I turn 65 this week. It’s quite a shock to me that time has flown so quickly.
Wasn’t it just yesterday I was knee deep in diapers and toddlers?
Now they have flown and are unique adults with their own lives.
My life has been blessed and varied, filled with joy and suffering, dreams and dark nights.
Each choice had a cost.
When I first chose children over career, people asked me how I could waste my education! Was college and law school for naught?
My children, each arriving as a surprise and a delight, were my real education. The university filled my head. My children filled my heart, teaching me the true meaning of love and sacrifice, delight and frustration. I had the privilege, thanks to my ex-husband’s hard work, to be home full time to immerse myself into motherhood.
Yet, that came with a cost. My career did not advance quickly or predictably. Upon my return, I am not compensated like someone who never took a career break. Yet, it was a price I gladly paid to be fully present for my children.
Everything has a cost. We have to weigh whether we are willing to pay it.
My return to my career came with a cost. I had to get up to speed intellectually and procedurally, and get used to the physical demands of practicing law again. It was a cost I gladly paid, as I enjoy the daily hustle – the endorphin rush of victory and the soberness of defeat. I treat each person in front of me with dignity and respect, no matter what they have done. I pay a cost for that as well when others inquire, “How can you represent those people?”
I paid a huge cost to leave my long-term marriage. It wasn’t sudden or dramatic, rather it was a slow march of disintegration. It took huge courage to admit to myself that it was no longer working. The financial implication has been devastating. Relatives and children may never forgive me. I am left with asking them the question, “What’s wrong with Mom choosing happiness?” My prayer is that they will grow to accept my choice and be happy that I am happy.
And so, on my 65th birthday, I find myself with the body of a senior citizen going through the changes of an adolescent. What will life look like moving forward? Choices and decisions dance before me as I settle in to my new normal.
Before I made the decision to leave my marriage, I had a recurring dream that there were rooms in my house that I didn’t know about. In the dream, I would discover this new space with great delight and surprise.
I now see that those rooms were undiscovered blessings or benefits in my life.
The largest room is the GRACE room. I can give myself the gift of grace and I can extend that grace to others. I have made mistakes and committed errors. Those around me have as well. With the gift of grace, I am able to accept all the parts of myself and others in our very human imperfection.
Another great room is the room of RELINQUISHMENT. I have relinquished stances and positions that once defined me. Life doesn’t have to unfurl the way I once thought it should. Those I know don’t have to behave or interact in any prescribed way. I can relinquish my expectations and narrow views and leave myself open to surprise and delight.
Nearby is the room of ACCEPTANCE. I no longer pout or rail at the injustice of life or situations. I may never understand why things did or did not happen. I accept what was under my control and let go of what is not. Loosening my grip has brought the gift of peace.
Have you counted the cost of your life’s decisions? Are you at peace with them? What waits, perhaps in undiscovered rooms, to surprise and delight you?
Christine, your past is marked with bravery at every turn. Thank you for sharing your journey. I am inspired by your courage, strength and desire to make a difference in the world.