Monday, July 5, 2010

At the Crossroads Revisited

I wrote this a year ago when I was feeling quite adrift as I anticipated the job of full time mothering coming to an end. 

A year from now my son will be preparing to go away to college and while I am thinking about if I've done enough to get him ready for the next step in his life, I'm also wondering if I've done enough to get myself ready for the next step in mine.The mission over the last 24 years has been a clearly defined one, but nearing completion and with an exit strategy in place I'm at a cross roads. Does anyone else remember that feeling of having your whole life ahead of you and feeling as if you could do anything? I believe it's called youth. Then, something happens. A little something called life, or experience, or reality. We wake up one day with children and a mortgage and a spouse, or maybe visiting rights, alimony and an ex, the job that never turned into the career you hoped for or any number of the countless curves life throws our way. Whatever your story is you know what I am talking about. At some point along the way we stop dreaming about saving the world and we just start trying to save our day. The problem is while we are just trying to get through the day we are getting through our lives. One day at a time...pouring the cereal, driving to baseball practice, checking the homework... it seems endless. Until the day of course that it ends and then we wonder how it all slipped by so quickly. We see the horizon that we only dreamed about when the kids refused to take naps or cried over braces. We wonder; what now?

Just when I feel as if I have this wife and mother thing down pat everything is about to change. Life is like that. I've just spent over two decades saying "Be careful". I wonder how many times I have said that. I would guess thousands and thousands. I'm a mom, I can't help it. As parents we are so afraid that our children are going to be reckless and irresponsible we forget that we want them to be brave. We may say it before they get a shot or have to give a speech in class but how often are we really inviting our children (or ourselves) to be...daring. There are times in life when what we need is a little caution thrown to the wind, when nothing less will do . No new land was ever discovered because someone was perfectly content at home. Nothing new was ever invented because someone thought things were good enough the way they were. When reading the Bible it's astonishing to note how many times God tells his followers to leave the comforts of home and go to a new place, shake things up with completely new ideas, be unlike everyone around them and then tells them to not be afraid while doing all of this! So while we often take time out for the cliche "reality check" I'm taking a different kind of inventory and hoping to rediscover some of the courage of my lost youth. I didn't really "lose" my youth though, neither did you. We spent it.

What I spent the last 24 yrs. doing was bringing up two free thinking individuals who have their own thoughts on making the world a better place. While one tends to be more cautious and the other is the adventure seeker, they both have compassion and a healthy dose of moral courage. As conscientious moms and dads we may be having more impact than we think. Could it be that I was making the world slightly better while I was making dinner and reminding them to search for the truth, work toward gaining hearts of wisdom and to question everything? How about warning them never to give up your right to think for yourself to anyone: a religious leader, a politician, a friend? Because once you do that you are just a slave. If the definition of power is strength over time then maybe the day in and day out of parenting is at least equal to if not more powerful than one or two notable acts of courage. I'm on a quest for what to do with the next part of my life but whatever I decide on, I don't see how it could be any more important, require more commitment, or be as fulfilling as the job I'll be finishing up over the next few months.

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