As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the only times I ever stopped planning and preparing for my life were when I was enjoying life so much already that it never occurred to me to do so.
Every time things became mundane again, I went back to planning and preparation mode. I focused on the future.
In my 20s, a number of things happened that I never could have predicted, and inevitably, threw a wrench in my long-term this is how my life should pan out plan.
And then, at 30 years old, I found out I was pregnant. And I don’t know about you, but for me, nothing else made me reflect on life so much as this.
I don’t think about this child’s future in terms of success or possible achievements.
Instead, I ponder this child’s life in terms of what I think will allow him or her to embrace and enjoy life to the fullest extent at any given time. I don’t think about college funds—I think about music, books, and family vacations.
I think about love and grief.
I think about this child knowing the comfort of running around barefoot outside.
I think about waking this child up in the middle of the night to listen to old vinyl albums and dance with me—the way my own mom did with us. I think about him or her knowing the words to all the raspy Janis Joplin songs, and pausing to breathe in the beautiful sound of Bob Dylan’s harmonica.
I think about making sure we prioritize family vacations, no matter what our financial situation looks like. And I wonder if he or she will pretend to be grossed out, while secretly loving every time my husband and I kiss as we drive across a state border.
I think about this child and wonder if they will embrace nature, in all its beautiful, intimidating glory. I hope he or she will love to tent camp, even though the sides of the tent are always wet with dew in the morning…and if you sleep too close, you are too.
I think about this child and pray they love a dog so much it hurts, and that that dog sleeps curled up next to this child every night.
I think about this child on roller-coaster rides, and I hope he or she raises their arms and has a stronger stomach than mine.
I think about books and the way they have impacted my own life, and I hope this child finds a book it loves so much that it mourns the characters and story at the end.
I think about this child in terms of holidays and traditions, and I pray he or she feels the magic without focusing so much on the material things. But I also hope this child wakes us up first thing in the morning, unable to contain their excitement, waiting to see what surprises are under the tree.
I think about this child as a teenager, and I hope he or she has just enough of a free spirit to sneak out and go skinny dipping in the neighborhood lake…feeling both free and freezing at the same time.
I think about this child falling in love, and I pray that when it happens, it’s a connection they can’t put into words. I hope they laugh when they fumble and hit foreheads or smash noses during a first kiss. I hope they let go when it doesn’t feel right anymore, and that they hold on for dear life when they know it’s real.
I think about this child that I have yet to meet, and I hope that as they grow up and things get too serious, when it stops being fun, that he or she is brave enough to change things up.
I pray this child never gets caught up in achievements or plans…that he or she doesn’t spend a lifetime planning for college and career, but instead, finds the beauty in the unpredictable, awkward, gut-wrenching, hilarious, ironic, and bittersweet ride that everyday life is.
I think about this child, and I pray he or she always says yes to muddy feet, puppy kisses, and each adventure that presents itself.