The Unexpected Turn

Eliza Clark
April 23, 2012

Spring is not just the season of flowers and butterflies; it is also the season of reunions. Many of us parents are being beckoned back to our high schools and colleges to celebrate ten, fifteen, twenty or even twenty-five (gasp!) years gone by since we graduated. It’s a time to recollect, to reflect, and to put together a narrative of sorts about what we’ve been up to in the intervening years.

When I listen to my classmates’ accounts of their lives so far, I am always drawn to the same sorts of stories: those that feature the unexpected turn. Those along the lines of “I never thought this is how my life would turn out… but I’m happy.” Of course, with that opener, we want to know more. Why? What happened? The unexpected turn is as intriguing in real people’s lives as it is in fiction.

For many a reunion-goer, the most unexpected turn of all has been the birth of a child. No matter how commonplace it is to start a family when you are somewhere between the ages of twenty-five and fifty, it still seems to feel like a mind-blowing miracle to each and every new parent. However much we’ve planned for them, these kids always surprise us. They’re brand new, different from anyone else, and bound to take our lives and hearts and bend them in ways we never imagined.

Just as we are riveted to hear about our classmates’ lives, our small children also love listening to stories of unexpected turns. They are captivated, of course, by their own birth-stories and how they changed their parents’ lives forever. But they’ll also gobble up any kind of book or movie that features hairpin plot-twists, sudden reversals, and surprise endings. (More on those books and movies in tomorrow’s post.)

Our kids are also already on the lookout for plot-twists in their own lives. My eight-year-old daughter, for one, has taken to asking me this question every Sunday night: “Mommy, is anything new and exciting happening this week?”

I’ve gotten used to the question, and my answer is generally the same: “We’ll just have to wait and see.” Because that’s the way it is with unexpected turns, isn’t it?

From the Parents

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