I once knew a woman. In her thirties, she left a promising career to stay home with her children. She ferried her two young sons from playground to preschool, from lessons to the library. She cooked amazing, complicated meals on weeknights to the chagrin of her fellow mothers (who told her to stop raising the bar).
This woman had accomplished a lot in her career, but still doubted herself. She was anxious about the possibility of failure—at anything. She could not talk about finances without being slightly embarrassed—never asking for a raise at work because, well, how gauche.
She let her husband worry about the taxes, the financial planning, the household handyman duties. These were not in her wheelhouse.
She volunteered in the school library, taught art appreciation to her son’s class and baked for school fundraisers. Her minivan was filled with stray cheerios and lacrosse sticks. She did not really miss her corporate endeavors.
She went to bed tired most nights, but grateful for the time she had with her kids.
That woman is no longer. I know this because she was me.
That woman lived in my Before. Before my parents died. Before my divorce. Before I became who I am today.
“Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.”
Amen, sister. Amen.
My evolved self—the one who emerged as a survivor from a fairly horrific 18 months of divorce, death and financial strain—caught my former minivan-driving, Julia-Child-cooking, anxious self. And has been handling life for both of us ever since.
As a young girl, I used to love to play a certain game with my dad. When on vacation, I’d stand at the edge of the swimming pool and shout, “Catch me, Daddy!” Before I finished the sentence, I’d jump off the side into his arms. Despite my fear of the water, I willingly sprung into his loving embrace, knowing I’d be caught. I never doubted it. He never missed a catch.
When I married, I had the same expectation. I had visions of my husband and I catching each other throughout life, as needed. I never doubted it. Only, he did miss. He missed big time. And I fell with a splat.
The woman I became has caught me ever since.
She is a survivor. She rekindled her career, but works for herself. She knows what her talents are worth and does not hesitate to state what she needs to support her family. She knows what she knows and hires out for what she doesn’t. Taxes, handiwork, you name it. She orders out too much, wouldn’t drive a minivan to save her life and as for anxiety—well, it rears its head now and then but for the most part, it leaves her alone. When you’ve been through the war, a skirmish no longer scares you.
The woman who caught me can look someone in the eye in a way that tells them—without saying a word—that she has earned who she is. That others’ opinions are not even close to her compass. This woman knows she will be caught each and every time because she has become her own strong arms. Sometimes the most solid, dependable safety net has been inside us all along. Not all of us are required to find it. I was.
The woman I am now goes to bed tired each night, but grateful for the time she has with her kids. Kids who know that the one she has become will also catch them. Without fail. Every. Single. Time.
Amen, sister. Amen.