I ventured out shopping the other day, something I rarely do for pleasure anymore due to my busy schedule, and I stopped by two old favorites, Michaels and TJ Maxx. I wrapped up my time at Michaels fairly quickly as I spotted the ceramic flower pots I required, purchased them, and headed out the door. I then crossed the highway to one of my favorite stores, TJ Maxx.
I slowly perused the aisles looking for unique and comfortable business apparel for a few upcoming speaking events and fully enjoyed the peaceful moment. As I sauntered up and down, gently touching potential purchases, I noticed the younger moms with their children; perhaps children who were too young for school or maybe homeschooled. I glanced their way, occasionally meeting the eyes of a toddler and warmly smiled as I was transported back twenty years to my carefree days as a young mom with two-year-old Caleb sitting in a shopping cart while I waddled about, pregnant with his brother Lucas.
That was such a simple, joyful time – the year after having Caleb and the months prior to discovering that his brother had experienced a stroke in utero – the time before I lost my innocence forever. The time consisted of keeping my children entertained, happy, fed, and making sure I always remembered to clip the 40% off one item coupon for Michaels from each and every Sunday paper. That habit led to a memorable weekly moment, the following day, when I drove to Michaels with young Caleb to purchase one more silk flower to be incorporated into the front door wreath I was creating for our double-wide home.
Money was scarce, and I did everything in my power to pinch pennies, but I was still a young wife and mom who desired to create a beautiful, welcoming home for my growing family.
That was mostly my purpose twenty years ago.
Being a mom, clipping coupons, making a whole chicken last for four meals with enchiladas, pasta, casseroles, and pizza toppings, bundling up Caleb at night with his “monkey suit” – footed pj’s, and gobs of blankets to keep him warm as I turned the thermostat down a few degrees in an effort to save a few bucks, and, of course, pursuing the aisles of stores like TJ Maxx and Michaels looking for the best deals.
Those were the good ole’ days in many ways. Less stress, worries, advocacy work, and more love, presence, and peace.
I don’t worry about coupons or prices all that much anymore. I’ve “made it” in terms of purpose and financial stability, but yet…
Yet I find myself envying the young moms as they count the change in their wallets, making sure they stick to their tight budgets. I envy the simplicity of my purpose from twenty years ago, which included the purchase of one more beautiful silk flower for my wreath.
It took eight weeks to finish the wreath that moved with me many times as life progressed. It moved from the doublewide to the apartment where we would hear the devastating news about Lucas, to our new home that we brought Lucas home to, and to my next home with Ryan after Jason died. That wreath has hung on numerous doors and served as a reminder to stay present, stay grounded, and pursue simplicity and joy.
I no longer have the wreath. Once we moved to Tennessee, a strong gust of wind blew it off our front door, and I later found it mangled and ruined beyond repair. As much as it served as a reminder to pursue simplicity and joy, its final demise also taught a poignant truth.
I wish we could know that we are in the good ole days when we are in them, but that’s not how life works. I believe we do become more aware as we age that the sands of time are dwindling, and when those early, blissful, innocent moments of our lives become simply a breath. A beautiful memory that makes up the tapestry of this thing called life, and all we can do is use those memories to value the present gift of time.
Just keep livin.
“Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.” Psalm 144:4