although I do work in a higher education setting doing meaningful work that makes a positive difference in the world. I love being in a university environment working closely with amazing, accomplished people who are incredibly diverse, smart, curious, creative, thoughtful and funny. I feel blessed in being able to work with people I respect and admire.

I've learned that it's important to surround yourself with great people, no matter what age you are. My family and my friends support me, challenge me, protect and comfort me. They buoy me wherever I go, whatever I do. Being blanketed in this unconditional love gives me the emotional security to take risks, to try new things, to visit new places.

I'm middle-aged now, but I don't feel old. I have a fulfilling life that seems to keep getting better each year.

Happy birthday!