As I reflect back on the first “episodes” of “season 54” of my life, I definitely feel like the writer(s) are just tossing in random plotlines to keep things interesting.
I was still following the plot when we hit a pandemic. Sure, once the whole world shut down, it felt a bit like things had “jumped the shark” as far as storylines go. It was a reach but after a point, it seemed … believable.
As an aside, “jumped the shark” is a phrase generally used to identify the point when a long-running television series has just gone ahead and gotten silly. The phrase refers to an episode of the popular sitcom, “Happy Days,” in which a leather jacket-clad Fonzie is water skiing and literally jumps over a shark — a cliffhanger that made absolutely no sense at all.
In that sense, did anyone have “worldwide pandemic” on their “big events” bingo card? No. Of course not. Still, we rallied. We stayed home, baked bread, we “Zoomed” online, and we definitely learned not to take our comfort, health or freedom for granted.
We emerged from our quarantine into mid-season programming that felt an awful lot like improv. Some of us went back out. Some of us stayed home. Storylines definitely varied.
Next came the season where both BoyWonder and GirlWonder graduated college on the same day. That was a heartwarming episode. They then moved out in such rapid succession that they shared a moving truck. Talk about emptying the nest!
Still, after over two decades of hands-on parenting, I was ready for hijinks and shenanigans the way I’ve been told happen once “empty nesters” get to really focus on themselves again. Would I take up dancing? Exercise more? Run a marathon? Learn to crochet? Scrapbook again? What hobby would I find to fill my nights? Spoiler alert: none of the above.
My exercise/hobby routine is channel surfing. I also enjoy book club (note: no books are read — we mostly eat cake). I listen to a lot of podcasts. Mostly about forensics and solving cold case crimes. If science had been this interesting during my school days I might have actually paid attention. I didn’t need yet another class on the hydrologic cycle. Solving a crime with evidence found on a shoelace 50 years earlier — fascinating and so handy too.
Basically, I didn’t develop any fascinating new hobbies, learn to skydive (or knit), or take up a new political cause. I became a “mom” to two of the cutest small dogs on the planet and one haughty but handsome cat. I went from “Parenthood” to “Animal Planet” seemingly overnight.
Otherwise, I have started this new season trying to count my blessings, but so many other suspenseful episodes challenged us.
Second wave pandemic? Check.
My active and healthy parent inexplicably has a stroke? Check (and shock). I loathed that storyline.
I had Covid long after Covid was cool? Check. By the time that developed, nothing really surprised me. I was numb to suspense. I had a long time to sit and think — often in hospital rooms and waiting rooms.
What I have decided is that time passes far more quickly than we realize. No hobby, interest, pastime, or career will be as important as the people you spend time with as you age. Love your people. That is your family.
Family does not necessarily mean you share DNA, by the way. It means you share dreams, values and commitments. Find those people (and pets) and love them hard. At the end of the show, the things you did, ate, drove and wore won’t be likely to be remembered. The cast of characters you surround yourselves with will be the most important part of your life.
It’s easy to list the challenges of the past few episodes. Our storylines were chaotic and sometimes unbelievable. On the other hand, I also have a plethora of blessings that I am truly grateful for. I just feel like I keep getting rewrites and scripts for things I was not adequately prepared for.
I’m grateful for the many moments of joy that triggered the “laugh track” of this somewhat trying season: GirlWonder’s wedding. BoyWonder’s new homeownership. My mother’s strength and recovery.
The past few seasons of life have been a wild ride for certain. Nonetheless, every day we wake up is a blessing — and every year our storyline is renewed is something to be thankful for.
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