Over the weekend I was channel surfing and came to the movie While You Were Sleeping starring Bill Pullman and Sandra Bullock. At one point in the movie, father and son are talking about life. The father talks about how you go along in life trying to do the best you can and be the best parent/provider you can be and for one minute everything is perfect. And the son, about to drop the bomb that he doesn’t want to continue to be in the family business, says to his dad, “This isn’t that minute.”
I should confess that many of my friends think I’ve had a good life—not perfect, but good—despite a horrible adolescence when both of my parents died by the time I was 16. Looking back I consider it a miracle that I survived it all, but the fact is, I did survive.
I overcame the tumultuous teenage years and I somehow managed to graduate from college. I got married (too young and too naïve) and started to build a family. At age thirty-two, I had four daughters. My then-husband was rarely home and when he was, he was so filled with anger and violence that all of us wished he was somewhere else.
When I was closing in on forty years old, I sat in a therapist’s office confessing what a rotten marriage I had. Every night I was scared to death that harm would come to me or my four children, but I didn’t know how to get out of the trap. I kept telling the therapist that I wanted to believe my spouse would get help and our marriage could be saved. After many months of listening to me, one day my therapist said to me, “You know how you’ve lived the first half of your life. Do you want to live the second half of your life the same way?”
It took my breath away.
Change happened. And now that I’m fifty, I have a (new) husband who loves me, I’ve added two more daughters to my life, and I go to bed at night and sleep with both eyes shut. These things alone make my life grand.
But as I watched that movie and thought about my life, I realized I can count on one hand the number of minutes in my life when things have gone perfect. At fifty my life is at least half over (if not more than that) and all I’ve had is a handful of perfect minutes. Does this mean I haven’t met my quota and the next few years are going to be stellar?
There are too many times when my life as the mother of “four plus two” girls borders on the ridiculous for me to believe that my remaining years will be filled with perfect minutes. But it sure would be nice if when it comes time for me to pass into a different world, that I could say I had two handfuls of perfection.