I am the only daughter of an only daughter, that and our hazel eyes are pretty much the only things we have in common.
Mom met Dad in high school. They spent most of their lives just around the corner from each other in an all white neighborhood, but theirs was the day of boys schools and girls schools, so, their meeting was a bit delayed. They dated, went to all the dances, and got married right after mom graduated from high school. My grandma made her wedding dress, sewing on appliqués in the hospital as my grandfather was treated for a ruptured appendix. Shortly after the wedding, they moved to San Diego where dad was stationed during his service with the Marines. Three years later, they moved back to Louisiana with me and one of my brothers, bought the home they still live in, and had 3 more children. It wasn't always easy and it wasn't always fun, but, forty one years later, they still get a little smoochy sometimes and I really love that about them.
I was born in San Diego. I don't remember living anywhere but the house my parents bought in Kenner, in a neighborhood that was way more diverse than its model homes would lead you to believe. From the time I was about 5, I played mother hen to my four younger brothers. Yes. Four. I didn't meet a boy in high school or go to any dances. The only marriage proposal I ever received was from a boy down the street...who still lives down the street...with his mother...and works at a grocery store. Oh, and there was also the co-worker who REALLY liked my red velvet cake, but that hardly counts. Instead of getting married after high school, I went to college. I took all sorts of classes, made a lot of friends, and came out of my shell a bit. I graduated, got a job and an apartment, and have had some small degree of success in the working world. I live alone. I rent my home. I still don't date. Like my mother, my family is my life.
That's one more thing we have in common.
As I approach my 40th birthday, still as single as I was back in school, and look back over my life, over the milestones that I missed...that my parents missed, I can't help but feel an ache in my chest. My mom never got to help me pick out any dresses. My dad never got to walk his only daughter down the aisle. And, their beloved grandchildren have come courtesy of other people's daughters. In those moments, my college education, my talents, my job history, even my character really don't seem to amount to much.
I feel like a disappointment. I know, to a degree, I am, though they would never, ever admit that to me. Truth is, I don't blame them. I'm disappointed in myself...in my life...in the type of daughter I've turned out to be.
Truth is a funny thing. It can be ugly. Hard to hear. Hard to accept. Yet, at the same time, necessary...cathartic...the only way to really be free of the lies we sometimes believe because they are attached to, or sprinkled with, a little bit of truth. And, that is what I'm really hoping and praying for as I go through this journey to 40, to be free, not only of the lies, but the pain, the wounds, the sort of defeated resignation, of believing I'm always going to be disappointed with life so I just need to suck it up and make do. My dad may never get to walk me down the aisle. My mom may never get to see one of my babies born. That is sad. But, God...
I was made for more than defeated resignation. My life is measured by more than dances, boyfriends, weddings and babies. There is a plan. Stubbornly reading and re-reading over another plan isn't going to change the course I'm on. Embracing the real plan will, though. It will change my heart, my mind, and my response to life as it unfolds before me. No longer will life-events be "not a husband", "not a baby", "not a house", summarily discounted and thrown on the heap with all of the other gifts, blessings and accomplishments that didn't measure up to my plan, instead, they will be received with thanksgiving and celebrated. At least, that's the theory I'm going with now.
As I "x" off the days on my calendar leading up to my birthday, I want to be expectant. Mostly, I want to really live, not just make do, and look forward to the future. I want to do it for myself, for that girl who had to watch all of her friends get asked to the dances and walk down the aisles and have the babies, because, you know what, she turned out pretty great, actually. But, also, I want to do it for my God, because He loves me, has gifted me this life, far more than I deserve, and because "He knows the way that I take and when he has tried me I shall come forth as gold"- Job 23:10