I love you, Jane Goodall. I really do.
I am filled with envy every time I think about you going off to Africa in the 60’s to watch baboons and chimpanzees and eat from the forest. More than once I have said, “Why did God not choose me? I could have taken the silence, the nothingness, the moments of wondering what day it was. Can you imagine?
Growing up, I would see pictures of Jane in National Geographic and actually dream about myself in khaki shorts, a faded button-up shirt, my hair pulled back in a ponytail and a journal. As a mom, I actually long to be her some days.
No Spanx, no need to wear wedges or shave my legs, no annoying vuvuzela blowing during the World Cup, no weeds to pull, no dentist appointments to make…just me and the silence and the chimps.
Sometimes I go for months without thinking about you, sweet Jane Goodall and your Chimps. But about this time every year, I decide you took the easy way out. You aren’t having to keep children entertained when it is 103 degrees outside or wondering how you will stretch a pound of hamburger meat into a meal for 6 or why you are the only one that knows how to replace empty toilet paper rolls.
But, let’s face it, I have a job. A job that leaves me unsure of myself, frustrated and sometimes second-guessing God. I question myself every day and think about what I should have done differently. Being a mother is hard. Should I have had the girls earlier? Maybe we should have had two more? Have I loved them enough? Maybe we should have saved more, given more or asked more questions.
The best advice I got when the girls were younger was from an elderly man at the mall. It was Christmas time. The mall was packed and I needed that one item only the mall held. The oldest was 4 and the youngest was 8 months old and both were hungry, tired and just over it. I had already bribed, threatened and put myself in time out. Having had enough, I went against my better judgment and bought a bag of processed, sugar covered, gluten. We were sitting in the middle aisle on a bench outside of Restoration Hardware. As I was longing for the days when I would have nice things again, a man in his 80’s came and sat down next to us. He smiled and I’m sure he could see the worn look on my face. He asked what their ages were. With a sigh, I told him 4 years and 8 months. He then said something I have never forgotten. He smiled, shook his head and said, “Oh that’s my favorite age.” I looked at him like he had three eyes and honestly couldn’t even speak. Then he said, “Always let the age your kids are at be your favorite. Then you will never need to look back or ahead but can live in the moment.”
About this time, my oldest wiped her hands on the side of his pants and asked if he was as old as Moses.
Jane and the chimps flashed in my head again.
I have tried to live by his advice ever since.
Yes, I long to be Jane some days…but today, I’ll enjoy my favorite 19 and 16-year-olds. I’m off to enjoy handing out money for gas, lunch and a cute new skirt at The Gap.