When I finished signing my name on what seemed like the hundredth document, I couldn’t help but let out a little giggle. I should explain, there was nothing giddy or even happy-go-lucky about the laugh. It was more of a “what in God’s good name have we done?” snicker.
And then I let out another and another.
I was in my mid-twenties, had been married only a year or so, and with my wife had just put down the paltry few dollars we had saved up as working adults on a small house. The realtor in a machine-like rat-a-tat fashion kept putting one document after another in front of us to sign. First came the purchase agreement, then the home inspection report and on and on it went until it felt like we had signed our life away.
My wife and I walked out of the office in shock. When we were by ourselves in the quiet of our car, I looked over at my wife and asked asked what had we done? Oh, we were ready for the house and the financial obligation that came with it. We had quickly outgrown our tiny one-bedroom apartment. In addition, we had a baby on the way that would soon make the apartment feel even more claustrophobic.
We were ready to move onto the next stage of our life, but we couldn’t fight the feeling that we had just signed our lives away. Whether I loved or hated my new job, I would have to make it work. I couldn’t decide one day to pick up and leave. I would have to make things work no matter what. I had bigger things to worry about now. My wife and family-to-be were counting on me.
When the cyclone rips through Dorothy’s world in the The Wizard of Oz and lands her at the start of the yellow brick road, she says, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” My wife and I felt too that we weren’t in Kansas anymore.
In one swift move, we had graduated to adulthood. Despite our worries, we kept our wits about us, took a deep breath, and reminded ourselves of our vows to make things work for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
Here’s the funny thing: We’ve been in that house now for twenty-some years. We’ve celebrated some of our happiest moments in that house and it’s no longer just a house. We turned it into a home.
I’m not sure what made me think about that long-forgotten memory, but I’ve been thinking in recent weeks about The Wizard of Oz moments that we all face in our lives—the moments when the reality of the situation catches up to us and starts to sink in.
We all have a few of these moments in our lives. Here’s a few that jump out for me:
–When I held my baby girl for the first time and realized that it was one thing to soak up the book What To Expect When You’re Expecting and another thing entirely to have your newborn in your arms and reliant on you for everything. Yes, everything. Of course, when I whispered my baby’s name in her ear ever so quietly in the noisy hospital room and she instantly hushed to listen to me, whatever concerns I had about fatherhood vanished forever from my mind.
–Seeing two of our babies grow up before our eyes and start off on their own life’s work, whether it’s been dropping them off at college for the first time or at the airport for some new adventure. After one recent weekend, where we got a call from my oldest son on Sunday, and then a video call the very next day from our daughter, I looked over to my wife and asked, “when did they become so mature?”
–The accident happened so fast. I was in the middle of the crash and it was already playing back in slow motion in my mind. I took a deep breath. I knew our car was damaged pretty badly, but I was trying to figure out if anyone in the car was hurt. I put my hands to my face and then to my side. Yes, I was shaken, but basically unscathed. My daughter in the back seat quickly said she was fine. I looked over to my wife. I feared the worse. She had banged her knee in the accident, but she said she was fine too. Yes, Toto, we were not in Kansas anymore, but, wherever we were, we had survived.
When Wizard of Oz Moments hit, they hit you hard, but take a deep breath—that’s how you survive, one breadth at a time.
What Wizard of Oz moments have you experienced?