One of those this-is-an-era-of-terrible-that-will-mark-my-life rough times.This friend is slightly outside of my age group – a homeowner, a minivan driver, mom to a very, very challenging teenager. Said teenager was in the midst of making a huge mess of his life. There was addiction and lying and fleeing and a heaping helping of blame.All this despite very, very good parenting.
Her son’s shenanigans had been going on for years and of course (of course!) my friend and her husband felt terrible. I’m sure there were lots of late night conversations and a lot of “what could we have done differently?”
But when I talked to my friend about this, she told me something insanely, mind-blowing zen.
“You know, I don’t define myself exclusively through my relationships with other people. I’ve loved being a wife and a mother. And I take those roles very seriously. But there are other things in my life that are important to me and other things that I did before I became a wife and a mother. Someday I might be a widow and someday my parents will die. But I’ll still be here and it’s important that I have other things in my life that I love.”
(at this point I think I probably put my hand on her arm and asked her if I could be her when I grew up and how, in the name of all that is good and holy, did she become so wise?)
And she’s right, of course.
Our friendships and families and partnerships are incredibly important. And they should be. But they’re not everything. Your interests and hobbies should be part of the picture. Your political views. Your career. The things that excite and inspire you.
When we put all our proverbial eggs in one basket, we’re giving an awful lot of power to that one aspect of our lives. If I only define myself by my career, what happens when I get laid off? If’ I describe myself as a ‘mom’ first and foremost, what will I say when my kids are 25 and living in other cities?
We’re all clever, interesting, complex humans. Let’s define ourselves as such.
image via ARROW