Monday, February 11, 2013

The Mean Times

My husband and I recently gave away our first set of dishes. Not our wedding dishes - the overprices, impractical things we received as gifts - but the $25 kitchen-in-a-box dishes that carried him from bachelorhood to marital bliss. We gave them to two motherless college boys who make you say "oh, honey," to just about everything they do. It's a good home and I'm happy to make room in my cupboards. Yet I admit that part of me is sad to see them go. Not because of the dishes, but because of what they carried us through.

In the space between when a dream is born and when it comes into being is what we call the Mean Times. We came up with this phrase in part because those times are cruel, but also because what you do in the mean time is important. The Mean Times come and go through out life. The summer between high school and college was a Mean Time for me, a space of expectation and waiting. The two years of our engagement, particularly the 15 months we spent on separate sides of the country, was perhaps the meanest of the Mean Times. They come in smaller stretches too. The time between an interview and a job offer. The time between when a query is sent and when an agent responds. The time between typing Chapter 1 and when a book appears on bookstore shelves.

The waiting hurts. The waiting teaches. The waiting tests our commitment to the dream. Those dishes, as simple as they are, fed us through our newly wed years, through buying our first home, the births of our children. They saw us through unemployment, sickness and celebration. Now, at 30 with a mortgage, two children and a beautiful set of service for 12, I no longer need the slightly chipped dishes that remain of the original set of four. Somehow I think I'm supposed to feel like I've arrived somewhere. Like I'm a grown up now.

Looking back at 21, at my newly wed dreams, I realize that the Mean Times will always be with me. There will always be another dream, another hope, another aspiration. I will always be waiting. And what I do with the space in between is vitally important to who I am and what I can accomplish. If I were to wait until everything is perfect and in place, until I've arrived, I'll reach my destination missing the luggage I need to stay or I'll never reach it at all.

As you move through life and search for meaning, value, purpose, don't neglect the lessons of the Mean Times. Never be in such a rush to meant a goal that you fail to prepare. Embrace the Mean Times and all they can teach you. You can't know the value of a chipped blue and white plate until you pass it along and realize that season in your life has passed.


  1. What an incredibly gorgeous post. The mean times can be mean, it's true. But they shape who we are when we're standing amidst the dream we've worked so hard for.

    You hit the nail on the head, honey. I'm proud to call you my friend.

  2. This is beautiful. And so true. I'm not the most patient person, and I could stand to read this post at least every few months to remind myself that waiting and working through the Mean Times will pay off.

    Thank you for writing this. *hugs*

  3. Lovely! These times are so hard and one day I'll look back at how much happened when I thought that nothing was. One day...