My husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary this weekend (14 years, thank you very much. I am relatively sure there are people who attended our wedding who now owe us significant sums of cash, seeing as how we beat the over/under estimates on our relationship's duration...)
We had our usual dinner at this wonderful fondue place in Chicago called Geja's. We've anniversaried there since the first anniversary and it's always yummy. Our very awesome friends watched the kids for us, which amounted to a 22-hour playdate since the friends' kids are the same ages as ours. We stayed downtown at The Sutton Place, which was a lovely hotel and welcomed our furry four-footed friend (we don't have a simple way to handle overnights with the dog just yet, so for now she comes with us. Kind of silly, but it's also cute because people just fawn over her, she's pretty and unusual - most people haven't ever seen a whippet.)
The evening was lovely, the food excellent as always, drunk guy at the next table provided train-wreck style entertainment most of the evening, but I have this funk that I've been trying (and failing) to explain to my husband the last couple days.
I'm torn. I have such mixed feelings. I love love love downtown Chicago, with a passion I usually reserve for chocolate products. We used to live downtown.
I loved living in the city, but similar to the way a pet looks at you when "it's time" and you know it's time to let go, when it was time for us to let go and move out of the city I was ready. It was time. It had something to do with not wanting our children to ask what the drug dealers on the street were doing, not wanting to put up with the challenges of raising a family in the crowds and chaos of the city, but also being closer to family, being able to have room to stretch, grow, breathe, dig in the dirt, learn to ride bikes. Something more similar to what both my husband and I had growing up.
And truly, we live in an amazing house, on a big 'ol plot of land with trees and a swingset and a brick paver patio and a crazy amount of wildflowers. We're doing our part to reforest and reprairie this little patch of former farmland. I'm not complaining about what I have, but what I haven't.
We used to live downtown. Take the el everywhere. Eat out at non-chain restaurants on a regular basis. Meet friends for drinks on the spur of the moment. Bike to the lakefront. Get to be known at the neighborhood bar.
I don't miss being the young, childless person. That person isn't compatible with who I am now, but, well, yeah, I kind of miss being that childless person. It's a weird ache. A pining that makes no sense, because I really am content with my role as mom, and recognize already that as the kids grow up I am free to pursue and extend myself in ways I might not have anticipated (case in point, I didn't even know I wanted to BE a writer until the youngest was three, but now I can't really imagine a lot of other futures for me that don't include writing.)
I know that this is just a period of time in my life. A waystation, a passing moment. This period of time where the primary thought that occupies most of my day is related to two small people who still rely on me for most things.
At the moment, though, this is my life. Some days it's hard to remember it won't always be this way.
And I wonder about that young, childless person. That idiotic girl. She was fun, but driven. She designed these great learning systems. Other people wanted to talk to her because she knew that style of design and was good at it. She had expertise.
Sure, I have quite a lot of expertise in many areas now - lego de-connecting and board-game-instruction-interpreting not the least of my newfound skills. I do a lot of grown-upish things now, too (breastfeeding counseling, working with the PA at the kids' school, other volunteer work, and paid contract work, too.)
But after a night downtown seeing all kinds of people who seem so much more fabulous than me, who seem occupied with things beyond legos and board games...I wonder, is this all I'm known for? Is it enough?