We went to Calaway Park yesterday, a local amusement park designed for young kids, and we had a wonderful time with our friends. The weather was a bit dicey, but it didn't stop us from doing rides, playing games, eating mini-melts ice cream and taking in a cheezy lunch time show at the outdoor stage.
Toward the end of the day, I went on the big swings with the two oldest girls while my friend took the younger kids on a smaller ride. I love the feeling of the swings rising and beginning their forward motion. It feels like I'm soaring, flying weightless through the air with no regard for gravity. I'm always giddy at the beginning of that ride as it feels like everything is possible in life.
While I was indulging in this happy feeling, I began to count my many blessings: healthy kids, satisfying marriage, lovely friends and family, the many material comforts we enjoy, and my burgeoning writing career. On the heels of this joy came a sneaking suspicion that the other shoe may drop and sweep my sure footing out from under me.
I know that there are no guarantees in life, and that not one of us can look around the corner and see what is coming at us. It's all an exercise in blind faith and optimism, getting out of bed each morning and hoping to escape tragedy and keep the scales balanced in favour of the good outweighing the terrible.
In my younger days, I saw myself as an optimistic person. As I age, I have accepted that this view of myself is tarnished at best and outright false at worst. I am more of a pessimist than an optimist. I can fall hard and fast from my perch of positivity into fear and panic at the possibility that something awful can happen. I'm never very comfortable when things are going too smoothly.
When I had a miscarriage between Ava and William, I thought, "Why me?" I realized, fairly quickly, that the answer was actually, "Why not me?" I was embarrassed to realize that I only expected good things to happen to me, and bad things to happen to other people, because that was the course of my life up to that point, but of course there is no logic in that line of thinking. No one deserves cancer, or children dying, or any horrible accident to befall them. I somehow felt that I could dodge tragedy, and the miscarriage was the first time a finger reached out and pointed to me.
Since then, my rose coloured glasses have been forever changed. I think anyone who is a parent loses a lot of their optimism, because all of life becomes infinitely more precious than it was before you had children. The stakes are so much higher for you and for the ones you love. Your life is no longer your own to live as you please. It belongs equally to your children, and you cannot afford to be as cavalier as you used to be.
I try to joke about William's curmudgeon attitude to most everything, but in reality it hurts a bit because I see that it came from me. I desperately want to view the glass as half full instead of half empty, but it's not easy for me. I want to think the best of people, not the worst, and I would prefer to hope instead of despair, but pessimism is more natural to me than optimism. Here is another goal to work on, slowly, on a day by day basis, and see if I can improve my outlook and learn to control my fear about all that I cannot foresee in this world we live in.