I have these moments when something happens and it hits me that this is something that I want to write about. The children joke with me and say that when I have those “lightbulb” moments, they know that they are in for a “life lesson” speech.
The other night I had one of my “lightbulb” moments. We had gone out to dinner and I had placed my order with the waiter asking for the entrée to be prepared medium. When my order arrived, I swear I think the meat was still moving. I sent it back asking the waiter to please be sure it came back cooked as I had ordered. Of course my children were mortified that I would complain to the cute waiter, but it had been a long day and I was in the mindset that I should get something I ordered way that I asked for it.
He brought my plate back and let me assure you, there was no denying that the meat was now cooked. It was to the point of being overcooked. I was about to send it back again when my “lightbulb” moment happened. As I was looking at the plate and my mind started churning, I heard one of the kids say, “uh-oh she’s having a deep thought.”
And yes, I was.
That plate with the overcooked meat actually made me smile. For some reason that plate of food that was not exactly what I had ordered made me reflect on my own life.
For my own life, I had ordered a life filled with lots of happiness sprinkled with as little stress as possible. A life with Prince Charming who comes home every night to our nice home that is clean and beautifully decorated. I ordered a life with dream vacations and children that were always immaculately dressed and adoring of each other.
Guess what. Just like the plate that the waiter had placed before me which wasn’t exactly what I had ordered; my life in many aspects is not exactly what I ordered. I think that is probably true for most of us.
Did I dream of having children? Yes, and I have been more than blessed with the children that I have. I just didn’t imagine that they could be so smart and amazing one minute and in the next moment a toilet can overflow and they are all totally oblivious to it. Did I dream of getting a phone call from the school nurse that one of them had lice only to find myself spending weeks trying to get rid of those little critters? Nope, didn’t order that off the menu of life. Did I order a life where I would end up being a single mom who would drive 87 miles a day to get all of the kids to all of their activities, school and get myself to work? And I certainly didn’t place an order to do it each day in a minivan that has a hole in the radiator so that every time I get ready to start the never ending commute I have to be sure to pour water into the darn thing so it doesn’t blow up. But this is the reality of what my plate looks like. It is what has been placed before me.
Looking at the plate that the waiter had placed before me, I looked around the table at my children. They were all looking at me to see if I was going to call the cute waiter back over and complain again. But I didn’t. As silly as it sounds, I decided to eat what had been placed before me and share my lightbulb moment with my children.
When you realize that you didn’t get the life you ordered you have two choices, I told them. You can throw a fit, be angry and resentful that you didn’t get the life (or plate) you ordered. But always remember that it takes a lot of energy to walk around angry and resentful all the time because you didn’t get the life you ordered.
Your other choice is to accept what has been placed before you and find the good in it. It is not all perfect but there are some mighty good parts of it. You might even surprise yourself and find that it is even better than the life that you had ordered.
Share your “light bulb” moments with Blythe at firstname.lastname@example.org.