Monday, October 19, 2015
It's fall, and the leaves are in full color, the skies gray, the air cool. The bright trees won't last much longer: even as I watch them turn, I know that soon enough they will drop their leaves and the branches will turn from bursts of flame to lace against the sky.
I couldn't stop it if I wanted to, so I try to embrace it. I live in the Pacific Northwest where almost everybody complains about the gray monotony of winter: we may not get any snow, and we will get lots of rain, and sometimes the gray sky feels like it is only three feet over our heads. People get grumbly about it and complain about it even in the summer ("oh, summer's great here, but November....!"), but not me. I like all of our seasons; I appreciate that though it won't snow in the city (not much anyway) I can go up to the mountains to ski, just an hour away; I don't mind running in the rain. I like hot apple cider, Halloween parties, turkey trots, and so much more about the season. I look forward to Christmas with tiny lights everywhere and Christmas ships and friends and sparkly dresses. Sure, it would be nice to break it up with a trip to Hawaii and blue skies....but overall, it's much more good than bad.
Life keeps changing, as much as the seasons, as much as the trees, and I'm trying not to fight that, either.
The job change - yes, I got the job! - is mind-blowing. I have faith that this is the job that I've craved since returning to work, and that I am on the path I want to be on. I am filled with awe, the kind I get when I see a particularly bright sunset, or a whale breaching, or stars over a mountain lake. I am filled with joy. It helps that I'm leaving my soon-to-be-old job on a high note: our big auction was this weekend, and I positively killed it. More money, more people, better messaging, and a much smoother event. I spoke to the room (300+ people) and did "the ask" and when I told them about our clients, the entire room cried. Afterwards, more people than I can count came up to me to tell me how powerful my stories were, and how grateful they were to hear them. (One slightly inebriated guest told me, "Your charisma makes me faint!" which was good for a chuckle.) I most certainly earned my keep. I felt rock solid, strong, capable, successful.
That's a change. Two years ago as I was fighting unemployment I felt insecure, frightened, uncertain. Hope that it would get better kept me going, but I was so scared.
I'm not scared anymore.
My daughter is going through changes faster than I can count them, too. Soon she will be a teenager, and her body changes daily before my eyes; she could easily be mistaken for an older girl, given the "right" clothes and some added makeup. She's tall and slim but muscular, with glossy hair, clear skin, long legs, and a gorgeous figure. At twelve! She does her homework without prompting, has good friends (with minimal drama), does her chores, is trustworthy. She's a fierce competitor in sports, giving it all of her heart. She's kind. She does volunteer work. Right now, her dream job is to fight for women's empowerment; she's thinking that maybe she'll become a lawyer to fight for women's rights (especially the gender pay gap). She sings to Taylor Swift nonstop. She prefers jeans and Converse. She bakes. She's my backpacking buddy, my lake swimming daredevil.
And this month, she became somebody's girlfriend.
I do not feel okay about twelve year olds dating. I don't feel okay about it AT ALL, actually, and my mind leaped from "she's such a great kid" to "this is the beginning of the end" in the space of about two seconds. I think in the space it took her to say "I have a boyfriend" I went from "all is well" to "she will be a pregnant teenage dropout" without blinking.
Fortunately, I kept my panic hidden and said something like, "Uhhhh, oh, ummm" or equally intelligent.
That night I Googled "tween dating" and "when should I let my daughter date" and such. I learned that my daughter is at the average age for this kind of thing; I learned that at this age, "dating" means that they text each other a lot but have no plans to go out and actually DO anything together. (Phew.) I read articles on how to discuss dating with your child.....and how NOT to discuss dating with your child. I read articles about how to put boundaries in place without becoming such a strict disciplinarian that your child will rebel from being too constricted. I read articles about how to coach her through this, and started saying "self respect" and "kindness" a lot.
At about the exact minute that I caught my breath, after weeks of monitoring text messages, I got the news that he dumped her. I felt an unnatural desire to throttle a child, to call him up and give him a piece of his mind. I felt certain that he had just made the biggest mistake of his life.
And then I caught my breath, realized that this was what was going to happen all along (she might have dumped him, or he might have dumped her, but the dumping was in the air from the first shy glance) and that I shouldn't expect a 12 year old to handle things gracefully, and that he was learning too, and that the two of them could handle it just fine. My daughter texted with her BFFs who were suitably enraged and full of girl-power. She played "We are never, ever, ever getting back together" loudly. She did her homework. We watched a movie together (one with no romance).
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Everybody knows that the only constant is change. We hear it all the time, and we live it all the time. That's why it's funny to me that when changes happen, they surprise me, catch me off guard and make me think "what on earth is happening!" and my mind spins off in crazy ways. (Uh, as far as I can tell there was never even a first kiss, and I don't think that pregnancy is going to result from five-character text messages.)
I'm trying to go with the flow. To accept the incredible goodness that is going on in my life, and to embrace the changes yet to come.
My new job is extraordinary. It is an answer to the prayers I've been sending into the Universe; it is filled with hope and possibility. I'm trying to live fully in this moment, to celebrate it deep in my heart as well as celebrating it with cake and champagne with friends. It, too, will change. It *will* be good, but there will also be challenges, struggles.
My daughter is extraordinary, and full of hope and possibility. She, too, will keep changing.
I never, ever, ever would have guessed that this is how my life would look when I was 46 years old. The single mom thing, the cancer thing, the career crazy thing....none of it has gone as predicted. My finances most certainly haven't gone as predicted. Some things are better than imagined - my own happiness, for one! - and some things I could really have done without.
And it all keeps changing, all the time.
I'm trying to live with that uncertainty, while holding optimism, and rooting myself in the present. It's tricky territory, acknowledging that I'm not in full control, yet working hard to make my dreams come true. I haven't got it figured out.
But today, now, in this moment, is really, really good. And I am really, really grateful. The recent changes are incredible, and I'm ready to embrace them.
What a moment in time I am in; what a gift it is.