I heard Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and author of, Lean In, speak at BlogHer ’13 last month, and I must admit to being surprised at how much I identified with her message. The question the Lean In campaign asks each of us is, “What could you do if you weren’t afraid?” I’ve lived my life afraid for as long as I can remember, and I’d venture to say my husband has, too. He’s run and relocated to the next corporate job because he was afraid of losing the last one. I’ve written my whole life, but fear of failure as well as fear of success prevented me from sharing anything I’d written until I began blogging just over two years ago.
“They” say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results. I guess my husband and I have been a little insane for going on the last twenty-one years. When the inevitable challenge has presented us with the same obvious choices, we’ve gone with our usual response, until now. This would be easier to grin and bear if we weren’t both at the same time attempting to make a midlife change to our knee-jerk response to life’s struggles, all while providing for a young child still at home.
Every fiber of my old self wants to run out and wait tables, tend bar, go back to being a miserable administrative assistant, or to throw together a hasty garage sale, even though everything I’ve done over the last two years has told me to keep writing, that I’m on the right path, that this me I’ve finally come back to is the me I was meant to be all along. So instead, I’m composing this post from my new writers studio in a hip, lofty old factory turned (thankfully ridiculously cheap) artists’ Mecca, where I’ll focus on finishing my novel, and take the earnest leap to query and submit my writing for paid publication.
Our 500 thread-count sheets no longer possess the elastic wherewithal to remain tucked, and almost neither do I. I try to be comforted knowing we still have friends with a big basement and even bigger hearts, and that we’re in this together. We’ve been back home in Michigan where we belong for a year now, and where we have much easier access to our aging parents and married daughters. This has been one of the longest summers in our history, but the ability to conduct our midlife crises nearer the support of friends and family has to be the only thing that truly counts right now.
We will get through this, and come out the other side, hopefully having been rewarded and having taught our children to make choices that lead them to fulfilling lives much earlier than we did, even if today I wonder whether Ramen™ is available yet gluten free.
Maybe our son will always remember 5th grade as the year he had no new school clothes and carried a recycled backpack (hey, it’s a Jansport™, those things are guaranteed for life, right?), but hopefully he will also remember it as the year his parents eventually got it right. This is the year we embraced the thrill ride of finding out who each of us is, instead of caving-in to what the Joneses would have done, even if neither of us has any fingernails left. I’m calling it,
Midlife with a Sidecar, where we’re all three taking the turns and holding on for dear life.