I’m not too advanced with my methods of listening to music. If it’s not the radio in the car, it’s Pandora on the web. And if it’s neither of those, it’s a good old-fashioned CD.
I have a handful of favorites that I haven’t gotten tired of hearing, like OneRepublic’s Waking Up, released in 2009. I can listen to it from beginning to end, some part of each song — whether lyrics or sound — moving me in some way.
I had it going in the car this past weekend, during a lengthy drive. But the point of my post is not that particular CD, it’s what I realized while listening to it.
Life changes. Weekly, monthly, every year.
We go through divorce or say goodbye to loved ones who pass away. We switch careers, watch our kids grow, in size and in maturity. Find new things that make us happy, people who add to the quality of our days. We make tough decisions about our personal lives, decisions that disappoint or excite and that mean better is ahead, and we improve and learn and become more of who we’re supposed to be. We hurt and we celebrate.
But the music, it doesn’t change.
As I drove last weekend, the same music blasting through the speakers as so many times over so many months—and a few years—I realized that’s the magic of music. It’s not just a representation of personal taste, of entertainment, but also of emotion and existence.
The music I listen to, unchanging and powerful, ties my life together, each song a thread through who I was a few years ago into who I am today. It’s all I’ve been through and all I’ve accomplished, plus my potential, bound by music that affects me to my core.
I think that’s beautiful.
My family was blessed to attend my mother’s retirement party last week. In an earlier post, I marveled at discovering another side of my now deceased father. Last week, thanks to the generosity of her coworkers, I was treated to a similar discovery with my mom.
I remember when my mom first went to work, back in the dark ages when I was in fifth grade. She’d stayed at home with me and my sister, serving as room mom, on the PTA, and as team mom for our various softball teams. I knew who she was back then–she was my mom–begrudging cook, housekeeper, laundress, dutiful wife, and shoulder to cry on. I remember being unhappy that she wouldn’t be home after school, but with little say in the matter, I was forced to adjust and get on with life.
When we paid our first visit to Mom at work, I got the shock of my life. She wasn’t just my mom anymore! She was an employee, a co-worker, and a friend to people I’d never met. Suddenly, the box I’d placed her in seemed bursting at the edges. I had to put her in a new box, this one bigger and not so familiar.
Then we moved to Georgia and Mom got another job. A different job. This time she had a desk and a lot more responsibility. She worked as long and hard as my father. Humm… The box was getting full again, but I was a teenager and didn’t take much notice. Sometimes I did, like when I had to make my own food, but otherwise, she was still Mom.
And so it went, different jobs, different desks, different coworkers. She just kept chugging along, working well past when my dad retired. Working past his death (thank God), and working until a milestone birthday when she finally called it quits. Well, not totally. She’s already arranged a part-time job so she doesn’t go stir crazy in her golden years.
Even though I’m an adult now with kids of my own, I was still surprised to hear the ways my mom has touched others at her retirement party. She stood in the center of all that attention, embarrassed, downplaying her accomplishments, and I sat there once again thinking, Who are you? But that’s the beauty of this thing called life. It changes, people change, and that’s okay. Sometimes, it’s better than okay. My mom is more than my mom–she’s her own person and she’s changing every day. Maybe someday she’ll retire again and I’ll have the opportunity to discover yet another side of her I never knew existed. Wouldn’t that be grand?
Change can happen in a moment. A mere moment.
A song on the radio, full of nostalgia and a great beat, can pull you from the grumpies.
You can meet someone for the first time, and know in an instant that they’re going to be significant.
A bonus, or pay increase, discovered on a paycheck can suddenly lift a hovering financial stress.
Death, a last breath. That is changing.
Words expressed—and misinterpreted—in a matter of seconds can wound, confuse, strain a relationship.
A smile at (or from) a stranger can spin a mood.
I don’t have deep or extensive thoughts this morning, this is it. Just thinking on change, small change. Which can turn out to be so big, if you’re paying attention.
Before this week is done, time will mark two years since the day I stood in court and was granted a dissolution of marriage. I could feel my heart in my ears, my neck was red and splotchy. I had never wanted something so badly, and my spirit had never needed anything more.
Two years. Calendar-wise I know that’s nothing. A blip when compared against the fullness of life. But when I think about what I’ve gained in these twenty-four months, I am humbled. And so thankful.
Perspective. Acceptance. Peace. Self-confidence. Clarity. Growth. Responsibility. Beginnings. Independence. Release. Courage. Strength. Freedom.
I have leaned on family and friends. Immersed myself in resources like Since My Divorce and Divorced Moms. Relived the marriage, analyzed why it failed, and why I needed out for my own health, and my daughters’ sakes. I have let go of regret, guilt, judgment.
I have transitioned from stay-at-home mom and wife to single mom who works full-time. I’ve learned what it means to be in charge of everything. How to rely on Janna, listen to that inner voice, trust myself.
I have talked to and casually dated men, each of whom has played a role in this process of mine. Through them I’ve learned more about who I am, about what I deserve, and what I both want and need in a romantic future. And I have found faith in what will be. Nevermind what was.
I have embraced my single status. I do things for myself, relish the quiet, make the most of my “me time.”
What I’m most proud of, what I’m most grateful for, is the strength of my relationship with my two girls. We have been through a lot, but have held on tight. If I’d done all I mentioned above and lost sight of my girls and their needs, I’d have failed. But I haven’t failed. I have graduated from victim and divorcee to healthy woman and mom. I’m happy. I feel like I should celebrate!
And I wonder what awaits me in the two years ahead. I can hardly wait to see.