Before I wrote this post – an update on my New Year’s resolution – I reread my post from the first week of January. Honestly, I’m kind of impressed with my January self. Poised on the edge of a tumultuous year, I managed to find a moment of introspection that would prove all too rare in the months that followed.
In six weeks my oldest child will go to college. In two weeks, my book will launch. Back in January, during that inert post-holiday week when children sleep late, the tree slowly dies, and ornaments sag listlessly from its branches, I wrote this:
When I look at this year that yawns open before me, with all its loud milestones and camera-ready moments and fraught expectations, I have only one resolution, and that is to slow down and live in it. Not just live it, but live in it, and never ask where a single moment has gone.
Six months later, I’ve managed to find another quiet space in which to breathe, and I’m using it to ask myself: have I lived in every moment?
Yes. I felt the hot metal of the chair on my legs as I watched my daughter cross the stage to get her diploma. I watched the breeze toy with the tendrils that teased from the bun that tried to trap them. I saw the footprints her Doc Martins left in the gravel. I lived in that moment.
Yes. Today I held my final, printed book in my hands for the first time. Its cover is smooth, the colors rich and deep. I smelled the pages, and they smelled like a library. The black words are crisp on the white pages–most of them written before my daughter could drive. I lived in that moment.
But my July self knows something my January self didn’t quite comprehend. In January, with the sanguinity of an author still in the editing stage, I told my future self to enjoy the journey to publication. There will be launch parties, readings, nerve-wracking sales numbers, good reviews, bad reviews, book tours, conferences, joys, and disappointments, I told myself. Take it all, good and bad, as part of the experience. That was good advice. There will, in fact, be a launch party. There are readings scheduled. I’ve gotten some good reviews, and they felt great. I’ve gotten my first one-star review on Goodreads, and it felt terrible. I’ve held my finished book in my hand, and it felt awesome.
Yet in the midst of all this emotional chaos, there was also a graduation ceremony, a fancy dinner, and a prom. There are comforters to pick out, shoe caddies and shower caddies to amass, and tuition checks to write. There is a clock that ticks away the days, from 62 to 54 to 49. And this is what my July self knows: my book is not even close to the biggest thing that will happen to me this year. That will happen when I kiss my daughter goodbye on August 25 and drive home in an empty car.
Launching a book? It’s a miracle. An emotional thrill ride of hope and anxiety and joy, and every moment of that journey is one to savor. But it’s nothing compared to launching a daughter. The moments that mark the end of her childhood, salted with promise and sweetened with nostalgia, are not to be savored. They are to be devoured. And these are the moments I will live in, all of the 49 days that remain.