Look at these happy young people, all dressed up for the Navy Ball and having a grand old time. That's me in the blue maternity dress. My oldest son was about eleven months old at the time, and I was about four months pregnant with son #2. My dashing, mustachioed Naval Aviator husband--Holy Cow, he was a handsome devil!--is the one on the far right. (Wow, it's true what they say about a man in uniform. Be still my heart!) This dinner-dance took place shortly before my husband's squadron was due to head out on its four-month cruise to the Indian Ocean, so there we were: celebrating a rare night out, without babies, with the couple who were our dearest friends in the early days of our marriage (and a random single guy who jumped into the shot--and looks like he may have had one too many!). While the military life is not for the faint of heart and requires much sacrifice from its members and their families, my husband and I have many fond memories of our Navy days: of the comfortable and secure life it provided as we set out into the grown-up world and started our family, and of the many wonderful Navy people we were privileged to meet.
When this picture was taken, my husband and I were only 26 years old. This seemed plenty long in the tooth at the time, but now seems impossibly young. The amazing thing is that the son I was carrying in my womb at that Navy Ball in the fall of 1984--the ball we attended YESTERDAY--is 26 now, and will turn 27 in a matter of months. He is older than his parents were here! How did that happen? And why wasn't I consulted about this turn of events? And when did my husband and I get so OLD?
Now that I'm much older and wiser (I hope), I'd like to tell the girl in this picture a few things I've learned along the way. I'd like to tell her to STOP WORRYING so much, about things over which she had no control and about things she was afraid might happen but never did. I would advise her to worry a lot less and pray a lot more. I tell you, I should have always carried with me a copy of that prayer that says, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I've always been such a worry-wart. Once, the mother of one of my oldest son's grade school friends said to me, "You're such a fretter." That sort of bugged me, and I went home to my husband and asked, "Do you think I'm a fretter? I don't fret too much, do I?" Hmmm. Methinks my friend may have been onto something, because her comment caused me to worry...that people perceived me as a worrier!
I'd also like to tell the girl in this picture not to be so hard on herself--about weight fluctuations and physical flaws and all the other silly things women like to beat themselves up about. I would tell her to enjoy her youth while she had it, because she had no idea how much worse it was going to get once her metabolism slowed to a snail's pace and her body began to lose its battle with gravity. It's true what they say: youth is wasted on the young! They don't know what they've got 'til it's gone, as the song goes.
And finally, I'd remind this young mother to savor EVERY SINGLE SECOND with her five greatest gifts, her sons--even those trying, "I've had it up to here" times, when bedtime seemed like the only thing that stood between her and the looney bin. She wouldn't have believed me, but I'd tell her that one day she would turn her back for one minute and those little boys would be all grown up.
I'm afraid this post has ended up sounding a bit maudlin, but that wasn't my intention. Looking at this photo truly does bring back some really happy memories of the way we were. You know--misty water-colored memories, and so forth.