I have lived in the same neighborhood for almost 20 years. When we moved in we were a family of three that quickly bloomed into a family of five. My husband and I were both working when we moved in, and we were relatively financially comfortable. A couple of house projects and things we weren’t’ expecting caused a bit of stress but we made it through. After my oldest daughter turned one we made the decision that I would quit my job to be home with the kids. Our comfortable financial life soon became much less comfortable and far more pinched. We’d always been frugal and good with a budget, but this was a whole new ball game.
During those years I remember the common theme seemed to be “if we only had X more salary” or “if only that payment was X less.” Along those same lines, I think I was always looking to lose X pounds or get X more time to do X more projects. And I was continuously looking at my kids wishing they could do X thing faster (crawl, walk, go to school). It always seemed that whatever I was looking for was just out of reach.
Fast forward to now, and my family of five is now a family of four at home with one leaving the nest next year. I’ve been back at work for a few years now and we are enjoying some financial comfort again. We’ve been doing some long overdue house projects and have been talking to our new, young family neighbors about them. They always sigh and lament how they can’t do those projects yet and can’t wait till they have X more money or time to get them done. I just look at them and their small kids and wish I had X more years with my larger ones at home.
It’s funny. No matter where you are in life it’s the elusive X that keeps us all in a constant state of search. Searching for more time, for more money, for more health. I have some money now, but I don’t have time. I still have X pounds to lose, but, looking back at pictures from ten years ago, I wonder where those X pounds I wanted to lose were. I look at my big kids and wish for X more time with their smaller selves.
It’s a bit like always looking for the treasure that is buried under the X on a map. It’s always just a little out of reach and hard to obtain, but it doesn’t keep us from looking for it. Did you know that the fabled “X marks the spot” and the treasure map of yore are not real? Captain Kidd made them up to keep himself from getting executed in the hopes that people would be so intrigued by where the X was that they’d keep him around. And here we are, still searching for the X.
I’m making a concentrated effort to live in the moment and not to wish away time. But that X. It gets me every time. It’s like the X on the treasure map that can never be found. Maybe there’s a lesson in that. If only I was just X smarter.