Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Leap of Faith

Two women, two different parts of the world, both not knowing that I had a BLOG about kids leaving home, yesterday told be that they were now empty nesters. Well, to be fair, one is a full fledge empty-nester this year. The other just dropped her eldest off at college two weeks ago and still has another three years until she is officially an empty-nester. Both these women from very different places said the exact same thing.

"You mean you take care of them for 18 years and then they just leave?"

It's rather audacious of our children, isn't it? But, kids grow up and independent and we cheer them on. We try and be unselfish parents as we both encourage and promote self discovery, self worth, self reliance. We complain bitterly when they don't clean their rooms, remember their assignments, forget their manners. We try and help them navigate the pressures of middle school so they can enter high school with some shred of their self worth in tact. And we do our best to allow our kids the opportunity to try new things in a hopes they find out what they love and how to best care for the world around them. Just writing about this sounds exhausting. And we do this in 18 years. We started this process so long ago when we held their tiny hand in ours and helped them take their first tiny steps. The steps are a lot bigger now and a lot noisier, but we are still there in case they fall.

"So, you mean you hold their hand for 18 years and then they just let go?"

Unthinkable! How dare they cross the street with out us?

But this is nothing new. What I have discovered that seems terribly new, is that we are one interesting generation of women who have decided that at this moment in our lives we need to reinvent ourselves. Almost every single woman I talk to who is or about to become an empty nester, whether they have always worked during child rearing or not, feel like it is time to take charge of their life and try something new. I think this is both inspirational and also quite frightening.

We can do anything we want. That is the inspirational part. But what do we want to do? This is the frightening part. So many of us seem to be struggling with this part.

I watch the wonderful women around me. I take note. And the ones that are the most successful at this part of the journey are the women who don't think it to death. They have a certain sense of something they want to do and they just start along their path. They don't question every part of the path before they have stepped on it. I don't know if it comes from the years of us mother's tossing and turning, and worrying about all things kids, but most of us tend to question our dreams or find excuses not to do the things we really want to do. We stop ourselves from starting over before we begin to let ourselves explore the possibilities. We didn't do this when we were 22-years-old and just starting out. Opportunities presented themselves and we took them. And the path was rarely straight. Think about your life after college. How did you get your first job? Were you absolutely certain that was what you wanted to do? Or did you just kind of jump in, knowing the world held possibilities and hope?

This is the piece that most of us are missing now. The one that says its OK to fail. It's OK to try something and not like it. It's OK to jump in not really knowing if it is exactly what you want to be doing with your time. And it is really OK to still have a world of possibility and hope deep with in your heart.

So many days I wake up and think about why I am writing this BLOG. I can think of hundreds of reasons why I shouldn't. But I am continuing to write. For me, it has become my leap of faith. I began this exercise not thinking it through at all. I have no hidden agenda of becoming a BLOG sensation. No fantasy of becoming the next Julie from Julia and Julia. I write every day now because I have this feeling that if I show up somedays the creative Gods will be with me and somedays they won't. I want to take advantage of those creative forces and make sure I am wide awake when they appear. The rest, I have no idea. But I am allowing myself moments of not indulging in the 'why bother' game. I am not good at leaps of faith but at this time I am keenly aware that if I don't leap, I won't fly.

And, I still do want to fly.

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