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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Have Three Teenagers Now

Gone are the days when one Happy Meal could feed all three of them ... with leftovers. I now spend a great deal of time and a good chunk of my income at the grocery store. They eat like bears preparing for hibernation ... and they are never full.

Regardless of how often I shop, or how much I spend, according to them, there is never anything to eat at my house. That's not entirely true. There's plenty of food ... if I fix it ... because anything that can be eaten right out of the box disappears between the time I take it out of the sack and set it on the pantry shelf. They've never gone more than a few hours between feedings, but they attack food like newly-liberated POW's.

I should cook more. I used to cook more. In my defense, half the time I figure they won't eat if I do prepare something. By the time they get home from school, it's been two or three hours since they've last eaten ... so they're starving. They eat from the time they get home until I get home. Often, they'll be sitting at the table easting when they ask "What's for dinner?". They can't be hungry, can they? Between running them to karate lessons, theater practice, ball games, movies, work, and everything else that fill their lives, it's hard to find the time to cook a nice dinner, let alone vacuum.

Well, that's not entirely true, either, but I'd rather watch a test pattern on TV than vacuum. For those of you who don't know what a test pattern is, it's ... oh, never mind. It would take too long to explain ... and then you'd just laugh at me for being old and living in pre-cable days when all three of our television channels went off the air at or before midnight. 

Correction ... four. We had four channels if you counted PBS ... which we generally didn’t. The reception was so bad on PBS that the rabbit ears couldn't pick up a signal unless someone actually held onto them and became a human extension of the antennae. And that's only after you had to get up and walk across the room to even change the channel ... one channel at a time. Remote controls didn’t exist and there was no going straight from channel 14 to channel 25. You turned the knob to fifteen, then sixteen, and so on and so forth.

We were lucky ... we had a color television (Daddy wanted to watch the Wizard of Oz in color). Both the Wizard of Oz and Cinderella were highly anticipated events for kids of my generation ... falling in line after Christmas (toys), your birthday (the only other time of year your parents bought you toys), Halloween (free candy), and Easter (more free candy). 

The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella only came on once a year. Video tapes hadn't been invented yet, so you watched whatever movie the TV executives wanted you to watch. When the Wizard of Oz or Cinderella came on, my parents would let us have a whole coke. We got half a coke every Friday after Mama got home from the grocery store. But when the Wizard of Oz came on (in color at my house!), we got a whole coke. The challenge was trying to make it to the end of the movie before taking the final sip.

I guess I am old, but I prefer to think I'm not old, I'm simply older than I was. I don't really mind getting older, although I wouldn't mind having my flat stomach back, or having smooth, pretty skin once again. And it would be nice to color my hair because I want to rather than because I don't want to look like my Grandma. 

But I can honestly say I'm happier now. More content. A friend and I were discussing this not too long ago. Neither of us enjoyed ourselves like we should have when we were young.

I spent my youth (and by “youth”, I mean anything younger than 40) shy and insecure. I spent my youth being responsible ... too afraid to step out of my comfort zone ... too afraid of what people thought of me. I spent my youth afraid of making mistakes or looking silly. I spent my youth trying to find happiness by trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be ... somehow unaware of the fact that I couldn't be everything to everyone.

I pretty much wasted my youth. I didn't realize that in trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be, I was just making myself miserable. I didn't understand that if you aren’t happy with yourself ... if you don't like yourself ... you will never be happy.

It took over 40 years to realize the secret of true happiness is looking at what you have and accepting it as enough. It's coming to terms with your shortcomings, accepting them, and realizing everyone has problems of their own, skeletons in their closet, and demons they can't exorcise. The secret of happiness lies in not comparing yourself to others. As a wise preacher once said, "Contentment is ruined by comparison."

How true.

My life hasn't been the fairytale I dreamt of as a child. I've had to let go of some dreams, but I've replaced them with others. I've made some horrendous mistakes and I've paid the price. My life isn't perfect, but it's good. I have everything I need and a lot of what I want. It took a lot of pain and a lot of tears to reach this point, and though I wouldn't want to go through it all again, it's made me who I am. I'm not perfect, but who is? 

I am, however, hungry. I wonder if there's anything to eat here. 

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