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Dec 7, 2011

Sleeping Through Life

Bridges of Madison County

The book provides an crushing love story, and the movie offers two such gifted actors (which is a rare thing these days), Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

At different stages in my life, different parts of this story affect me. But always the character Francesca gets to me. Beyond the love story, she is a beautiful, educated, kind, simple, middle-aged wife, mother, farmer and teacher.

And she is present.

For example, she's sitting alone on the front porch one late night reading Yeats. It's so hot she's sweating, even at night wearing only a robe. Suddenly she stands up to face a breeze and opens her robe. Her robe flows behind her in the wind and her face shows an expression of, I don't know...of being alive. She is aware of herself, her mind, her body, the world around her. Alive. Present.

She says, "Just because someone chooses to settle down and have a family doesn't necessarily mean they're hypnotized. Just because I've never seen a gazelle stampede doesn't mean I'm asleep in my life."

Asleep in my life...that is profound to me.

She knows that the bliss and raw true emotions of having a family are equal to or greater than what someone living a life of "adventure" experiences. But she also realizes that being a mother and wife can be hypnotizing sometimes. Families bring joys and blessings that are incomparable, though often time right alongside the routines and ruts and schedules.

She also says, "When a woman makes the choice to marry, to have children; in one way her life begins but in another way it stops. You build a life of details. You become a mother, a wife, and you stop and stay steady so that your children can move. And when they leave they take your life of details with them. And then you're expected move again, only you don't remember what moves you because no-one has asked in so long. Not even yourself."

My God, it's amazing to me that a man wrote this.

Details, errands, schedules, responsibilities...days and weeks can be easily eaten away by these necessities.I see this in many of my friends' lives whose kids are older. Hell, my kids are very young and I'm already starting to experience this.

Socrates said something like the unexamined life is not worth living. I've always found truth in that. And I guess that's what I find so real and refreshing about Francesca's character. Even before this man stumbles into her life and changes her forever in an intense and tangible way; she's aware of herself and her mind. She's awake. Even through long hard days of farming and mothering and the mundane parts of living, she doesn't allow herself to be lost in it all.

I don't want to be lost in it all.

When Sam and Lena are grown, I don't want to have forgotten what moves me. I love my children and Rich to disgusting degrees. I would give my life for them without a second thought. Honestly. They bring me more joy and fulfillment than anything else I've ever known. They occupy my mind completely most days and I'm glad for that, I want that, I owe them that. They're my family.

But I don't want to give them so much of myself that there's nothing left of me when the kids are grown. I don't think with my introspective tendencies that would ever happen, but like I said before, my kids are very young. And I know parenting gets harder as they (and you) get older. Who knows what might happen. Or how much of me it will take to teach them and love them and guide them the right way. I'd rather be spent completely after presenting two loving and smart and faithful people to this world than to half-ass parent them and make their lives and this world worse just because I refused to do what needed to be done.

I'm rambling.

Here's my point. I will do whatever it takes to be the parent my kids need me to be. And I will pray that I don't lose myself in the process. Either way, I just don't ever want to be asleep in my life.


  1. Love this Nicole and it is very true. I give so much time to my family but I do always try to keep myself. That is why our "GWA" trip is so important. To many of those women that is their only stress-free weekend of the year. As my boys have grown older they need me more then when they were toddlers which I never was prepared for. I thought life got easier and now my days are filled with managing schedules, different dinner times, teachers & taxi cab. But I would never trade it for the world and try not to feel guilty if we have a "Girls Night" every few months :) I would love to read this book if you have it. I will check the library and try to reserve it if now.

  2. I've got the book somewhere around here, Amy. I'll dig it out for you.