The sweet spot, with a side of ice cream

by Jennifer on September 26, 2008

Sometimes it’s in the way they look at me, and sometimes in what they say, but every so often I catch my kids trying to get the drop on what it’s like to be an adult.

“You get to stay up however late you want. It’s not fair.”

or “When I’m a grown up, I’ll drive my car to get ice cream whenever I want.”

Granted, those are two of the primo benefits of adulthood, along with control of the radio, giant coffee drinks and Showtime. Plus, at restaurants, you get to choose from a wine list. It’s not a bad gig.

I don’t remember much about what how I thought being a grownup might look, back when I was a kid. It seemed like hard work, and everyone seemed tired. Hmm. Check, and check. Maybe those two small observations weren’t so off after all.

Given the current economic conditions, any kind of philosophizing sounds self-indulgent and, boy, do I know it. All of us are taking a hit, and the more esoteric fancies are bound to take a way-back seat to the more pressing concerns of how to heat the house this winter or figuring out how a small word like bailout means something as big as we’re all screwed. (Oh, and you, too, kids. Sorry ’bout that.) None of us, when times are hard, should get to pretend that they’re not.

So we go on. What choice is there?

We eat, we work, we laugh, we drink. The lucky among us have someone we need, in our blood, someone whose voice is enough to bring us back from the edge. Someone whose tangle of legs in the morning makes the day bearable. Still others of us do what must be done, neither sad nor glad about it most of the time, deferring to the evenness of circumstance, even when it cuts in line ahead of love or passion so often that we forget to protest anymore. With so much to do, we hardly ever take a long look at who we love and why, or wonder if it’s all wrong or the truest thing. We need, we take what serves us, and we get on with it. We accept that not all of us are meant for the epic stories, for the soaring music at the end of a movie.

But sometimes, for no reason that makes any sense, we cry for what we’ve denied ourselves, for what has been denied us. For what we know is gone, and will stay gone. And then, because that’s what grownups do, we shake it off and give ourselves credit for hanging in there through the hard years. We take measure of our blessings, and call it enough – and it is, most of the time.

It’s tricky, finding the sweet spot between wanting more and knowing if it’s enough, between what is and what might be. But there’s not much wrong with trying, in whatever small and silly way, to build a satisfying pile of great moments, big enough to impress even the worst spell of trouble.

Someday my children will reach middle age, and I wonder what they will think of their lives, if they will escape the heaviness of disappointment over things they didn’t do or roads they didn’t take.

Or will they have learned, better than their mother, that it ain’t over ’til it’s over?

I really hope so.

And it’s so not over until someone goes for ice cream.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

natalie September 26, 2008 at 3:27 am

this is beautiful. so much so that i am going to link your post in my blog today. i haven’t been able to write lately…too much in my head, but this needs to be heard. perfect.

natalies last blog post..The moon over Europe – a week later.

Daryl September 26, 2008 at 5:48 am

May I have a double scoop of vanilla in a cup topped with blueberries … thanks, that’s my comfort food in times of stress …

Daryls last blog post..pimping for prizes

JCK September 26, 2008 at 5:58 am

Oh…so true. And can we truly love that sweet spot as much if we haven’t had the rough patches? I’m not sure we can. Great post, Jennifer!

RiverPoet September 26, 2008 at 6:02 am

I feel as though I just had coffee with you, and I love the new picture, by the way.

My entire plan for my life when I was a child was to reach age 18, get the hell out of my crazy home, and find out what else there was in life. I was too busy just surviving to think much about what privs I would have as an adult. I just knew that I wanted to live in a peaceful home. I have that.

And I have ice cream whenever I want it, unfortunately 🙂

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Self-Publishing

Denise September 26, 2008 at 6:19 am

“But there’s not much wrong with trying, in whatever small and silly way, to build a satisfying pile of great moments, big enough to impress even the worst spell of trouble.”

This is what gets me by.

Denises last blog post..TGIF!

Csquaredplus3 September 26, 2008 at 6:35 am

The red hair is fabulous! Motivates me to try a sprinkling of it…

The post – wonderful. Your kids are fortunate to have a parent who ponders these things.

Csquaredplus3s last blog post..Why are the Wal-Mart employees wearing latex gloves?

Reluctantfarmchik September 26, 2008 at 7:23 am

Again, your writing is so clear. And I think it’s wired in children (and adults) to wonder if there’s more, and what it is. I mean, if we fully achieved “it all” then where would that leave us? It’s like the vagabond. If he found the illusive place he’s looking for, he’d lose his identity. The searching is what makes him. And if I ever started LOVING farm work, then my title “reluctant” would have to change, as would a whole lot else about me (and I might have to start buying gym memberships – gasp!) Thanks for the pause. And for the perspective. You’re so fresh in your expressions. As for the hard times, there’s no denying that. My current favorite quote is something along the lines of: “We can’t solve our current problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.”
Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for visiting my blog this week.

Reluctantfarmchiks last blog post..Cloud Skywatch

we_be_toys September 26, 2008 at 8:45 am

Whe the heck did you get red hair? You’re like, all glam now!

I think we’ve gotten so used to having what we want, when we want it, that it’s going to be really hard if this country can’t pull itself out of another depression, and we actually have to settle for just the basics.

I was reading some interesting views on how we got into this pickle the other day, and one of the thrusts had to do with how the banking/lending institutions have whittled away all the controls set in place by FDR, to avoid this very thing. It isn’t the fool who bought too much house for his budget who’s to blame (much), it’s the lender who okayed a mortgage that had no business being okayed.

When we bought our house, in 1994, the amount of hoops we had to jump through was enormous. When Chanda bought a similar house in the early 2000s, she didn’t have to explain one thing about her credit history to her lender before she was given a mortgage. Not that she wasn’t careful to stay within her budget, she was, but it wasn’t without the realtor trying to push her into more house than she could reasonably afford. Where is the accountability for those people in this bailout we’re hearing about? Do you really think the whole world will crash if banks have to be accountable?

Sorry, I was on a rant, apparently. I’m going now, to sit in the corner, until I can think of something positive to say.

we_be_toyss last blog post..Meet My Hamster (aka, The Long Downward Spiral And It’s Wherefore)

Jenn @ Juggling Life September 26, 2008 at 10:15 am

Great new look!

It’s scary to contemplate the world we’re creating for our children, that’s for sure.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..Life Lessons

LiteralDan September 26, 2008 at 11:13 am

I’d give up my adult privileges to be 10 years old (or so) again, but maybe that’s because I had a great childhood.

However they figure this out, I just hope it ends up making things better instead of worse. I’m just glad they stopped the “give us the money and trust us to manage it better than we did all that other money” version of this ridiculous bail out.

Maybe take that money and pay the unfair part of people’s mortgages for them, with lots of strings attached on all sides, if you really wanna give a bunch of money to banks.

Ree September 26, 2008 at 11:37 am

What an absolutely wonderful post darlin. Oh, and psssst, love the new pic!

Rees last blog post..The O’Horror of it All

Mrs. Chili September 26, 2008 at 11:42 am

We HAVE to have those things – ice cream on demand, bedtimes of our own choosing, good t.v. – or else we’d all be pitching ourselves off of interstate bridges….

Mrs. Chilis last blog post..4F

Suzanne September 26, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Ha! this is soooo true! When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that my father was so lucky to be able to go to work instead of school. Now that I am his age, I realize how different the world looks, how some doors close and others remain open and why we invest so many dreams into our children.

Suzannes last blog post..Facing the Blank Page: Here’s What Worked For Me

Crazycath September 26, 2008 at 3:44 pm

And it is SO ok to grieve. It is. With ice cream. ;0)

I had to read this twice I was so distracted by the red hair! Wow – you look great! Was your last profile picture B&W? I think it was which is why the change is so striking. You do look ab fab dahling!

Crazycaths last blog post..Sky Watch Friday

Andrea's Sweet Life September 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm

I hopped over from Natalie’s, and I’m so glad I did!

What a wonderful, thought provoking post. Honestly, when I was a kid, I was pretty oblivious to the hard work of adulthood/parenthood. But now that I’m here, I realize how awesome it is, too!

Louise September 26, 2008 at 8:36 pm

What? RED hair? I thought this was never going to happen again. Looks lovely, but I’m in a bit of shocked state here.

Here’s my favorite line: “Someone whose tangle of legs in the morning makes the day bearable.” That AND ice cream (chocolate chip cookie dough with whatever sugary sprinkles I hapeen to have in my baking cupboard) makes everything perfect. (And a bath.)

Louises last blog post..The Friday Night “No Strings Attached” Bath

cindy September 26, 2008 at 8:42 pm

I’ve told my daughter that because I am an adult I can brush my teeth while walking around the house and use the f word. The privledges of age!

LOVE your darker hair. I’m in the process of reverting to my natural color (not that we’re really sure what that is) after decades of highlights. At my age, I just don’t want to try that hard any longer.

cindys last blog post..I weigh in on the ecomony

Mike S September 26, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Just visiting from Natalie’s. VERY nice piece. Not wishing to redo my childhood, but one meal at my Aunt’s table, after milking, with the great food, wood smoke smell, and apple pie perfume would be worth more than I could ever hope to pay:)

Mike Ss last blog post..Gettin’ by with a little help from…

flutter September 26, 2008 at 11:22 pm

amen, beautiful friend

flutters last blog post..I don’t even know where this is going

Carolyn September 26, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I give up. Will you write my blog for me? You said exactly what I so often think… only more perfectly than I ever could.

Especially when you said, “if they will escape the heaviness of disappointment over things they didn’t do or roads they didn’t take.” I struggle with that all the time. I worry that the “what ifs” are going to send me into a depression. I suppose we can only seek to instil in our children a wonder of the world and a desire to always learn and grow and explore. There could be worse things in the world than having big dreams for ourselves…

Carolyns last blog post..let me eat cake.

Carolyn September 26, 2008 at 11:27 pm

And I forgot to say… YOWZERS. Did you colour your hair?? You look HAWT woman. It almost make me want to play for the other team…

Carolyns last blog post..let me eat cake.

Carolyn September 26, 2008 at 11:28 pm

Ooops. Typo alert. Makes, not make. It’s almost MAKES me want to play for the other team.

See what you did? Looking all HAWT over there on the sidebar? You flustered me into posting a spelling mistake. Damn you Jennifer.

Carolyns last blog post..let me eat cake.

Mary Alice September 27, 2008 at 3:43 am

Lovely. Wasn’t it some Sheryl Crow song that had the lyrics

“It’s not having what you want ,
It’s wanting what you’ve got”

Good words to live.

Mary Alices last blog post..Sucks Like a Kirby or Maybe a…….

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 September 27, 2008 at 4:08 pm

I love this and you want to know the one industry that thrives during depression–the entertainment industry. We all want to escape from time to time.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4s last blog post..See the New Widget?

Mrs. G. September 27, 2008 at 9:40 pm

I hope our kids are a little smarter than us-your new photo is sexay.

Mrs. G.s last blog post..Mrs. G’s Secret Boyfriend #3 Reprise

Ann September 28, 2008 at 11:14 am

Love the new hair!

I’m so grateful for what we have lately, and your post again reminded me of this…and of the pure enjoyment of small, beautiful things, like ice cream.

Hilary September 28, 2008 at 7:17 pm

A morning tangle of legs and ice cream.. sounds pretty darn perfect to me.

Hilarys last blog post..September Stroll

the mama bird diaries September 28, 2008 at 8:28 pm

I really liked this post Jennifer. It is hard to find that sweet spot. I’m right there with you. Such beautiful words…

the mama bird diariess last blog post..not writing her off just yet

Gwen September 29, 2008 at 9:18 am

I do hope I can instill in my children the ability to find contentment in the here and now. Perhaps I should suggest that particular, lovely shade of red as an aid to discovering happiness.

Gwens last blog post..Summer Loving

Linda September 29, 2008 at 11:43 am

Good reminder! Coming from a history of childhood abuse I became a Mother that HAD to control my children’s environment – thinking that if I could just manage my kids’ lives they would never be hurt. Of course that way of parenting robbed us of all the JOY of just everyday life. I remember clearly when I had that light-bulb moment and starting just enjoying my kids. Great words to live by – Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.
Love your sexy new do!

Lindas last blog post..The Maltese Falcon swoops in to SF Bay (Spectacular Pics)

Kimberly September 29, 2008 at 7:29 pm

Another beautiful post!

And I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I LOVE your new ‘do. Gorgeous!

Kimberlys last blog post..Everyday blessings

anymommy September 29, 2008 at 8:06 pm

Mint chocolate chip! I leave here thinking about my life every single time. Regrets are hard, but you are so very right, it’s never over unless you let it be.

anymommys last blog post..I Am a Magnet for Insanity

apathy lounge September 29, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Truer words were never spoken.

apathy lounges last blog post..Now all Hell’s done broke loose…

San Diego Momma September 30, 2008 at 8:01 am

That is SO the truth. Ice cream every day keeps the doldrums away.

Also, love the pic! Girlfriend! Sassy!

Bruce September 30, 2008 at 11:19 am

I think it is evident that our parents deny us things, not because they are in control, but because they know that having what ever you want at a young age leads to disaster. They are trying to impart moderation, to let you soak up the lessons along the way instead of being totally distracted.

It appears that the old I become the less I am enamored of the capitalist society. It preaches wanton consumerism and greed and little restraint or compassion.

I fear that when our children are middle aged, they will be more frustrated from the entitlements and expectations not met, than we were.

Bruces last blog post..What Are You Worth?

Bruce September 30, 2008 at 11:19 am

By the way, love the new profile pictures……..

Bruces last blog post..What Are You Worth?

Rhea September 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Wait a sec, something looks different…you changed your hair! It’s RED! It makes your eyes pop out more. :o)

Rheas last blog post..My 7 seconds as a Superhero

melissa October 1, 2008 at 7:29 am

I really enjoyed reading this–and here’s a huge AMEN from your choir.

melissas last blog post..Lookin’ for some hot stuff

david mcmahon October 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

You’ve got me smiling!

david mcmahons last blog post..Pepsi Cooler

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