Last weekend I went away with a friend of mine to Big Bear to scrapbook Casey's Story and Marcie's Story. The books are an explanation of each my children's beginnings-- not your typical scrapbook. They tell how each of them came to become part of our family, and they share a little bit about the world from whence they came. They're written for Casey and Marcie to understand now, as a toddler and a preschooler. The scrapbooking weekend is a topic for another post in itself, but the road trip portion of it was interesting, and it's what motivates me to write this entry.
I was explaining to my friend (who rode with me) that sometimes I look around and see how other people lead what appear to me to be charmed lives. It's not that I'm ungrateful for the life I lead. I'm actually very happy with my life. But it's work, too. For example, I said, we got a $500 refund check from Marcie's adoption in the mail the same week that I was in the car accident and needed to pay the $500 deductible. I mean, it could be worse-- at least we had the money.
She inquired as to how I was defining charmed life. And that caused me great pause. Because I was thinking that people who live charmed lives are people to whom life seems to happen. They just always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Things work out for them. They never really seem to struggle. And my friend pointed out that my $500 check example could be seen as pretty charmed, then, couldn't it? And, of course, she's right.
So I decided to look up the definition of a charmed life. What I found was that Answers.com defines it as "a life that seems to have been protected by a charm or spell." And Dictionary.net explains it's a life that is protected by or invulnerable because of "spells, charms, or supernatural influences."
Now, I certainly do not believe any spell or charm or supernatural influence is keeping me or my family safe. But I suppose that leading a charmed life is as much about perspective as it is about anything. And perhaps I had the wrong perspective.
I mean, the $500 check is one example. But I can think of plenty of others, too. For instance, if we hadn't struggled with fertility issues, Casey probably wouldn't be our son. That's not to say we wouldn't have adopted children; I think we would have considered it eventually, regardless. But at that point in our lives, at the exact time that Casey was born, we wouldn't have been adopting. I wouldn't have left teaching, probably. I probably wouldn't have gone to law school, or run the Disneyworld marathon. I wouldn't have met some people whom I now consider to be my closest friends. Sure, I would have done other stuff, and I would have made other friends. But the point is that what felt like this horrible thing happening to me was such blessing in so many other ways.
Another example is the car accident. It could have been so much worse. I mean, like I wrote about before, the kids could have been with me. Or I could have totalled the car. Or someone could have really been hurt. This really hit home for me early this week when we learned that one of Casey's classmates lost his 36-year-old mother in a car accident. I mean, there I was talking to her on the playground last week. And this week she's gone. And her two-year-old probably will not have any actual memories of her mother. And her four-year-old's memories will be limited at best. No warning. No good-byes. Just there in the morning when the kids woke up and gone that evening when they were tucked in bed. And here I am irritated because I had to drive a crappy rental car for a month. I mean, if you're going to be in a car accident, one where there are no substantial injuries and no children present is the kind of accident to be involved in. So my point is that leading a charmed life isn't about never having struggles-- it's about how you face those challenges and how you choose to handle them.
So here I sit. My children tucked quietly in bed for the night. And I am ever-so-grateful for the life I lead. I work hard at it. But it doesn't make it any less charmed . . .