I stare at the email on the screen. It’s from an old, high-school friend. “Our ten-year reunion is just around the corner. Tell me about your kids . . . your life . . . and ideas for our get-together.” My fingers click on the keys as I type in my reply; “My kids are my life, seriously! Cory is in the 4th grade and loves chess and Legos. Leslie is my dramatic, little actress. Nathan, my baby, is four.” I stop typing and recall what I had heard about my fellow classmates: Julie is the manager of a large company. Ann a nurse. Veronica an electrical engineer. I do a little work at home, but how does typing on a peanut-butter-stained keyboard compare? Before I know what’s happening, “what-ifs” play through my mind. Lunch with coworkers . . . a closet full of designer clothes . . . business trips to exotic locations . . . Had I made the right choice?
I shake the thoughts of an exciting career from my head and scold myself. I didn’t get on opportunity to go off to college, but this was God’s choice for me . . . right?
I can’t deny having three children by twenty-two years of age wasn’t my childhood dream. Colic replaced college, pampering replaced partying, and Spring Break is now spent spring-cleaning. And unlike most of my twenty-something comrades (many of whom were still single) when I celebrated my twenty-fifth birthday, three small faces helped me blow out the candles.
Some days I wonder if I’m going to spend my whole life picking Cheerios from the carpet and playing Simon Says. Oh no, I remind myself, my life is filled with much more than that. For example there’s the storybook, A Day at the Zoo, that I read over and over . . . and my life’s crowning achievement, finding 101 ways to serve macaroni and cheese.
But isn’t that what motherhood’s about? Don’t all mothers face the same struggles? When I think about it, there really is no difference between other moms with school-aged kids and me . . . except about ten years.
Not that being a Generation-X mom doesn’t have its advantages, I think. I lean back in my computer chair and remember that just last week at Cory’s soccer game, I was mistaken for his sister—not that I minded, of course! I also think of the gathering a few years ago when my daughter let it slip that I was only 24. A friend raised his eyebrows and eyed my offspring. I could see his mind calculating a million-miles-a-minute. A soft “Hmmm” escaped his lips. I didn’t know whether to be horrified that he assumed I was older or pleased that he considered me “mature” for my age.
While the email still flashes on the computer screen, I grab a pencil and paper from my desk drawer and consider the benefits of having kids at such a young age. I list a few: 1) I’ll be thirty-nine when my youngest graduates from high school. 2) When my daughter is a teenager, she won’t be able to look in my closet and say that I have “old-fogies clothes.” And 3) If any of my children ever comment that I’m over-the-hill, I can retort, “Well, you’re not far behind!”
This makes me feel a little better. I decide to list some of my kids’ benefits too, 1) When I help Cory with his schoolwork I still remember how to do long division. 2) I adore the Sears Christmas catalog. 3) And, something really cool, my children have grandparents and great-grandparents. What a deal!
Perhaps in our house the generation gap is more like a generation hop-skip-and-a-jump, but I experience the same joy as mothers who actually get the “over thirty” car insurance discount. I too have a love/hate relationship with McDonald’s, and look forward to the thirty minutes of peace every day when Blues Clues comes on. I suppose what really matters is not the age of the mother; it’s the appreciation for the young lives we’re entrusted with.
“Dear Janie,” I write back to my friend. “I’d love to help with the reunion. I can give great insight into the ‘Family Day’ preparations. As for my life . . . it’s sometimes fun and sometimes frantic, my to-do list has more words than War and Peace, and I’m still sitting around in my p.j.’s while other ‘adults’ have left for work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way . . .”
I pause as I type those last words, letting them sink it. I realize they are truth. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And although this isn’t how I imagined life in my twenties, my dreams are not forgotten. I have three little dreams running around the house, trailing toys behind them. Big dreams tucked away in little bodies. I have Cory, Leslie, and Nathan . . . my choice. The right choice for me.