Flashback: Little blonde girl sits in her classroom listening to the day's menu on the morning announcements. This particular little girl was always quite confused by one particular lunch item: choiceoftwo. Yes, every morning the announcer would list the options: main meal, choiceoftwo, and milk.
As a card carrying member of the bring-your-own-lunch club, I distinctly remember wondering what that part of the meal looked like. I never saw anything unidentifiable on my friends' plates. Well, that may not be entirely true, but nothing that I could imagine being called choiceoftwo.
When I got older and bringing my lunch became so embarrassing, I finally figured it out: Everyone got to choose two of the three to five totally unappetizing options. No matter what I chose, I always wanted to try the other options. You know, just in case. Usually, if we wanted to take two tasty things and asked for an extra apple, the cafeteria manager would concede, but no one could try ALL the options: choice or two, you see.
Life may offer a variety of options that is more appealing than an elementary school lunch, but you certainly can't try them all. I find myself constantly reminding myself of this- you are currently reading exhibit A. As I see my friends develop rock solid careers, take awesome vacations, pursue higher education, etc. I feel like I’m missing something, which might be more appealing than what I’ve got.
How do you go through the lunch line of life and really, truly value what you have? I LOVE my life, really and truly. I am married to my best friend. I have a sweet daughter who teaches me more each day than I could ever teach her. I’m blessed with parents that are able and willing to spend their vacation time with us, a house that is a home, lifetime friends and new friends, and two adorable (if incestuous) dogs.
Why in the world am I still looking for that extra apple?
I, like many of us, was raised to believe that anything is possible; that you can have it all if you only work hard enough. While optimism is important, I'd like to take a second to call BS on that. I just don't think I can, or anyone can, for that matter.
I don't think I can work from home enough to take awesome trips and be as available as I want to be for Ely.
I don't think I can pursue an awesome career or even that master's degree, be available for Ely and have the energy left over to nurture my marriage.
I don't think I can nurture my marriage, pursue higher education, raise Ely, work from home (Gotta pay for that degree somehow!) and maintain my physical and mental health.
I hate to be a downer, but I don't think I'm the only one. Something has got to give and at this point, for me, it can't be time or energy spent on Ely or my marriage. This day of her childhood and our relationship are the only things that won't be on the menu tomorrow.
The bounty is plentiful and we can all choose a lot more than two options, but trying a little bit of all of them will leave us with a stomach/heart ache gets in the way of enjoying any of them.
Now, I’m scurrying off to be thankful that I was able to choose this life. Your choices might be different and equally fulfilling, but I think it’s worth recognizing that the position and ability to make these choices is worth being thankful for.
Please remind me of that next time I’m asking for an extra apple.