For the past few weeks, Facebook has been a steady stream of back to school pics. Children marching into the future without even a glance back. And every year, we parents wonder, “HOW CAN OUR KIDS BE THIS OLD?”
You’d think we’d eventually get used to it but we somehow we don’t.
Kids are forever changing and maybe it’s time for the parents to change too.
For awhile, I’ve been a bit stuck. I was living in a town that didn’t fit me, I desperately missed my friends and the energy of New York, I had grown weary of the daily responsibilities of parenthood (laundry, dishes, clean up, repeat) and I felt isolated by my career (freelance writing).
My world needed to change or I was going to dye my hair, get a neck tattoo and hitchhike to Europe. Can you hitchhike to Europe? Well, I would find out.
I think midlife can come with a lot of stuck. As our children forge onto new frontiers, we watch from the sidelines. Which is wonderful. But people (even parents) need more than sidelines to thrive.
It’s not a clear path how you get unstuck in life. But I have found you take a bunch of steps (that usually involve fear) until you feel a little better. And that’s when you know you’re moving in the right direction.
In the midst of my stuck, a friend said to me, why don’t you go back to TV reporting? I was a TV reporter before I had kids. I had a million reasons why it wouldn’t work. But I decided to ignore them all. Because I truly did miss the energy and pace of a newsroom.
And I know how to be a TV reporter. I have no clue how to hitchhike to Europe.
I emailed my former boss to see if I could come back as a freelance reporter when I was up North for a month this summer. He said yes.
At this point, I had no idea how I would possibly work out childcare. I have five children. They would all be up North with me. But my plan was – say yes. And then figure out how to make it happen.
Through a combination of camp, before care, after care, babysitters and the help of amazing grandparents, I was able to do a bit of freelance TV reporting this summer. And yes, when I got home from the station, I had to make 5 lunches, fold laundry and get kids to bed. But it didn’t matter. I felt so normal again.
Donald Trump Rally, Fairfield, CT
The pursuit of happiness requires a certain boldness. If you stay on the same path, you will get the same results. Or you say, yes. It’s kind of like that “lean in” thing. Except you are leaning into your true self.
I got a call the other day from BBC radio. They wanted to interview me about baby name regret. I get interviewed on this topic from time to time because I’ve written about it for The Washington Post, Alpha Mom and some other outlets. What time was the BBC interview? Smack in the middle of my kids’ bingo night.
I said yes anyway.
I’d figure out the details later.
I sent my older kids into bingo night and brought my 3 year old to the car. That kid pulled out every single item of my wallet and purse while I blabbered in my American accent about baby name regret.
It all worked out. And the next day I did an interview for BBC Ulster in Northern Ireland. Same topic. And I still had that American accent. But thankfully, my 3 year old was at preschool.
Just forge ahead.
We all get overwhelmed by the enormity of a goal. But it’s the small steps that actually get you there. So you make a promise to yourself. Make one small step today or this week towards what you think might bring you more happiness, more fulfillment. Closer to your true self.
Our children are marching into the future. Let’s march with them.