One Wild Leap
I swear that the Facebook TimeHop feature is the source of both laughter and grief on a daily basis. And many times it's both...at the same time.
My babies insist on getting older by the minute and sometimes seeing their little faces from even a year ago (let alone several years ago) steals my breath away. It's the cruel irony of motherhood that we are raising our kids to be independent and leave us behind. We want this for them, but at the same time, we want to press them close to our bodies and never let go.
Today, I saw a post I had written in 2011 about how I hated the kids' homework as much as they did and that's why I would never homeschool. Little did I know, that a few months later we'd be pulling our two girls out of school and...homeschooling them.
We think we have you all figured out and then you come along and smash our ideals, show us another perspective, bump into our pride, and basically upend what we thought was normal.
This girl. This jumping young woman who was about to turn 40 and had a plan to kick 40's butt and leap into a new decade...this becoming-free, desperate for change female daughter took at leap on a mountain top at the pinnacle of Rocky Mountain National Park with fellow kindred spirits. This dear, more innocent woman didn't have a clue about what she was about to leap into.
All I knew back then is that I was ready for things to be different. Turning 40 was a wake up for me to start living a life I wanted to having a starring role in. I think every mother loses herself during those all-consuming early years of her children's lives. There is so much to do every moment of every hour of every day. It's very hard not to let pieces of yourself go because you just don't have the space to hold them. I know this is part of motherhood. The sacrificial letting go.
But I also know we can let too much of ourselves go. If we are not careful, we can lose more than our preferences, free time, fashion sense, hobbies and nights out with the girls. We can start lose our very essence, pieces of our soul that are not easily recovered.
So I think there is a natural time when mothers realize there is a reclaiming that needs to happen in order for them to remain intact.
This was my time for that.
Turning 40 was a great experience and I crossed many things off my to-do checklist and I know that year reoriented my trajectory in the very best way possible.
Reexamining my life, my priorities and even my deepest hopes and dreams led me to new places. It certainly let us to our farm life in the country.
It also led to the beginning of my deconstruction and reconstruction of faith and church.
I'm not sorry I took that leap into the New.
But I didn't understand five years ago the toll the leap over would take on my life and on my relationships. I didn't realize then that the changes I would experience would not only confuse friends and family, it would create distance and in some cases, brokenness.
Looking out now at some of the wreckage and detritus, I think about what I would tell that almost-40-year-old jumper. Would I sit her down and show her a fast-forward montage of how it would all go down? How her emerging freedom would show the binding marks in other areas of her life, in the lives of others that she loved dearly? Would I caution her to count the cost and think very carefully about what she was about to do?
I think I would climb up there and jump with her. I would laugh and remind her of all those who have poured into her life and shown her the way of freedom. I would remind her that vacant places allow for new faces and hearts. I would remind her that she has walked through so many tears and heartache in her life and that it has made her strong for the journey ahead. I would prophesy that although many things fade away, faith, hope and love always endure.
I would hold her close but I would not talk her out of taking that leap.
Growth has a hidden cost. I can't think of any metamorphosis experience that doesn't leave something behind in the becoming.
But staying in that snug cocoon is not an option. What once was cozy and comforting can become a tomb if we stay in it.
I have shed many tears over what I have lost, but I have raised more hands in triumph and wonder over what I have gained.
Looking at this photo of the five-years-ago-me, I see something I haven't before. My fist. Although I am leaping and defying gravity and bondage and my own cocoon, I am also resolved. My upraised hand is clenched into a fist of defiance and determination. (Sidenote: I'm flashing the "smash the patriarchy" sign before I knew what it was.) I see that girl and I she is me today. I still choose to leap. I still choose the inconvenient and difficult over the comfortable....yes, even despite the heavy cost.
Our personal freedom is too precious to squander. It's too costly to waste.
My hope is that all who are yearning to take their own leap muster up their courage and soar. Yes, your feet will eventually come back down to earth, but oh, the gravity you will defy and the bonds you will break as you do it.