I had the pleasure of meeting up with some old friends of mine from high school Saturday night. The occasion? One of the guys that I went to high school with, W, was home for a two-week R&R reprieve from Iraq, where he works for a private contractor on a U.S. Military base. I hadn’t seen him or the people who attended this gathering in years. More specifically, like twenty years. That’s what Facebook will do for you. It allows you to play an ever-so-small role in the lives of people you likely would have never seen again, and leave you with the feeling that you are friends. When in fact, you may have nothing whatsoever in common other than the address where you went to school twenty years ago.
The expected participants in this gathering intimidated me a little. Okay, a lot. 1. W got his Masters degree at LSU in History and Religion, and is quite possibly the smartest person I’ve ever met. He is entertaining plans to pursue his Ph.D. at LSU upon his return from overseas. 2. D, a close friend of the honoree, and also a classmate of mine, had flown in from his home near Washington, D.C., where he works as a lawyer for the military. In his spare time, I can only assume he must be working on his next book or article having something to do with Comparative Law and International Law, since that’s what he holds his Masters in. I’d have read his book already if I’d have thought that there was a snowball’s chance in hell that I’d understand any of it. 3. S, another expected attendee is a local business owner and entrepreneur with lots of irons in the fire. She’s very active in community projects and even helped launch a very successful nationwide fundraiser for the Gulf coast oil disaster during this past year. She’s currently working on marketing and launching her very own product. She and her husband (who also was in attendance) travel and seem to lead a very satisfying life.
Honestly, to say that I was intimidated is an understatement. I was scared shitless.
Here’s how my expectations of leaving this get-together with extreme feelings of inadequacy were met:
W is currently working in Iraq for a private contractor, and lives each day under fire, and being paid extraordinarily well for it. However, in my (most humble) opinion, whatever they are paying him is not enough. The risk of our country losing this man is too great a risk. Our conversation hit me hard, in that it made me appreciate the fact that when I bitch and moan about how stressful my day was, I’m really being a gigantic asshole. I mean, really? I’m stressed because I’ve got a lot of laundry to get done and I’m too tired to hold my eyes open because one of the little ones had a stomach bug last night. Really? How about real stress: Waking to the sound of gunfire every morning. And true exhaustion: Living and working in heat averaging 120 degrees in July. Get over yourself, Z, really.
I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hold a conversation with D because I’d have no idea what he was saying, or what to SAY to him, which turned out to be completely unwarranted. He’s down to earth and–get this–still speaks regular english, just like you and me. And as long as I kept W and D from speaking directly to one another, I understood everything that they said, and laughed at 90 percent of it. D spent some time in Iraq as well when being in Iraq was a terribly dangerous place to be on a daily basis. He’s seen and done so many things that I’m sure could be the source of a movie starring Matt Damon or Tom Cruise. And yet, he’s still the same guy I went to high school with. And he’s damn funny.
S was as friendly as she’s always been, and since she lives locally, I can see us becoming very good friends. She gave me a container of her new product, her own blend of spices she’s calling “Mexi-Cajun“, and told me her unique marketing strategy: “Give it a try. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut.” I love people with a sense of humor. Truly, I do. We are a dying breed, I tell you. Not to mention she looks like a million bucks.
There’s nothing like getting together with old friends from high school to make you take a few steps back and re-evaluate your life. Am I a failure because I graduated in the top 10% of my high school class, yet failed to complete my first year of college. I got sidetracked for a moment, and in that moment, I fell in love and got married…followed very closely by my first pregnancy, and the rest is history. However, instead of walking away from this night with the bad feelings associated with the long-overdue realization of having not lived up to my full potential, I was simply inspired to do MORE. I find myself in a place where I have to say that if motherhood is the hand I’ve been dealt (in all it’s multitudinous glory), then that’s my gig. While I often question why God chose me to care for these four human beings it’s time to give all that up and get to work. I may be raising a future JAG attorney, a future History Professor or a future Entrepreneur. Am I doing the very best job I can? Hardly. I can do better. How can I do better? How can I help them reach their full potential? Why not ask those who’ve gone before me? Those who had a hand in raising the people that we see as “successful”. There’s something about a well-rounded, successful person that begs the question, “What did his or her mother do right?” This led me to an exciting epiphany: I like to write. I like to interview people…get their life stories. Why not combine these interests with this quest to become a better mother? I’m going to seek out “successful” people, find out about their childhood, and when possible, interview their mothers. I’m going to write a book about people like me, who may have given up some dreams of their own, and came out with the greatest success of all: Happy children who grow up to be Successful people. I’ve read enough parenting and self-help books to tell you that there’s nothing like that out there. What do you think?
Anyway, I had a great time that night, and I look forward to hanging out with these people again sometime.
Oh, and if any of you steal my book idea, I’ll come straight to your house and throw a bunch of Mexi-Cajun Seasoning in your eye. If you like it, let me know. If not, keep your mouth shut.