At this stage in our lives, that is extremely rare.
My sister recently told me that one of her friends had said, "Once the children move off to college and the dog dies, that's when life really begins!" That comment struck me as so hilariously funny because our lives currently revolve around our children and puppy. But today, it was a beautifully perfect near-summer day as we walked beneath the canopy of old shady maple trees and held hands, savoring every one of those blissful 180 minutes together.
As we were strolling along, Charlie asked me if I'd ever imagined what my life would have been like, if we'd never had children. I pondered his question for a moment, before responding...
I'd still be with my employer - but chances are, Charlie would be, too. Instead of striking it out on his own, I suspect he would have taken the job that they'd proposed to him a few years ago and we would have moved to Texas. I'd probably still be driving a convertible BMW although maybe a newer model, and Charlie would probably be driving the Porsche that he'd wanted for his 40th birthday. We would have traveled to several foreign countries and been certified in scuba. Chances are, we'd both be in better shape and I would have replaced my eye shadow a lot sooner. Our home probably wouldn't be styled in all earth tones. Why, we might have a white sofa.
And all white dining room chairs.
After less than two minutes of this discussion, our conversation quickly shifted to the gap we'd have in our lives if not for our children. The aching gap that we'd felt before our children arrived. Those many years ago, when we had fancy things and no one to think about - except ourselves.
It certainly was quieter, back then.
On that plane of existence, we lived large, we had lots of "me" time and dinners at upscale restaurants several times a week. On this plane of existence, our resources have been truncated and/or largely directed towards our four children and the only "me" time is when we're in the bathroom (and even that's not a guarantee...).
Tonight, Charlie made an amazing dinner. Shish-ka-bob chicken and vegetables that he'd grilled, after marinating for 24 hours. Portobello mushrooms sautéed with fresh herbs and garlic served over basmati rice with an endive salad. When we sat down to eat, the children burst in to tears. THIS WAS BEYOND TERRIBLE. Where were the tacos or fish sticks?
So we struck a deal: tomorrow night, the kids get to pick what we'll have for dinner.
Charlie and I looked at each other and smiled.
The hugs and joy that our little ones bring in to our lives more than offset the exhaustion we typically feel at the end of the day. On this plane of existence, we work and pray harder, think faster and love more deeply than we ever imagined possible. Our hearts are so full, it often feels like they'll burst. And when we look in to our children's vibrant eyes, we see a future far beyond our time on earth.
On this plane of existence, with our cluttered cars, chalk-colored home and hot dog dinners ... we know, without a doubt, that we are the richest and most privileged people alive.