It’s 8 am. I’ve just bid farewell to my five-year-old boy and watched him trudge out the door to catch his ride to school. I survey the wreckage that defines my house: magic markers, pajamas, cheerios, paper airplanes, all strewn across the floor. It’s quiet – just the buzz of the air conditioner fills the space. And now would be a perfect time to do the dishes. But I have more lofty thoughts.

Today is my birthday.

And I acknowledge that I’m no longer young. Not that I’m old. But I’m approaching “mid-life.”

My once-upon-dreams of becoming a famous novelist by age 23 (like Carson McCullers) or the president of a company before age 30 or becoming an Olympic gold medalist have faded.

Doesn’t every child dream of being something extraordinary?

I will never be filthy rich or ridiculously famous for some ingenious thing I invented. I will never be a size two and I will never have hair down to my waist.

I can’t go back in time and smear on sunblock when ever I stepped outside. I missed my chance to get a PhD and never did make it to Broadway.

And whatever I put on hold 20 years ago is still on hold.

My mother used to say that nothing is engraved in stone. But that’s not true. Everything is. Every decision we make or fail to make, every path we choose, where ever we go in our lives — there’s no turning back, there’s no sanding the stone smooth until the choices we made disappear.

Our life is full of engravings.

I wander around the house. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m grateful to be alive and in good health, I would be melancholy, hankering for all those things I had wanted to do but never did, and for not being where I thought I had the potential to be in life.

For being … mediocre.

As I meander through the house, bemoaning missed opportunities and the ordinariness of it all, wondering if I’m having a mid-life crisis, I remember an extraordinary conversation I had with my 10-year-old son this morning.

“I want to work on my brachas (blessings before food),” he told me. “Can we do a prize chart to help motivate me?”

“What a great idea. And just in time for Elul.” I am reminded that Rosh Hashanah is fast approaching and with that the call of the shofar for self-improvement.

“But please don’t tell anyone,” he said embarrassed. “I’m so old. I should have done this a long time ago.”

I chuckled. The kid is only ten! He’s got years to improve himself, to achieve his goals. And he thinks he’s too old!

“Poppy, your great grandfather, started putting on tefillin when he was 92 years old! You’re never too old to make changes,” I told him.

I head back to the sink piled with dishes and left over gook from last night’s dinner, trying to be grateful for the mess that comes with life. I envision a stone -- chiseled, uneven, indented and engraved. And I say to myself, that stone is definitely more interesting than one that is perfectly sanded and smoothed out. It may not be a diamond, but it has its own beauty, its own profundity.

I may not have become what my childhood mind envisioned, but children grow up and dreams change. And missed opportunities are replaced with new ones. With adult ones. With mid-life ones.

Suddenly, I hear the sound of a shofar being blown from my neighbor’s house as he practices for the big day.

And I remind myself that in God’s world, it’s never too late.