Our Story Begins:
Life in the (not so) Fast Lane
I did something I hadn’t done since the beginning of this year.
I took a break.
I don’t mean I took some massive, long, in-depth vacation. I don’t have the time or the money to do something like that and my kids, like many of yours, are all in school.
But I took a break, both from writing . . . at least here . . . and from the stresses of things around me. Not the least of which was the expectations and the pressures of others around me who want nothing but the best, I am sure, but who all think they should ask a similar group of questions.
On the parenting front, particularly with two older girls, I get “what’s (child 1) going to do after college?”
Or for the senior in high school: “where is she going to go; what does she want to do?”
I don’t have full answers for either of those questions. My oldest has been very smart and done a wonderful job of interning, working, and even networking in advance of just her fall semester. She’s really smart and driven.
My middle child is reaching her groove.
Then there’s my own personal life.
I have been dating someone pretty amazing, at least I think so. But the questions pummel me from acquaintances and friends:
“How are things going?”
“Are you thinking about making a big step?”
“Have you thought about marriage?!”
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Nothing is more difficult to explain to people than the fact that you aren’t really ready for any of those questions to be answered. Not mine . . . not my kids’. Don’t get me wrong, the kids and I all have been stressing and worrying about what comes next in life. My daughters both worry about the uncertainty of what’s next. So do I.
But here’s the most important and interesting part: we all did this before, right?
You stressed on your way to college. You worried about getting through college. THEN you worried about whether you’d get a job IN college. In my conversations with my children I can hear the worry and the stress in their voices. I have talked with them about their worries but I haven’t pummeled them like all their friends, relatives, and acquaintances have.
So sometimes you just have to take a break.
I took a weekend at Tahoe . . . just me and a wonderful person . . . and it was amazing. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t think about college. I did have some long conversations about what comes in the distant future.
One thing losing my wife in 2011 taught me was that when things are dangerously stressful you have to take them a day at a time. Sometimes a minute at a time. So for kids still trying to find their way, what they want to do, where they want to work . . . you just lay out options. You ask questions, but you don’t repeatedly ask them. They’re already stressed and worried. Same for the single parent trying to find their way through a relationship.
Slow and steady aren’t bad things. I have friends who were in my boat and are dating and have been dating for years. Changing your life is a biiiiig thing. Don’t kid yourselves, college, new job, and relationship . . . they’re all biiig, scaaaary things. I have four kids FOUR kids. Imagine walking into a relationship with that.
My kids lost their mother a mere five years ago. I lost my wife that same day.
Now . . . imagine being asked, after that short a time, what you think is a throwaway question about life, college and a relationship and you realize . . . sometimes you just need to take it a bit slowly.