The only plan I've made for this rapidly approaching and highly touted New Year's Eve is not to travel. I'm sure our family will mark the occasion with deserved significance, but for the moment, the notion of the year 2000 remains an impersonal, though, yes, momentous, concept.
I picture myself, all of us, on a gigantic, sleek ocean liner gliding slowly but ceaselessly forward towards the end of 1999. I am seeing the scene from below, and I feel very small as the bow of the ship towers over me. Between 1999 and 2000 there is a wall, not too thick or tall, rather like an office divider in that sea of time, blocking our view of what's on the other side. At the end of the millennium, the ocean liner will cruise right through the wall into the 21st century.
Day to day, things will carry on as usual (barring any Y2K disruptions), as we sigh a combination of wonderment and relief and go about our business. But we'll all know it happened, that we really rolled over into 2000; we'll all remember where we were and what we were doing at that particular stroke of midnight.
Marking such a date forces a look forward, speculation about what the future holds. If we're lucky, at age 46, my husband and I are about half way through a good, long life. My daughters, now 11 and 13, are right on the cusp of adolescence, excited but still young enough to spend most of their time safely at home and at school. I look ahead to their growing independence; I try to share their excitement, but more often than not I'm terrified.
And sad. In such a short time, they've grown up from the tiny babies whom I watched in amazement most of my early days as a mother. Their world then was their parents and their immediate surroundings, and in retrospect, life was simple. Now they are becoming their own young women, unique and admirable in so many ways, but also separate from each other and from us. The lure of the rest of the world entices them, invites them, and they have to go. But there's no way they can't take a chunk of my heart with them when they do. Looking into the years beyond 2000, I see the time when my still-young daughters will grow up and leave me behind.
I consider my own goals, crystallizing as they never did when I was younger, ironically just now as I am beginning to comprehend the constraints of time. I measure the remaining years, discounting my first two decades because I was still a child, excusing the confusion of my 20s, and reassuring myself that I still have more productive time ahead than behind. I recognize and respect more than ever before my desire to be doing what I consider worthwhile, to fill as much of my hours with the satisfaction I derive from that work, as opposed to the numerous other activities that I consider distraction and wasted time.
I tell my girls I am trying to show them the wonders of the world, to filter what I deem to be less worthy from what I consider worthwhile, and to expose them to as much as I can of what I feel will enrich them. I warn them about chaos and lies, my own judgments not always agreeing with theirs.
As we pass through this milestone of time, I am more determined than ever to bring to my daughters what I have learned and what I value, to show them, surround them with it, so that as they, too, go forward, they'll be drenched in what it offers. Likely as not, they won't accept it now, but later on, later in the 21st century when perhaps it is I who have left them behind, I can only hope they will recognize it when they find it.