Choosing a New Path
August 22, 2016
Like many women of my generation, I was raised to believe I could—and should—have it all. I could get a degree, have a career, marry, have children, manage a home, and live the dream. While I had more choices than the women of my mother’s generation, many of whom married right out of high school, I still believed a necessary part of the path was marriage and children. It wasn’t until many years later, after I had already embarked upon that path, that I learned it was not the natural order at all—it was instead a social construction—like just about everything else.
By the time I woke up, I was the mother of twins, struggling to hold together a marriage, nurture my children, and work two jobs in order to live in a neighborhood with good schools. I felt the need to keep up with the women in the hood—buying the clothes, killing myself at the gym, ‘fixing’ my face, redesigning the house, installing beautiful landscaping, smiling at every event with a glass of wine in my shaking hand, lying awake at night wondering how the hell I had ended up exhausted and miserable in Stepford.
After more than twenty years of perpetual motion, I noticed that my kids had grown up and somehow turned into remarkably kind, giving, and empathetic young adults ready to make their own mark on the world (and knowing, thanks to my repeated lectures, that there is not one narrowly defined path for them—they can create their own).
I struggled with their leaving, with the transition from active parent to sideline coach. And while I was happy to downsize in order to try to pay some of their tuition, I struggled giving up the other role that defined me—that of classroom teacher, transitioning instead to online work that was incredibly isolating. And finally, after being hit over the head with countless not-so-subtle messages from the universe, I had to admit that it was time to step off the socially constructed path I had followed for so many years of my life. It was time to discover myself and make my own way.
Hopefully it isn’t too late for that.
So here I am, moving 2000 miles from Stepford, coming home to the lake that has grounded me since I was a child. I am returning to help care for my elderly mother, to be near my sister for the first time since we were kids, and to create my own space and place and way of being in the world, minus all of those socially constructed ‘shoulds’ and ‘have tos’.
I hope you will follow along as I take these first tentative steps, which have included creating this blog where I hope to share my journey—of renovating an old boat house in the hope of turning it into a tiny home of my own, of exploring new ways of working that include generativity (sharing my gifts with others through meaningful work), caring for my mother and supporting her through her own incredible journey, and finding myself by taking risks and exploring new adventures, including my newfound love of photography, which helps me to pause and be present.
Thank you for stopping by lovinglifebythelake.com . I hope you will visit often.
Images courtesy of Pixabay.