A PW Looks at 40

” Sometimes I meet women who are so passionate, they are about to jump out of their skin. The kids are getting older and the house is quiet and they want to do something. They want to get their hands really dirty and dive neck deep into something that keeps them up at night. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to move forward so they’re vibrating with pent-up passion turning rapidly to frustration…When I talk to them I tell them the story of my Mom…I tell them what my mom tells me–that you just have to take one step and when you do the next one will appear. I tell them the path doesn’t have to be a straight line, and that often it only makes sense when you look back at it.” ~Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine

I’ve been restless lately.
It isn’t a restless born of unhappiness.
It’s merely an inner pacing, a counting of days and hours. A wondering.
I’m finding myself in new territory. I’m a mom of older kids, independent kids.
I have time I haven’t had in decades – even before kids when working full time and finding my way in a new marriage and just learning how to be a “real grown up” filled up the hours.
But I know myself better, now. I’ve tried things and been tried by life. I’ve stopped living quite so black and white and filled the margins with the grey shades of grace. I’ve made choices and am happy with them, mostly (really, who is happy with all the choices they have ever made?).

I have this full life: amazing Hunky, fun, intelligent, occasionally completely exasperating and noisy teenage girls. Girls who have been my whole life for fifteen years and now range wider and farther without me every day…like rubber bands fixed elastically to a thumbtack. This is good; it’s right. It’s growing up, and I’m having a marvelous time.

But gnawing around the edges is the question of what now? What next? Where will I go from here?
This planning girl is living with no real plan, and that’s …well…scary.

And sometimes it’s a little bit lonely.
I’m rather unique in my little corner of the world. My children are older, sometimes much older, than most of my circle of friends. I’m less settled and more inclined to do something crazy like hop on a Mercy Ship sailing the coast of Africa. I’m seeing life on the other side of the more intense and hands on side of parenting and there’s a lot of it left. Years. Decades. Literally half my life still to live – God willing – and yes, diving in neck deep is exactly what I am itching to do.

But which way?

And that’s where I am this summer. This summer that I have dubbed “The Summer of 1,000 Things” because sometimes when you don’t know where the next steps will take you, you put markers on all the paths, and try all the doors and open all the windows and see where the light shines brightest. When all you have is time and possibility it’s really ok to try all the things you think might lead somewhere. You tear down the walls and throw out the armor; turn up the music and put out the snacks and just see where next footstep leads you. Because there is time, and I believe it will all make sense when I look back at it.

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2 thoughts on “A PW Looks at 40

  1. “Literally half my life still to live – God willing” . . . perhaps 2/3 of your adult life! I remember looking ahead at his point in life and wondering. I heard advice that I needed to be preparing for the time when our nest would empty; I was supposed to have something in mind that I’d been postponing while I had children at this intense stage of life. But I’d been doing exactly what I always wanted to do, not postponing anything! It was really hard to look to the future and imagine what might come next. Some days now I still look to the future and wonder . . .

  2. One of my closest friends here is pregnant. Her daughter is 4. She is at the beginning of her life as a mom, and I am near the end (of this up to 18 part). It’s definitely a strange place to be, especially when my peers are mostly all in a different place in life. It’s exciting and odd and decidedly uncertain. My hours have still been full of parenting, only on this whole new playing field. I like it. It also scares me. All that to say, I get you…

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