There had been hours in the car and trips to the gas station, the grocery store, minutes and hours wandering aisles looking at nothing I needed. These had been wasted. I would not miss them.
There had been mornings alone in coffee shops, staring at blank pages and blinking cursors. Journal entries written in the front seat of my car in the parking lot, sketches made with my seat belt still buckled, the radio mumbling away the extra minutes I built into my schedule.
There had been waiting: for appointments, in lines, at traffic lights. An hour each Thursday, reading while my daughter danced ballet. An hour each Friday, a crossword completed while she sang.
These had been wasted. I would not miss them.
These had been lonely. Pointless.
Time spent with no budget: staring at the mortar between bricks, my pencil running over rough paper, trying to capture the shadows that would become darkness–a smear of graphite next to a jotted phone number.
These were the throw-away times. I would never miss them.
I was in the second grade when I unmasked Santa. I’d had my suspicions for a while: the handwriting on the gift tags, the fact that Santa used the same wrapping paper as my parents did, and I’m sure I’d heard rumblings around the playground or maybe from my older brother. But whatever evidence I brought before them, my parents stood by Santa. Coincidence, they said. Santa’s helpers, they said. Go to bed, they said.
I spent that Christmas season snooping. I finally found my proof on Christmas day, not long after I received a beautiful Barbie dream house, pre-assembled under the tree. I was probably helping clean up wrapping paper, or perhaps making a last-ditch effort to make my point, but I found the box for the Barbie dream house in the garage, and my parents could pretend no longer.
I was not angry. I did not feel betrayed; I felt proud. Proud of myself for figuring it out. And I was grateful for my Barbie dream house, whoever gave it to me.
As I prepared to have my own children, I wondered whether I’d uphold the Santa myth. I didn’t want to lie to my children. Then again, I didn’t want to burden them with knowledge they couldn’t share with their classmates. I heard a lot of young parents considering the same conundrum. When they were babies, though, it was all academic.
Four years ago, this little darling came into my life and made me a mother of two. She is the sweetest, most loving little girl I could ever ask for, with a creative soul and a feisty heart and a big, beautiful brain.
Have you ever noticed how people talk a lot about how children learn, but they don’t have the same conversations about adults?
Maybe learning seems more important when the mind is young and malleable. Maybe we tend to forget about our own minds and hearts when we take on the responsibility of someone else’s. Maybe we don’t realize how much we keep learning as adults or how important it is that we keep learning well.
Learning is a particular concern of mine, and not just for my children. I’m the type of person who could have happily become a professional student, and failing that, I’ve become my own teacher. I’m a student of music, literature, foreign language, art, crafts, and even business.