We’re a nerdy group here in the Smith house. We go to bookstores….for FUN! We have favorite bookstores scattered throughout the U.S. in various places that we’ve visited. Most are quaint little shops that we happened upon by chance but now have us hooked as customers for life.
One such store lies just off of downtown Casper, Wyoming. Guy and I happened upon it during one of his first trips to the College National Finals Rodeo as the head rodeo coach of a team that boasts some very talented alumni. It has become a requisite stop. “Wind City Books” is especially fun because the owner has placed index cards with details meant to entice and inform her customers within the books that she’s read. When I am unable to make the trip to Casper, Guy asks the owner for recommendations for his wife, and he always brings home a good read or two.
Last year, the husband brought home a real winner – What Alice Forgot. Oh, what a book! I read quite a bit and not all of the books stay with me, but I’ve not forgotten the basis of this book and doubt that I ever will. In recent days, the lesson of this book has come back and hit me right in the heart!
This may take a little explaining. Bear with me, and I’ll try not to spoil the book for you in the process. In, What Alice Forgot the readers are introduced to a middle aged mom who loses her memory in an accident. The kicker is that Alice wakes up and thinks that she’s 10 years younger than her actual age of 39. At 29, she is happily married to a man she adores and expecting her first child. In my splendid imagination, I can see Alice clearly. She’s lounging in the front yard, waiting on her perfect, handsome husband to come home from a job he loves, all the while sipping lemonade and rubbing her pregnant belly while butterflies flit around her. These are the best of days for Alice, life isn’t good, it’s fabulous! Ahhhh…..LOVE!
BUUUTTTT…though that is the world Alice remembers, she is not living in THAT world anymore. Oh no! The world which she woke up in, but that she CAN’T remember, looks a lot like mine…kids, husband, jobs, volunteering, commitments of every sort, friends, family, sports, extra-curricular school activities, lessons, homework, chores, etc. Alice is so wrapped-up in the constant chaos of her world that she has forgotten how in love she once was with her life. I KNOW many of you are very familiar with this world of which I speak. Poor Alice. Poor Me. Poor You!
Though I read this book over a year ago, its storyline recently hit home. As I write this, my kids are a little more than a week into the school year and I’m ready for summer break. Last week, “Summer Smiths” were shelved and we blew the dust off of “School Smiths”. School Smiths aren’t nearly as carefree and as fun as Summer Smiths. Summer Smiths love life, love each other, and approach each new day with vigor! School Smiths are best described with a visual….Sleepy the Dwarf comes to mind, as does Oscar the Grouch. We’re tired and irritable. We love each other, but only when there’s time, and there sure isn’t enough of that!
Yeah-yeah, over scheduled kids.
Blah-blah, too many activities.
Yada-yada, learn to say no.
I know! Trust me, I know!
In an effort to try to make Summer Smiths co-exist with School Smiths, we have cut-back our involvement in a variety of activities, clubs, and what we used to think were necessary obligations. However, somehow we still manage to get thrown into the spin cycle of life and find that we end up running the rat race more days than not, because the scheduling gods always seem to make sure that everything falls on the same day and generally there’s a small catastrophe of some sort thrown in to humor said gods.
The days of which I speak, go something like this: Someone has early morning practice. Someone has a game. Is the uniform clean? Someone better get the lunches packed. The dirty dishes are threatening to take over the kitchen, how can we pack lunches? The dirty clothes already took over the laundry room…kids, just step over them to find the socks you want in the dryer. Someone needs cash for the concession stand. Is the coffee done? A permission slip needs signed. Who has cash? Did you have homework?! Oh, no, we have dentist appointments today! Has anyone seen my purse? Who let the barn cat in? Mom, there’s dog poop in my bedroom….and it’s not even 7:30 a.m.
We have a lot of school year until summer break 2017, something has to give, which is why Alice’s story has been often on my mind and heavy on my heart in recent days. Maybe it would do me good to lose my short term memory, too, so that my more carefree past could remind me of all that is right in my world. In considering Alice’s and my situation, and knowing that we’ve already made many positive changes to our schedules, I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe it is my perspective on School Smiths that needs an adjustment. This theory came to mind when I happened to glance at a slip of paper that I have tacked to the cork board in my bathroom:
“A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”
My mom taped this quote to my bedside table many, many years ago while I was still in grade school, so I would see it each morning. Generally, it is my internal mantra, but, for whatever reason, I have never applied the concept to our little rat race…until now.
With that in mind, bring on the school year! I’m making an adjustment, not to our crazy schedule, but to my attitude. School Smiths are warmed-up and ready to go, and the matron of the house is ready to embrace the chaos and appreciate the opportunity to be hanging on for dear life with this crazy little family of mine!
Disclaimer: I have no ties to Liane Moriarty, the author of What Alice Forgot or to “Wind City Books”, but I wish I did! As well, though I’m prepared to change my mindset in regards to our chaos, I am not against random meals appearing at my door or a friend stopping in to help out with the laundry.