Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 16, 2015: Just an Ordinary Weekend?

Sunday night. 7:54 Mountain Time. Ordinary day? Ordinary weekend? Sure. But, seriously, what is ordinary any more?

Yesterday was a road trip to Fort Collins to check out Zach's new place. His new journey has begun. With sleeping kids in the back (and me nodding off on occasion in the front), we enjoyed our time with Zach and checking out Downtown Ft. Collins and and the Colorado State campus.

I did have a bit of an excuse for my own sleepiness on Saturday. Garrett and I hit a record late night for the two of us the night prior; up until 2:00 a.m. when we finally went to bed for the night. Enjoying friendships with two other Denver families, we made it through 2 of 3 drive-in movies on Friday night. With the first, Man from U.N.C.L.E., starting at 8:20, I was fortunate in my napping ways through part of Movie # 2, Ant-Man, as I already had seen it.

The outdoor movie viewing was a blast. Kids in jammies with a blow-up bed in the back of a pick-up truck. Adults bundled in blankets and hoodies on a warm summer night. The laughter and drive-in movie flashbacks were exceptional. My last drive-in movie was Footloose, the night of my senior prom. I enjoyed the outdoor movie experience, not so much the movie, with my dear high school friend, Bev Van Dam.

The joy of social media allowed the two of us to exchange messages on this Footloose memory. I remembered big permed hair with hair mouse applied around the ears. Bev remembered us making a batch of  'wobble water'. We both remember the cute LeMars boys from our neighboring town that attracted us to their movie theater.

A Friday night of sentimental bliss.

Saturday was a bit of the same with my grown son moved into his new digs, basking in his post-school independence. With his roommate not yet moved in and Zach still settling in alone, this brought back memories for me as well.

Once in my lifetime I lived alone. It was in 1986, the start of my sophomore year and the weekend in the Westmar dorms before all the other students moved in. I was a Student Ambassador, so was allowed back early to prepare for the new student welcome events. Excited to get out of my parents home, yearning for my independence, I moved in as early as I could.

Although campus was eerily quiet, I enjoyed long solo strolls through campus and grocery shopping for my mini-frig. It was all independent glory for me until the quiet of the night with no life to be heard outside my dorm window. I felt a ting of homesickness as I fell asleep in the lull of an empty campus. I never acknowledged this feeling until now. I won't ask my oldest, but I wonder if his new house gets quiet for him these early nights too.

I will never know, I am sure. But I can sure wonder.

On to our Sunday. A lot of ordinary. Church, errands, lunch. All with kids. A good day. My step son is switching schools. Ultimately a good thing, but a change. I reached out to an old friend for advice on the new school. Catching up was an unexpected guilty pleasure.

Diane raised her kids for their first half of school years in Omaha with mine and then she and her husband moved their family to Denver. Her advice to me on church and schools was invaluable. Her own daughter is going back to the same same school as my stepson this year, after a few years at a different school.

Hitting a little happy hour and some great conversation with my friend in Denver was a stark reminder to me of how much I value my long-time friendships. My many friends who have been faithful comrades on runs and outings, on the sidelines of sporting events, and 8th grade dances. And now our kids are all grown up (or just about) and so are we.

Talk now centers around how we handle our empty nests or close-to empty nests. Retirement and 'what next' is where our conversations end up. And I'm good with that. The journey has been long and hard fought in many ways. All good chapters need to come to an end. On to the next one. Here goes our journey into fall...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

August 15, 2015: Four Years Later

I posted this blog four years ago on the day we moved Zach out of the house to begin his freshman year of college. With blogged reflections on both myself and the unknowns of Zach's journey ahead, I am again reminded that regardless of the journey, people and the priorities around them are what matter most.

Who knew where four years would take both of us? Gun-school, Think Healthcare, homes in Colorado. None on either of our radars that August day four years back. A fun and fulfilling ride in this journey of life continues!

Zach is now a Phi Psi...all moved in to the fraternity house.
August 15, 2011

I do prescribe to the quote that life is like a box of chocolates.  You never really know what you are going to get or what each day has in store for you.  Today I took my oldest son to New Student Enrollment at UNL.  My vision of the day was me following up on my list of unanswered questions (When is tuition due?  How do we buy books? blah, blah, blah...) while Zach began his journey of independence by registering for his classes on his own.  In anticipation of a mindless day for mom with Zach taking the lead in organizing his life, I brought my I-Pad as a diversion.  But as I watched the seemingly corny videos introducing our student representatives, my day and thought process took an unexpected twist.  Instead of thoughtfully reflecting on Zach's next step into his adulthood, I was suddenly evaluating my own life journey from the golden age of 18.

Let me digress a bit.  The corny student video was actually put together quite well and highlighted the personalities of our student advisers.  It flashed up shots of these seven students who were assigned to new student orientation and highlighted the differences and diversities that existed between them.  I was a bit choked up hearing about these kids and their varying backgrounds and wide variety of dreams and accomplishments.  They were fresh faced; ready to conquer the world and begin their life journeys.  This so took me back to 1985 when I was the eager freshman in college ready to conquer the world as well.  Many of my goals and thirst for success in life were similar to theirs.  So the question that hit me like a brick was whether my 18 year old self would have been happy with the 43 year old woman I've become.  Had I satisfied my goals or have I given up on my dreams?  To be honest, I don't think in my last 25 years I have actually taken the time to assess my life journey to date.  It has been a nonstop whirlwind of college, career building, marriage, child bearing, child raising and now divorce and single parenthood.  So have I done what I set out to do at age 18?

My sudden thoughtful reflection on life was triggered not only by the video, but also by the sudden enthusiasm exhibited by my typically unenthusiastic son.  Zach has always been my "fly below radar" child.  He has gone through life in one gear...not the lowest, not the highest, but right in the middle.  And he has always been very comfortable in that gear.  But something has changed in him lately.  I have been observing a young man beginning to forge his way through life on his own.  There is a new found confidence in him as he takes charge of this next chapter in his journey.  And this is not without some head butting with a mom who is very used to pushing her first born and making decisions for him when he refuses to take charge himself.  But now Zach is molding into his own independent person.  This is something of which I can relate as I reflect back on my summer after graduation.  I too was yearning for college and forging my own destiny outside my home in Remsen. The taste of independence in thoughts, decision-making, and who I wanted to be as a person was exhilarating.

So how would I have stood up to my goals?  I have actually given this some thought which is substantiated by the 60some days that have past since Zach and I went to New Student Enrollment.  That day the paragraphs above flowed from my mind to my fingers almost faster than I could type them.  But writing the answer to my question caused me to pause.  I had actually written a bunch of "blah,blah,blah" that felt and sounded a lot like a valedictorian graduation speech (which would have been completely inappropriate since I was just the salutatorian).  And it just plain didn't feel right, so I erased what I wrote and I have pondered this thought over the last two months before it all became clear in my mind.

Zach's mom - Graduation 1985

So the honest answer on whether 18 year old Sandy Wagner would have thought I reached the goals I had set out to accomplish....not a chance.  I would have expected myself to be enjoying a jet-setting, high society lifestyle in a power position with sabbaticals full of feeding starving babies in Africa and accepting a Nobel Peace prize.  I guess my point is that I would have found myself incredibly drab and an underachiever based on my eighteen year old standards.  Do I feel like a failure or have the urge to reignite goals of the past?  Not a chance.  A simple reality in life is that you don't know what you don't know.  I haven't changed as a person, but twenty-five years later, I do have a better definition of what really matters in my life. I believe that it is the life experiences and human interactions that mold us into the people we become.  These experiences and interactions have shaped my priorities.  They have tested my faith and helped me properly value my accomplishments, big and small.  And, yes, life has been very good to me.  I am happy to be an active participant.

Zach - Graduation 2011
So, Zach Lane (here goes the commencement speech part), set your goals high and enjoy the ride, but always reflect on your journey.  Praise God for your blessings every day and generously share your blessings with others.  Always remember that people don't change; priorities change.  And know that it is okay to change the course a bit along the way.  Everybody can make a difference in the world and in the lives of others as long as they choose to be an active and positive participant.  I am very much looking forward to seeing the person you become in twenty-five years.  I have no doubt that it will be a good run.