The other day, I met the woman of my dreams. That is, the woman I had always dreamed of growing up to be. She's a well-respected doctor at one of the world's best hospitals. A specialist at the top of her field, teaching at the medical school, leading ground-breaking research, changing lives. I talked to her for a half hour about her life and her accomplishments, then walked away thinking about my own life, feeling...happy...content.
Had I met this woman a few years ago, it might have sent me into a tailspin. I would have walked away plagued by doubts and fears, wondering: What am I doing with my life? And instead, as if in one of those proverbial moments of clarity, I walked away thinking:
"I am exactly where I need to be right now. I am doing exactly what I was meant to do."
It wasn't even thinking. It was just knowing.
Growing up, I had plenty of lofty dreams for my grown-up self. And I look around me now and see none of the outward signs of my imagined successes. There's no M.D. after my name. There will never be an Olympic gold medal hanging on my wall. There's no million dollar bank account. No Pulitzer. No red carpet. No space walk. No patent pending. Just the signs of an average, everyday, ordinary life. Where I am constantly pinching myself. Knocking on wood. Thanking my lucky stars. Because somehow, in some fumbling, stumbling, clumsy way, I have ended up in the most extraordinary place—a place where I feel happy, fulfilled, content.
Like yesterday, when I sat in the rocking chair and held Charlie while he slept in my arms, and I thought: "There's nothing I would rather be doing. There's nowhere I would rather be."
Like last night, when I fell asleep to the sounds of Will pulling the garbage cans down to the curb, after he'd had a really hard day at work and had come home to find me curled up on the couch, feeling sick. He'd proceeded to put Julia and Charlie to bed, to wipe the butternut squash off of Charlie's high chair and the kitchen floor, to load the dishwasher and wipe down the counters and send me off to bed with a hot toddy. As I let my aching head fall against the pillows, and listened to the gravel crunching beneath the garbage cans, I thought: "I couldn't love anyone more."
Like the other day in the grocery store, when Julia was skipping along next to the cart and Charlie sat waving and smiling at all the people, who looked up from squeezing melons and stocking shelves to laugh and wave back. An older gentleman came over to say hello, wiping his hands on his apron as he marveled at Charlie's big blue eyes. He turned to me, nodded his head toward Julia and Charlie, and said: "This is what it's all about." Then, he turned back to his work, like some Dalai Lama emerging from the deli aisle to tell me what, deep down, I already knew.
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Read the next entry: 11.05.07: Masquerading as Mom