My Incredible Shrinking Life

Posted on June 19, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Ever notice how, as we grow older, everything around us seems to get smaller? For instance, I drove past my childhood home, a house that was big enough (barely) for our family of six back in the day, but I was amazed at just how tiny it looked to me today. Have houses grown larger over the years, or has my perception changed, or maybe, both?

My husband was getting dressed to go golfing and put on a pair of shorts he hasn’t worn since last summer.  They didn’t fit. He pulled out another pair. They didn’t fit, either. He continued his try-on session, making stacks–shorts that don’t fit and ones that barely do. The stack that didn’t fit was growing by leaps and bounds, while the other one seemed to be getting smaller by the minute. While I tried not to laugh, I smiled and said, “Well, now we know what you need for Father’s Day.”  His response:  “Buy me clothes that don’t shrink next time.”

It was fitting.  Finally, I found some satisfaction from years of yo-yo sizing my wardrobe. Pregnancies, age, holidays, and even that time of the month will jet set me into another size in a heartbeat. But I think there’s more to it than that – I believe our closets are incredible shrinking machines.

Our house appears to be one, too. We moved into it because it was large, four bedrooms and two baths! There would be plenty of room for our family to grow. And grow it did. From a family of four when we moved in, we became a family of six. But, once again, we’re shrinking, too. Our oldest moved away and is getting married, so now our home only contains five people and all of their stuff. But yet, it’s bursting at the seams and seems to get fuller everyday. How can that be? Do houses shrink? They must, either that or the laundry that’s stacked up actually is multiplying by three every time I come back to it.

While my waistline is thickening, I’m shrinking – at least that’s what the kids say. “Mom, are you getting shorter? I’m taller than you!” Words that no one likes to hear, I assure you. Am I shorter than I was?  Have I been in that closet enough that I also became a victim of its incredible shrinking tendencies?  Common sense tells me that the kids got taller, but did they have to do such a good job at it? Heather’s 5’11” – I look up to her in more ways than one. Sam, Emily, and I are eye to eye, and Meridith, well, at least one child still has to look up to me. 

I think my career is shrinking, too. When I started writing, I wrote anything and everything, taking whatever jobs I could get for a buck. But now, I’ve decided to specialize. I want to write under my own name and concentrate on a specific genre of writing for my clients. So, my client roster is shrinking. I’m hoping that by downsizing, I’ll grow because I can focus on what I do best, not on what I don’t particularly love.

I wonder if the same thing will work for my wardrobe, my house, and my husband. If we downsize in certain areas, will we grow or will things begin to look smaller? Will I find out that my childhood home looks smaller because my perception of the world got larger, or is it because maybe, just maybe, I have a present and future that are more fulfilling than the past? Maybe that house seems small because now I realize that it is just a house and it took a family to make it a large, loving home.

When I find the answers, I’ll let you know. Til then, I think I’m gonna stick a couple kids in that closet. What I’d give to go back in time, where the kids were smaller and my life, somehow, had a more defined purpose,  and a lot more laughter.

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