Sunday, May 17, 2009

My Real Life (is still) Backordered

I realize I'm not a conventional blogger. I don't put up a lot of pictures, or give the low-down on the comings and goings of my family, or offer inspiration or practical advice or awesome recipes or any of that great stuff I read on your blogs. Heck, I don't even do giveaways, and if I accidentally stumble into the middle of one of yours, I apologize for intruding and assure you I had no intention of winning. I was just browsing, really.

I am an essayist, and that's not just my writing style. "Essayist" is embedded on my DNA. Ask anyone who has ever fallen into my trap with seemingly benign questions like, "Paper or plastic?"

The reply generally takes longer than the tree took to grow or the dinosaur took to, um, is "petroleum-ify" a word? Anyway, that long. Longer, if there aren't any perishables in the cart.

Tell me I have 10 minutes to speak, and you can practically see my brain reach for a cyanide capsule. (I'm supposed to speak at a fireside tomorrow night. I've been given thirty minutes, max, and I'm already hyperventilating at the thought of having so little time to get everything said.) I love to tell stories, to imagine all of you sitting in my living room, laughing about the time I fell out of the hammock or wrestled sheep or tried to renew my driver's license on the worst day of the world.

That's why I started a blog. And this marks my 52nd post.

Now, I realize that's hardly a milestone. You talented bloggers usually celebrate your 100th post or your one millionth follower or your Pulitzer nomination.

But "52" is significant to me. It represents the number of articles I would have to write in a year if I ever got my dream job of writing a weekly column for the New York Times or Nickel Ads or something. And I've done it in -- hang on, gotta count -- 183 days, or just over six months.

The true miracle here, the one really worth celebrating, is that I've stayed with it this long. I'm the poster grown-up for adult ADD, and I usually have the kind of attention span associated with goldfish or Paris Hilton.

But this project is different. It's something I've believed in for a long time, this chronicle of an unexpected life and the surprising truth that things rarely turn out the way we thought they would.

"My Real Life Was Backordered" was the working title of the first non-Christmas letter essay I ever wrote. It predates my book by a good ten years. Goodness, it predates a couple of my kids.

Paraphrasing my first blog post, which actually paraphrased that first essay, let me explain how it came to me:

I was pretty sure I had it all mapped out. Marry the cute guy up the street, teach high school music while the cute guy managed an office somewhere or cooked meth or did whatever you do with an accounting degree, have a couple of kids, and live out my days in Fill-In-The-Blank, Utah.

Blinked twice, and the cute guy was a federal agent -- and most definitely NOT a meth-cooker; sheesh, I was WAY off on that one -- I had never taught a day of school, and we had moved to the dark side of the moon, Mercer Island, Washington, in November of 1990.

That was the craziest winter the Northwest had seen in 50 years. Torrential rains turned to FEET of snow in a place that was so hilly it made San Francisco look like a Chinese gymnast, and where there were exactly 18 snow plows.

As if that weren't enough, the I-90 floating bridge sank to the bottom of Lake Washington.

A new bridge was under construction, but it was hoped that the old bridge would keep floating happily along and, you know, bridging stuff, until the new one was completed.

However, the old bridge had some internal structural problems, and required some repairs to keep it, for lack of a better word, afloat. So, naturally, the highly paid engineers and bridge specialists hired by King County decided that the best approach to accessing the bridge's innards was to fill its outtards with a gazillion holes.

Now, I admit that my degree in music hardly qualifies me as an expert on all things sea-worthy, but it seems to me that if you drill a bunch of holes into a big ol' floaty thing without first getting the water out of the way, and then it rains like Noah just slammed the door in your face, the big water will hook up with the sky water inside the holes until the floaty thing, well, isn't one any more.

Not surprisingly, this was the bridge that led to our home on Mercer Island.

And I realized then: Life wasn't going to follow my beautifully mapped out plan, which was probably just as well, as I seemed to have a knack for finding the proverbial sinking bridge and parking my future on it.

In fact, life was going to take my map, use it to wipe its nose, run it through an industrial wood chipper, poo on the chips, stuff them into a paper sack, light the sack on fire, and leave it on the porch before ringing my metaphorical doorbell and running away giggling.

That was the beginning of my Backordered Life.

Now, as for the point of this, my landmark 52nd post:

I want to hear from you. I rarely solicit comments from my readers. I kind of feel like it isn't really a conversation if I treat it like some sort of talk show. "Now, Muffy, when did you first suspect your husband was actually a giant tree sloth with an unusually good tailor?" That just doesn't feel right. If you have something to say, you'll say it. And if you don't, well, you are welcome to hang out with the rest of us and laugh with the ones who always keep the story going, like a great big multi-continental slumber party.

But this time, I would like to hear about your version of The Backordered Life. Tell me your stories. Has your life turned out the way you thought it would? In what ways have you been surprised? If the 20-year old You could jump forward in time to spend a week with the current You, what things about your life would amaze her the most?

And I want to hear from you blurkers out there, too. You can comment anonymously if you'd like; I'm not out to expose you or steal your stories. I just want to know if any of the things contained in these first 52 essays have reached you in some way, have led you to say, "Yes, I can relate to that" or "No, that DeNae is certifiable" or "Gosh, I'm glad a kangaroo didn't smash through MY window and start bouncing on the bed."

This is the closest I'm going to come to celebrating my little blog's un-birthday. But if you'll all play along, it promises to be the best, most gratifying writing I've ever, or never, done.

I can't wait to hear from you!

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

I must say that I have enjoyed reading your blog. Its always fun to laugh out loud and then see the reaction of the other people in the room. You tend to get some odd looks when it appears you are laughing at nothing!

Oh, and having attended your Sunday school class on multiple occasions I would have LOVED to have been there for your little throw down over the old testament! I guess that's what you get for moving!

Hel said...

Since reading the title and description of your blog, I have thought regularly about my backordered life.

I cheer every time you send a post into the blogosphere, DeNae!

My 20 year old self would be kicking my butt right now.

By the time I had turned 20, I was over the hurt of not being married with a baby on the way by 19 and I was determined to be a career woman for the rest of my life.

I scorned all those young girls who fell in love, got married and immediately fell pregnant. What kind of life is that??!! I couldn't think of anything more boring than getting married and having children. This frame of mind continued right up until just before I was married. (Think "freak out" when I was proposed to.. that's right, I was nowhere near being excited!)

Of course, I say that my 20 year old self would be kicking my butt, but let's be honest... she's so self consumed, she'd be more interested in getting into trouble than thinking about helping out her future self.

Shantel said...

My Life is NOTHING like I planned. In fact youhave caugt me having a hard time with that. I dont feel like a failure. I think I am holding up pretty dang well, I just wanted to do more before I reached this piont. (get my degree), The Lord is teaching me that this a a journey, and maybe I did notget what I wanted, because I needed to learn other things - but I am thick headed. I have five children with Specail needs. The odds of me getting back to school are slim. I am having a hard time accepting the other path. Pride - dang it! I would not change anything - I just want to add. and I NEVER EVER NEVER EVER NEVER EVER thought I would be a happy as I am right now. And that is the truth.

Lara said...

Let's see...I was practically engaged to a guy when I was 20. He was in law school and that fit perfectly with my idea of what my life would be. Instead, that (thankfully!) didn't work out (Lawyer turned out to be a two-timing jerk, and married the other girl instead which is fine by me! I've been seeing him on the news lately because he's defending a bunch of gang banger murderers, and I'm ever so glad I didn't marry him!).

I always thought I'd be married by age 21, not 25 as it actually happened. I never thought I'd marry a professional musician, go on a mission, have daughters and millions of other things that are my life.

Never thought I'd be living in nowhere Michigan, either.

veronica said...

It's interesting to think back on what we THOUGHT our lives would be...before we knew any better.
I was sure that my house would always be clean, my children would always be dressed to the nines and I would always be skinny.
Well, it's not, they're not and I'm not.
But I am happy. And that's what counts!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the blogging world. I always look forward to reading what you write!

Brittany Ann said...

Ah, reflection. If you'd asked me 7 or 8 years ago what I was aspiring to it would have looked like this "I don't want to get married young, all the girls in my church do that, and I'm not going to, I'll be at least 25 before I tie the proverbial knot. And if I meet Mr. Right before than he'll have to at least wait until I'm done with my degree in Marine Biology or Psychology (I hadn't decided). We'll eventually have a family, but we'll take our time, there's no reason to sprint towards a stereotype."
Isn't it funny how things workout? I'm not even 25 yet, next month I'll be married 4 years. We have two boys, we'd have a higher number is we didn't keep losing pregnancies. I'm happy though, I couldn't have planned it any better than it is!

wendy said...

First off I consider you a celebrity, cause I love AMBER and you are Amber's sister ---and since she is awesome, so must you. Your writings are amazing. I admire those who can write so well "find the words that fit what they are trying to say"
I just blunder along.
If the 20 year old me could meet ME NOW ----she'd say WTF (in a nice way)
I am trying - at 58 - to learn to stand on my own 2 feet and make my OWN decisions. I've always been a "doer" of the things everyone else wants me to do. Crippiling actually.
I am at a cross roads right now and have some MAJOR decisions to make about me ---------It may make or break me, don't know and it is scarry.
ramble, ramble, ramble, this may not be what you were looking for in a response (this little novel) but I have had a good life ---JUST NOT QUITE YET LIVED MY !!! LIFE.

Qait said...

You know, I've actually wondered that question to myself several times. But since I'm only 21 (married and with a baby, too), that means I used to dream up my plans when I was 10 or so.
Not to bring the blogworld's wrath onto my head, but my life is incredibly beautiful and just right for me! There are a few things that don't line up: I thought I'd be rich (nay, I KNEW I'd be rich), I'd be a virtuoso harpist, and I would never yell at any child of mine.
hahhahhah! But guess what, it's definitely not too late!

The family said...

hmmm let me think on this a little bit.

This is going to take some working.

Lisa said...

I only happened on you recently, so I had no idea you had been blogging for such a short time...only about the same as me.

But, I was intrigued with your backordered life idea...I'm a planner and am no where near my "plan" or my mother's plan...etc.

I'm married to a career military man, have traveled the globe, and encounter adventure after adventure that sometimes conflict with my planning nature. Although I love being a mom, my children are not what I expected my greatest challenges to be.

Since I quoted you in my most recent blog post, I believe you can rest assured you speak for so many of us, saying in real terms what real life is about...Thank you!

InkMom said...

Have you ever thought that maybe the reason I relate to you so well is because you are, well, certifiable?

Okay, on with the show.

Here was my plan: (and don't be offended by how full of myself I was. Or am. Let's stick with was. Remember, this was my pre-high school graduation plan.)

1. Full ride to college of my choice. (This actually happened.)

2. A fun time dating, but no serious commitments because I was going to be too scholarly for all that mushy crap.

3. Graduate school, two choices: Eastman or something for musicology PhD, or medical school, to eventually specialize in forensic pathology (I always loved the science but didn't want to deal with stupid people . . . so just be a doctor for the dead ones.)

4. Scholarly, professorial-like smart person career.

5. Marry a doctor or something and be set for the rest of my life. (That actually happened, too. Rather, I married someone who would become a doctor, and worked hard to put him through school without astronomical amounts of student loans. And the whole set for the rest of my life thing? If by set, you mean happy, then yes. If by set you mean money-ified, then no. By no means. Apparently, he's not that kind of doctor. But we are happy and the lifestyle suits us, so who's complaining? Not me!)

See what all that got me?

When I was growing up, I thought there was something wrong with me -- that I was missing some piece of genetic code necessary to feel emotion. I could see a situation or a movie or something that elicited an emotional reaction from other people, and I could understand why they might be moved by it . . . but I still remained unmoved. I just thought I was broken, different, but somehow, better off because my analytical side could operate without the side effect of emotional involvement.

And then I met my husband -- and this will all be it's own post on my own blog one day. It was as if he found the switch labeled "emotion" and flipped it the other way. All of a sudden, the world looked like a very different place than the one I had lived in up to that point.

I finished school, but haven't tackled graduate school -- yet. We're exploring those possibilities right now. I have three boys that I adore, and one more something on the way. (June 9th! Ultrasound!) And I DO NOT want to be a forensic pathologist. I still might like to study musicology, maybe ethnomucisology . . . but I'm not willing to go to far away to do it.

I love where I am now. I say that wholeheartedly and without qualification. The life I ended up with wasn't exactly what I ordered, but it was exactly what I needed.

Stacy S said...

I love your blog- reading it is like reading my own thoughts, only written better, and um, funnier. In fact, my blog title is taken from what I always said my first book would be titled: "What did you think was going to happen?" My life is full of stories where things didn't turn out quite the way I planned them, like when I set out to have a natural birth and ended up having a baby on the side of the freeway, or how we have not one, but two rare medical condtions circulating around my family and are currently trying to see every pediatric specialist possible. (Its possible I may be a little sick in the head- I thought it was funny when we got to consult with a pediatric nephrologist, because it was a new specialty on my list.) I also find it funny that you're a music teacher as well- it always makes me happy to read of other music geeks out there. (Come to think of it, I was always going to be on a stage performing, not teaching a bunch of five year olds to play "Twinkle" on the violin, but I digress, again.) I guess what I'm rambling about is that you're not the only one whose real life was backordered, and I'm enjoying reading about yours.

Beka said...

I love the "The life I ended up with wasn't exactly what I ordered, but it was exactly what I needed." comment. I think that a lot of the reason that people stumble onto you is in your title. Of course we can relate to you, because I think we all thought we'd be different. Or wish we were.

I was somewhat of a rebellious teen and the things I thought were stupid really. Like: "Sure, I'll have babies, but I won't gain weight." "My boobs will always stay perky." "I'll be rich and happy." "I'll do it, you watch."

Well, I don't think any of those things need further examination. My long term goals mostly just involved being happy, which most of the time I think I am.

I had my first son at age 18, on graduation day. That first marriage was a (no surprise) stupid idea and didn't last long. I did better the second time around, but some of the things we've been through still aren't retold for fear of judgement. Two more kids who we love, some depression which we hate, a total career change and various other small and large hurdles. Now, at 32, I face a hysterectomy (sp?) this week because of some uterine cancer.

Ultimately, my life isn't any worse than anybody else's and actually easier than a lot. It's just different than I planned, which was the point, I know, but I didn't want it to sound like I was whining.

At any rate, my life isn't what I ordered, either, but I was so determined to fight for what I thought was going to be fulfilling that the lessons I had to learn were harder than they had to be if I'd had an open mind about what was to come my way.

This is way more info than you needed, but reflections have kindof been at the forefront of my mind, so this was quite timely.

Thanks for the opportunity to ramble on. I hope it made sense.

Janet said...

I guess I never really dreamed of what my life was going to be in too much detail, because I can't really remember any expectations to compare it to. I married who I knew I would marry. We are as happy as I knew we would be. Infertility threatened to cancel my order, but then opted for a three year backorder. It was worth the wait.
I did imagine more time with my dad being a grandpa to my children, but that order was cancelled. The warranty, however, promises a complete contract fulfillment on that at a later date, yet to be determined.
Overall, I am satisfied with the delivery of my life. There have been a few glitches but, all in all, it's been what I hoped for and I will not be looking for a return or an exchange.

Sher said...

First of all, I have to say, once again, that I so totally love you, and your essays, and I could sit and listen to you talk all day.
And I love that you're asking us to share out stories.
For me, I couldn't have dreamed up what I am living right now. Honestly.
I remember going through my teen years, daydreaming about meeting a tall, dark and handsome Mr. Right, falling madly in love, getting sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, and riding off into the sunset to live happily ever after. My vision of my future was romantic, and unrealistic. But, for the six years I attened Young Womens, it was drilled into my fantasizing little brain that my ultimate goal was to get to the temple. Of course, being the stupid teenage that I was, there were a few detours on the way, but eventually I made it there.
Married I tall, dark, and handsome man, got sealed in the temple for time and all eternity, and rode off into the sunset to live happily ever after.
And then, I woke up the day after the honeymoon, and realized that first, I now had to live with a boy. What was I supposed to do with him? And I've not accomplished my ultimate goal in life.
Now what?
I had a major indentity crisis and went into major depression my first year of marriage. It took me years to overcome my distress at being "just a wife" and finding out who I am.
I'm just glad I married someone who encourages me to be me, despite being his wife, and the mother of his children.
It's helped me grow.
So, now you know, the one big thing we have in common (besides loving music) is our incredible lack of brevity.
Sorry for writing a novel in your comments.

Shawn said...

Well---you have opened up a can of worms. I have too many things---it would take years to write about.
And most of them are shamelessly self-serving and selfish on my part. I would have never married my first husband----abusive jerk that he is----and I wouldn't have had children so young. (I was only 20 when my first was born---nine months after I was married, thank you very much) I would have been more selfish about my singing career, and done all that before I had a family.

See----I am a bad, selfish person and don't deserve what I have, but all I ever wanted was to have the chance to make it in the music business, and I never had the chance----I had to stay with my kids....

And it goes on and on.

Jessica said...

I've often said that I am so glad that I am not in charge of my life, because I so would have done it differently... and I'd have messed it all up.
I grew up fairly sheltered. Never left the state. Grandma took me on a bus tour with the old folks to Disneyland for my graduation...college graduation. That was a big deal.
I taught school, married and everything seemed great. Then one day he said, Hey, I want to go to law school and join the military!
Life has never been the same. I cried for a month when we moved away from our "home" to a different state. Now, several states and a country later, life is good. I enjoy seeing the new places and living an experience filled life. I didn't see this life coming, but I have enjoyed the ride.
Being a control freak, it is really hard to let the military tell me where to move and when.

Karen said...

DeNae, you know how much I love your blog! And 52 posts is definitely an accomplishment!

My 20-year-old self would be glad to know she served a mission, but I think she might be a little disappointed that I don't have either an awesome career or an awesome husband and kids. But, that's the benefit of time. I know what led me to where I am and I'm happy with it.

myimaginaryblog said...

I really relate to the essayist thing -- I find I can give a lengthy opinion on. any. topic. at. all. no. matter. whether. anyone's. asking. for. it. Today in Relief Society I made a comment that started like this: "The other dasy I was listening to a Conference talk from a year ago, by coincidence -- or maybe not by coincidence. I still don't have 2009's Conference talks on my iPod so I was listening to last year's" -- and suddenly I thought I saw, very briefly, an impatient twitch by the RS teacher, and I was immediately mortified that I'd just spent that long in a *preamble* to a Relief Society comment. I really try to edit myself when needed, but I don't always succeed. (Oddly, I haven't yet chosen to take a personal-essay approach to my own blog, and I'm not sure why not -- maybe I'm afraid that once I let myself go on at length there, I'd quickly be buried alive in the quicksand of my own words, and would bore off all my readers.) (I'm not at all meaning to imply that all essay-style blogs are boring, since yours is clearly an example of the opposite, but that my approach to personal essay would be much more likely to be a long-and-winding road through the grayest stretches of my gray matter.)

Anyway, I'm thinking about this question of whether my life has turned out as planned, and am finding the question surprisingly challenging. On the surface I'd have to say that yes, definitely, in many elements my life is just the one I wanted -- but then, there have been near-derailments along the way that tried my faith, and also there are prices to pay for the life I do have, that I couldn't have anticipated, or perhaps thought I could escape. I knew I wanted a lot of kids, but hoped I'd still be able to have a mostly-clean home, and I don't. I also somehow imagined I could avoid spending my life as a chauffeur, but have had to accept that my kids will miss opportunities that I want them to have unless I surrender to the taxi-driver role. My marriage is a good, happy, working marriage, but not always the mind-reading soul-mate marriage I'd sometimes fantasized about. So, yeah, I guess in some ways I'd be thrilled to see how some things turned out even better than I'd expected as an overly-serious, prematurely-mature kid (who used to joke, perhaps accurately, that I was going through my midlife crisis in my 'tweens.) But there have still been plenty of unforeseeable challenges and disappointments.

And yet on even further thought I'd have to say that for someone whose "natural man" state is somewhere between a cynic and a realist, my reality sometimes surprises me by how good it is. Even more importantly, my hope in Christ is often stronger than my natural-man pessimism, and when I have moments when I can see clearly through the eyes of hope, I see how my life, especially to the extent that I've embraced and practiced the Gospel, is exactly what it's meant to be (even including un-wished-for challenges.) And since that hope has been with me since childhood, there's a continuity between the life I hoped for and the life I actually have, even if many of the specific details have changed.

jojomynx said...

I love having found your blog, and enjoy your writing immensely. I often lurk and this will be my first comment.

I too could never have imagined the journey to where I am today. In High School I imagined myself finishing college, immediately marrying and then being a stay at home mom and cop's/military man's wife. Little did I know I'd end up living on my own, then in a horrible marriage and divorced by 22. All in the course of finding my own testimony. After finding it, my life took off in the right direction. In less than a year I'd met and been sealed to my very own RM.

7 years and 2 kids later I still don't have a degree, and I have found myself as the breadwinner while my husband stays with the children.

It's amazing what turns our lives take and the things we're able to learn when we allow ourselves to face our hurdles and be taught much-needed lessons. Even with my many mistakes, I could not wish away my colorful past. Without it I could not be the woman I am today, or even the woman I was when I managed to coerce the most wonderful man in the world into marrying me forever!

jan said...

My 20 year-old self would be quite surprised at me now. I had a very neat plan mapped out for myself, but not much after college graduation has been what I anticipated. I did marry a nice RM in the temple, but had children later and had fewer children then I had hoped for. Married life has proved to be much more complicated and difficult than I could have ever imagined. Despite a series of career missteps, cross-country moves and mental health issues with my hubby, I am continuing to work at things and exercise my faith. I've made lots of sacrifices in the process, including leaving my lifelong desire to be a SAHM in order to support the family when latest career disaster happened. I've learned you have to let go of the past and deal with what you've got now. 20 year-old me might shake her head at the unexpected path life has taken, but 30-something me can at least look back and see the personal/spiritual growth that has taken place and see the tender mercies God has sent to see me through all of these challenges.

Melia said...

May you write long and frequently!

I also am not living the life I signed up for. That life is being enjoyed by someone living in a foreign country surrounded by art and culture and what-all, working for the opera, and generally having a much easier time than the rest of us.
Instead I'm back in the desert I swore I'd left behind at graduation, living in the house I grew up in, nowhere near culture or art, raising a tribe of chidren while wishing to have more, and slowly losing the battle to keep my sight. None of this was in the "life goals" handouts I filled out during my Young Women's years.
Still, it's better in reality than it sounds on paper--or computer screen. So I didn't marry the future senator of my dreams! So what if my theatrical credits are mostly roadshow-related? What does it change that my skin is slowly drying to a mask-like husk and my hair is mostly curly instead of straight and chic? This is who I've become, and it's a lot more fun to write as one who didn't quite catch the brass ring.

Thanks for providing the best five minutes of my morning.

NatureGirl said...

I am apparently too long winded to leave a just comment...

www.idnaturegirl.blogspot.com

AS Amber said...

I guess I'm living the life I figured I would. Married. Kids. Stay at home mom. Never thought I'd land in Utah County, though. And I wish I was in Tooele county which is among the last place I thought I'd miss living list.
I broke up with my long-time boyfriend the day before I turned 20 so I guess I didn't really have a plan as to who I'd be married to.
Oh, actually, I'm sure I never planned on being in a second marriage, inactive in the church and being a fatty mc fatty pants.
And although our texting convo the other night might suggest otherwise, I really am basically happy.
And I freakin' love your blog!

The Garden of Egan said...

DaNae, NO my life isn't what my 20 year old self thought it would be...heck it isn't even what I thought my 50 year old life would be! (and you brag about being the oldest blogger on the block...WHATEVER!)
There are days I would like a refund on my life because I'm dang sure I didn't sign up for this one, especially considering the events of the last month or so.


I blog because there are days I have to laugh at myself because otherwise I'd been in the nuthouse. There isn't too much exciting about my life. Used to be a dairy farmer's wife...not now...got rid of the cows not the farmer. Had 5 kids when I didn't think they'd ever give me a moments grief....well hell...that was the biggest stupid thing I thought.

Became a hairdresser because my mom wanted me to. Worked for about a year in that career....if you don't count the multiple Thanksgivings I've spent in the garage at my MIL house doing haircuts and perms because my hubby had 10 diblings (I know it's supposed to be siblings, but I like diblings better)...wow, those were the get togethers to love and dream about for next year NOT.

Then I decided to fulfill my own dream and went to school when my baby was 6 weeks old (what? are ya nuts?) ya, decided I wanted to be a nurse.....sometimes it's good for me to reflect upon that when I'm up to my elbows in body parts and pieces.

I've never been anywhere exciting or exotic, never been out of the continental US and don't care if I ever go.

It's amazing to me that when I realize how dang boring I am that I just don't go grab a razor and do myself in....what in the world do I have to blog about????

All I know is that I enjoy it and have had a blast running into your blog (I'm pretty low maintenance that way) Keep it up! Someday I'm going to come to your SS class just to see what the real church is like!

The B's said...

My life is not as "ordered." And 20 year old me is somedays blown away with the blessings and shaking her head at the stupidity! I had 3 children in 2.4 years (blessing AND stupidity!) and who knew that everything they did - would almost be done simultaneously! One of the years I taught early morning seminary (5:30 class), that was the same year that all 3 went to seminary - and trying to get them there just 5 minutes early so I could have a chance to prepare was a MOST difficult task (I did want to have the spirit - and not be yelling at them on the way!). One year all three were serving missions - they overlapped for 9 months. (I know this is something that is a major blessing considering some of thier teenage life choices- but again a bit overwhelming.) And then in 2008there were 3 weddings in 4 months. Although this year's announcements of 2 grandbabies - it more than thrilling! I would NOT have freaked out the night of my 3rd child's birth when they began to take me to the OR for a hysterectomy and beg them not too - I would have gone willing knowing what the next 8 years I would have to endure - only to not have been blessed with the other prayed for and planned for children and still have the hysterectom! I would not have wished their childhood away - it passed more quickly than I ever thought possible. I never thought teenagers would cause me more sleepless nights than babies - even the one that woke up 3 times a night for years...I finally just taught him to come in with his own pillow and blanket and he would lie on the floor while I somewhat rubbed his head! I did not foresee that my dh would have to commute for 3-4 hours daily, so I could be a SAHM! I did finally get to finish college - I started back two times before it really happened though. I thought that by this time we would be finacially ok, not wealthy, but that we would not have to worry daily about layoffs! Who knew!?!?! Now we just pray that a mission will still someday be possible! I also don't think I would be so afraid of being a good MIL - I am scared - I want wonderful relationships and somedays, I just don't know how! (My inlaws call when there is a death!)I don't want them to feel friction at the holidays - but I don't want to be home alone depressed either!
So, although, my order was switched - it turned out to be pretty darn good. I wish I didn't have to work - but, moving to Utah allowed my hubby to give up the crazy commute (and probally give him years of his life back!) But, I now enjoy teaching 6th grade and my hubby being a short 30 miles away. And I am hoping that I can find a way to be a wonderful grandma to the added blessings that still seem to fall my way when I am not sure I always deserve them!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh my goodness, one of your Sunday School class members is annonymously reading you. YIKERS!

I don't have time right now to tell my crash test dummy story, but hahahahahahahah at yours. You are an incredible essayist. That's what you do and you do it well. That's what I love about you. NO gimmicks. Just want to write. Thank you. Amen.

I second that motion.

MommyJ said...

Here's the thing... I got married young enough that I really didn't have any plans. I had no idea what I wanted, except to be happy, and my husband's been pretty good at helping with that.

I will say though, that throughout my adult life (which directly coincides with my married life) I have realized so much that I want to do, and feel I would be good at, I just can't do them yet. So perhaps I feel like there is an entire life that could be mine, but isn't. I wouldn't change that though... a time and season for all things.

Melissa said...

At one point I had a plan.
Marry at 35; practicing as an attorney; no children, EVER. I felt like I had raised my sisters, so I was done.
And certainly NO CHURCH!

Mmmmmmmm
Married right after I graduated and a week after I turned 18. 2 and half years later started babies. 3 sons. No college for me. Working full time in a career that I really have no business being in. It's for smart people with college degrees, not me. And hardcore, card carrying, active and serving hard members of the LDS church.

Who knew?? I think I like my life now. Even with all the stinkin bumps those damn kids bring. I'll still take it.

zannyzoozoo said...

OK - you've lured me out of my lurking. I LOVE your posts and tend to see life through similar colored lenses.

My 20 year old self would probably kick me in the butt and slap me upside the head if she ran into me today. I was SUPPOSED to be a stay at home mom, living the perfect "molly mormon" life. I was a mis-fit in high school so my only plans in adulthood were to blend in - and avoid drawing attention to myself. I thought I might teach a few piano lessons on the side for additional mental stimulation between diaper changings.

Somehow in college I decided to drop the piano scholarships and major in Accouting instead (still thinking I could do bookkeeping on the side for that mental stimulation).

Well 12 years later, I'm a finance executive for a large healthcare company with 4 kids at home. How did this happen? I'm not supposed to be a career woman.

My husband is a software engineer and he telecommutes and takes care of the kids and the homefront (don't ask me how he does it all).

So I go to church on Sundays and stick out like a sore thumb ... I'm the chick that makes all that money and selfishly won't give up all that money to be home fulfilling her God given calling as a mother. Not exactly what I call "blending in" ...

The thing is, I've prayed and asked to be home with my children and the answer is "be patient". Ummm, how funny is it going to be when my last child heads off to school all day and the Lord says - "OK you can quit your job now and lay by the pool all day!". Not what I had in mind ...

But seriously, before we moved to Tennessee I laid out my options and went to the Lord. I could take this promotion in TN, move to UT (near family) and telecommute part-time for the same company, or ... OR we could downsize and I could STAY HOME. Answer: you're going to Tennessee. Hmpff.

So here I am - reminding myself to count my blessings and be grateful that my children are in good hands...at home with my husband. I'm trying to accept this "alternative" life and come to understand myself and my savior's plan for me along the way.

In the meantime, it's uplifting to see so many others living unexpected lives too.

Thanks for sharing... you're great!
I can always count on you to make me laugh out loud.

Now back to work...I read blogs at lunch instead of news (depressing).

Bri... only she said...

I love your humorous take on life! This is actually the first post I've read on your blog. My family back home (in BEAUTIFUL, emerald colored Washington - sorry to disagree with you) pointed me to your blog. My mother and sisters said they gather around to read your blog and giggle like giddy girls. What a gift your sense of humor is!! I wouldn't discount what you write about at all. My mother-in-law, who writes Mona's Musings, gave me some wonderful advice... "laugh once a day; cry once a day." We women need both, and you've got me laughing so hard I'm crying, so I'd say you're going forward with a very worthy work.

Anyhow, now that I've buttered you up, I'm one of the youngin's reading your blog. I'm only 21 by 3 days. My life stopped being what I expected when I looked beyond the Harry Potter- type books as a preteen and realized that a big hairy man was never going to come and take me away to learn magic. Shame, really. My house could really use a good cleaning spell.

When I graduated high school I did not get into the school that I had always known I was going to get into. I kept the rejection letter. It actually now serves as a sweet reminder of how my life is not mine to plan, but the Lord's - and I wouldn't have it any other way. The Lord made a lot more of my life where I was than I could have away at school on my own. I got my associates degree at a local college, developed the very useful and marketable talent of interpreting for the deaf, and worked in an elementary school while making incredible friends who lifted me out of the self-pity party I'd accustomed myself to. The Lord prepared me in so many ways to meet my out-of-this-world husband, who I AM SURE has magical powers, and I "just happened" to be in the right place when he showed up on my doorstep and stole my heart. (Literally the first time I saw him, he was with his family, caroling to my family.) I felt incredibly blessed, had a fairy tale wedding with my Prince Charming and got accepted to my dream school where my husband happened to already be attending. We sailed off into the sunset.

While happily ever after wasn't exactly what I expected. Long hours at school and work I could handle. But a month or so after our marriage I was diagnosed with mono which knocked me flat for two months. I didn't have the good humor that you did, which I'm sure is why the illness stayed for so long. If I could just have learned to laugh at my circumstances - oh the healing I know would've come so much sooner! I am better now though and much more grateful for good health AND good humor.

I feel like I have given up on MY plans though. When I make decisions and plan out my life the way I would have it... well, for one it never happens, but I am ALSO sure I'd never be happy that way. When I prayerfully make decisions, and let the Lord guide me, things I never thought would make me happy, do. The trials and storms are necessary, I'm finding, and if we can find humor in our rapidly sinking ship, and listen closely to the counsel given to us, everything is going to be okay.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your humor. I, for one, do find them uplifting and inspiring.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Alright, I've finally showed up to throw in my two cents (I just know you were waiting for me.) :)

As a teenager, I don't think I had a super clear view of my future, but I was confident that I would be happy and successful, and I knew I wanted to be a teacher and do something with Spanish.

As I was graduating with my masters degree in Spanish teaching, I was 26 and single. I was mostly fine with that, despite just having gone through my first official break-up, and pretty much resigned myself to be a successful single woman who traveled the world and trained future Spanish teachers. I had already been accepted into 5 Ph.D. programs. I figured that family and children were not in my future and that was okay. I wrote in my journal that once I was making some good money, I could offer a home to foster children or troubled teens or whatever. It would be my slice of motherhood in an exciting and fulfilling single life.

Then I met Matt, and God turned my plans on their ear. (Yes, plans have ears.) I have a blog draft in my mind about this that I will save for later, but Matt is not at all the type of person I would have guessed I'd build an eternal partnership with, but God was very specific about how much we needed each other, and here we are.

Ten years later, I am a stay-at-home mom to three small children... the exact model that I never imagined would be a part of my life. I never got that Ph.D., and though I sometimes wonder if I'll get back to it down the road, I will be okay if I don't.

So here I am in my real diapers and divinity life and it's just where I should be, but not at all what I ordered. Sometimes we make the mistake of not ordering something we've never tried before. We can be pleasantly surprised.

Motherboard said...

You are a brilliant Essayist, and I love your blog more than food. That's saying something!

That's what I want to be when I grow up. Either an Essayist or Denae. I can't decide which.

I have actually thought about this a lot. I had 2 plans. And neither one has worked out.

Sometimes I think my 20 year old self is stalking me and banging her head against the wall. I am doing everything that I swore I would never do:

Be married.
Have kids-- and 4 of them to boot!
Drive a mini-van.
Mow the lawn.
Not working.
Being a homemaker.

My first plan was to get my Masters and either A) teach on a college level or B) a traveling teacher.

My dream job was to work for Worldspan (a nerdy travel computer company) and go around the country teaching worldspan classes! I was never going to be married and I had sworn off guys.

I got offered that dream job the same day that Jefe asked me to marry him. It was the most difficult choice, in all honesty, I have ever made.

I let my dream go, to get married. (did you hear my 20 year old self banging her head?)

My second plan was to get married to a super rich guy who wanted to be the next prophet. I had my bio written that was going to run in the church news when he was called to be the mission president, for the first time. (I did. It's sick. I know) I lived, after getting married, for that bio to be fulfilled.

That didn't pan out either.

At some point, I think everyone has to take a step back and realize that the life they were imagining or dreaming as a kid may not be the life they are now living.

You have to actually take a moment, and mourn the loss of what it was you thought you wanted. It's OK to mourn that, but you can't get stuck there.

You have to then make the best of what it is that has occurred, realizing that maybe, just maybe, someone else is at the helm.

Mallory said...

I have always been a believer that the funniest things in life are the things that you can relate to personally. I love that you write about those real life experiences that are so crazy, but totally relateable (is that a word?). I couldn't have imagined in my past what my life would be like now. But I do love where I am. And I love how funny everything is!

Sarah said...

You know I really do love my life right now. I have had a very rough time since having children. My husband and I were married for five years before having kids. We were very comfortable in our life. It took two years of trying to have our kids. We have twin girls. One has epilepsy, and the other is autistic. The were born at 26 weeks gestation, and they have always been difficult. I try to think of what I would go back and tell my 20 year old self... and I do believe that whatever I could pass on would have just scared me out of ever having kids. I do believe that having kids has been the best and the worse experience of my life. Children have the ability to bring you lower and yet lift you higher than you have ever been in your life. I have learned more, met more people, and cried more since having them than I ever did in my life before. I do wonder where I would be in my life if I had chosen different things, or chosen different people to be part of my life. If I had not met my husband at the age of 18, if I had decided to go to school earlier, if I had kept dating "the boy next door" but, I will never know because I really believe that I am where I am suppose to be.
I want you to know that I admire anyone who has the kind of gift you do with writing. I am not a good writer. I can express myself well when talking but cannot seem to get my ideas across when putting it down in print. You truly have a gift with words.

R Max said...

My 20 year old self would be amazed that I am eating Lunch in Paris and that I think $10,000 is not enough to buy a decent car.

Oh, and she'd be horrified at how much weight I (or rather, SHE) gained.

Debi (Dubs2007) said...

As much as I loved your "scripture" post, my favorite thing you said was telling my friend Beka to "burn the laundry and get back to scrapbooking".

It got me thinking about all the ways I should "burn the laundry" and enjoy life more, be happy.

If I had seen 10 years ago where I am now I would cry - not from dissappointment, but from gratitude. I never thought life could be this good. I never thought God could be this gracious. I never thought I deserved this/and still don't a lot.

DeNae said...

Thank you all for sharing your stories with me. What a treasure! I'm constantly amazed at two things about women: One, we feel guilty about EVERYTHING, and two, we manage, in the end to find some measure of joy in our unexpected lives.

You're all an inspiration to me. I'm going to come back to this page often, whenever I need a reminder of the power of gratitude and playing the hand you're dealt.

JBSquared said...

I love your blog, and love knowing that I'm not the only one who feels like my real life was backordered. You have by far the funniest, most poignant, most fun to read posts I've found.

As for me, I would certainly agree that life did not turn out quite the way I pictured (does it ever?) I thought I would "just" get married and have kids - no need for all those college classes and job searches. I never thought I would spend 7 YEARS trying to have those kids (and what on earth did I do with myself in the meantime?), or that they would finally turn up in the form of the cutest twin boys you've ever seen.

If I could go back and talk to my 20 year old self - I'd tell her to get off her duff and go to school - get a degree, find a job you love - find something fulfilling to do for the first 10 years of your marriage, 'cause parenting isn't gonna be it. And even though I am a mom now (and loving it), I won't be changing diapers forever and there should be more to me than that in the end, anyway. Hopefully there will be.

Well, better to learn these things at 33 than not at all, right? The biggest things I've learned are: time is to precious to waste & it's never too late to start. :)

KayKay :D said...

Dear DeNae,
My mother is a blurcker. After my sister married the son of Ramona Zabriskie she was reading Mona's Musings and was struck by the title of the link to your blog. We simply had to read it. We spent three hours laughing uproariously in our living room until the wee hours of the morning. We absolutely LOVE your blog now. I still am one of those twenty somethings, but I have to tell you, I think every plan I ever made was backordered. In the past two years I have meandered, with varying degree's of desperate passion, to over seven different majors finally landing on solid ground in the History department at BYUI, and then I was told that it was time to take a year off of school and make some money. Now I'm preparing to go on a mission-which I pray will be to China or somewhere nearabouts since one of those passionate flurries in University included courses in Mandarin Chinese. Not being in school and drowning in centuries past has opened up for me more mind space than I knew I was occupying, and I find myself constantly writing stories, essays, journals and odd little tidbits. It wasn't until I read your blog however, that I considered I could ever put them online. So now you know-you are an inspiration ;) Keep up the stories, you make my day every time you post!

Julie said...

I have seen your comments on several blogs and once I noticed that you commented on my BFF's blog (perpetualmommyexhaustion) I decided that I had to see what you were all about. I'm a little (okay, a LOT) OC so when I decide to read a blog I don't stick with the namby-pamby where-you-are-now stuff, I go back to the beginning. I started a few days ago and have made it this far by reading several a day.

One day, I'll tell you more about me or you can read what you like on one of my blogs. Blissful Bedlam is my family related and fun blog, but my Don't Call Me A Drama Queen blog will give you some insight, too.

This past week you have been this bright spot in my days, sometimes the only thing other than my new habit of daily scripture study that keeps me going. From what I can tell, you're about 15 years older than I am and it gives me hope that one day I, too, will send my babies out into the real world and have some much needed time in which my name isn't Mom.

Well, I'll keep in touch. I already feel like a close friend even though you don't know me. I'm off to birthday dinner with my good friend.

Thanks for all your words. The wise, the silly, the ginormous - I like it all.

P.S. I giggled out loud at the "my husband is a 'special' agent comment" - you are my kind of girl!