When October hits Michigan you can usually count on a sharp chill in the air, dragging out the sweatshirts, and maybe even some frost on the grass. But not this year. This year we’ve been blessed with nearly two straight weeks of sunshine, temperatures in the 70s and even 80s and extended time with our shorts and t-shirts. In the heat of the afternoon, if you ignore the changing leaves and close your eyes you can almost trick yourself into believing it’s still July, so that’s how we’ve been acting: going barefoot in the grass, soaking up the sun on the deck, and eating ice cream in the afternoon…. just because.
Late last week we decided to head to one of our favorite spots for people and duck watching: the Mill Pond in downtown Brighton. With the big kids back in school, we found we had the place virtually to ourselves (not counting the feathered population). We spent a glorious few hours there just watching the ducks go by, playing tag around the rocks and savoring sweet treats from a local shop. At one point, my 2-year-old became quite preoccupied with picking feathers out of the grass and throwing them into the pond.
“Here you go, Mama!” she said, holding a feather out for me. “This one for you!”
So I slipped it in, somewhere between the lollipop wrappers, my cell phone, a 4-year-old’s pet rock and a kleenex of questionable cleanliness, fully expecting to throw it away when we got home.
But somehow that feather made its way out of my pocket and when I got in my car the next day, I found it sitting on my seat, waiting for me. And as silly as it may sound, I think that feather was trying to tell me something.
You see, I’ve been walking around with my head in a bit of a fog lately, and not just the usual sleep-deprived-mom-of-three variety. It’s been a heavier, heartier fog, the kind that comes with a major life change.
Tomorrow I’ll be starting a new job, a new career even. It’s an unexpected opportunity that came along at the most unexpected time, the kind that makes you sit up from the couch where you were happily nursing your baby boy and say “Maybe I should turn my life upside down and figure out a way to make this work thing work!”
It’s been two and a half years since I left the full-time work world, not completely by choice. Like many moms, I faced a situation where the financial and emotional cost of having children just didn’t compute with anything I’d be bringing home. Since we’re blessed to be able to make ends meet on one salary, I decided I’d give the whole stay-at-home-mom thing a try.
It lasted all of about two weeks. That’s when I began accumulating part-time job after freelance gig, working nights, middle of the nights, weekends, and many places in between. I felt guilty when working, guilty when not working, guilty when thinking about how guilty I felt about working or not working. Guilty for secretly loving the times I left the house for work, guilty for not wanting to spend every waking moment with my kids, guilty for wanting more. Guilty for being more. Or not being more. Guilty for being me.
So when this opportunity came along I weighed all the options, considered the pros (including an arrangement to work two days/week from home) and cons (including dragging a breast pump around the rest of the time), and eventually decided to give it a try. But instead of alleviating the guilt, it seemed the decision has only intensified it. Now I feel guilty for pursuing my own passion, guilty for leaving my kids, guilty for the seismic change this decision, MY decision would bring about in our family routine.
And then there’s the fear: fear of failing at this new venture, fear my kids won’t love me anymore, fear my husband and I will become strangers, fear of forgetting that grown-ups close the door when they use the potty… er… bathroom in public, fear that maybe, just maybe, I’ll end up with exactly what I’ve wanted and then what will I complain about?
Between the guilt and the fear and the stress and the thoughts and the decisions and the blah, blah, blah… I’m over it! I’m over myself. I’m over the over-analysis and resulting paralysis. It’s time, in the words of my favorite running shoemaker, to Just Do It!
So as this new chapter begins, I will carry that feather with me to remind me of sweet, carefree days- the ones we’ve already had and the ones that lie ahead….
To remind me that our hearts and minds don’t need to be so heavy….
That time does fly, but if we don’t get so hung up on the clock it will take us on a pretty amazing ride…
And that we need to let go of the guilt and the fear and all the rest, because deep down, we’re all meant to fly.
Mona Shand is a former radio and TV news reporter who now works in public relations. You can read more on her blog.