When I was six, I never imagined my life would be, well, anything close to the way it’s turned out at age 41. I always pictured myself in a city or suburbs, dressing stylishly, loving life and being effortlessly happy in my work. I seem to recall wishing to be either a waitress or a scientist when I grew up and they were both equally enchanting. One with an apron, meeting and helping others ceaselessly and the other in a white coat and goggles, making discoveries and saving the world! I didn’t once picture myself teaching Spanish, standing in front of a room full of kids who felt like they were in prison, while I passionately and somewhat foolishly tried to impart on them all the reasons they should try harder and care more.
I also never imagined I’d live on a dirt road in a state that makes commuting its favorite sport. To run to the grocery store means a thirty minute drive. To get a pizza, the nearest bet is a gas station. “Mud season” is a real and when the temperature hits freezing watch out- that dirt road will ice over more than a paved one. Vermont is a state of tradition and dirt is one we love.
Did I mention that my mother in law lives across the street? Let me say that again: My MOTHER IN LAW LIVES ACROSS THE STREET!!!! If you had told me when I was twenty-five that I would end up married and on a dirt road across the street from my mother-in-law, I would have cackled and cried “Never!” But she’s ever so bright. While dating, she never once imposed or showed up at my husband’s house unannounced. We went weeks without interacting. She was pleasant and mindful of our privacy. Fast-forward to kids being born and now weekly visits are a given- and if it doesn’t happen then something must be wrong. She loves giving my kids all the things I want to avoid- sugar, juice, more sugar, more juice, video games, Barbies, make-up, movies, swear words, wrestling lessons, standing on furniture, sneaking food and the list goes on. Her hidden agenda is for them to know that grandma’s house is the place to have fun. Her peanut butter sandwiches (made with Jiffy and hydrogenated oils) are better than mine. Her mac and cheese (made with Velveeta which is really left over food colored milk product) is the only kind my one daughter will eat. And a catalog of toys is often on display on the kitchen table at her house next to the candy dish just to keep the kids enticed. If I say no to any of it, I am of course the enemy, feeding into her plan to have the kids like her more and me less. In spite of it all, I know how much the girls mean to her, and her need to also have me support her as a grandmother. She has a big heart even if her actions sometimes misalign with my values.
I always imagined my future house being small and cozy. Perhaps brick on the outside, a small patio with flowers and a white kitchen filled with sunlight. Easy to clean, a sanctuary really. As life turned out my house is huge! And beautiful! I married a pipefitter so construction is his forte. He also has great taste. A living room with cathedral ceilings. Real tile and nice wood floors. It does have a nature theme and some sunlight. There are three dear-heads on the walls- (did I mention my husband is a hunter?) and a fish. Not quite the white I imagined but -aside from having to clean the four bathrooms and vacuum- I can’t really complain. There’s even a wrap-around deck with a breeze to keep the mosquitoes at bay. And a crab-apple tree that might even be 100 years old.
My final amazing surprise of my life was my identical six year old twin daughters, Autumn and Briana. Blonde hair, blue eyes and big smiles, they are the loves of my life. My heart beats fast thinking about them and I can’t help grinning whenever I am coming home to them. Most of the time when I am with them, I am disciplining, hollaring or lecturing, but once in a rare moment we do art projects, read, play games, go for runs and snuggle. And those are the moments which stick with me. They have big hearts. They are emerging readers. They are strong females and amazing artists. And though life is far from how I imagined it, I am blessed beyond words.
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