By Tina Ann Forkner
I love the quote from author Anna Quindlen that says, “The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.”
Now that my kids have all gone off to college, I am beginning to experience what it means to have more than one life in this story of me. So far, my story includes life before kids, with kids, and now I’m figuring out how to have a life after kids. On some days, I’m sad about this change in my story, but on others, I’m excited to have a new adventure.
The thing about interesting stories is that they sometimes change right when you are the most comfortable with how things are. I remember when Amy shared with me that her youngest child had gone off to college. I could barely imagine being in her shoes, even though I knew I soon would be. Now, here I am in those shoes, and I have to say, I’m ready to go do something. One of the things I want to do is get away from home now and then. I want to travel.
I want to experience another life, one that is different than the one I’ve been living.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not running off to find a new life. It’s more of a walk. Life with kids at home was never something I wanted to escape at all, so I’m not in a big hurry. My life with children and a blended family was its own adventure, and I admit that I’m one of those moms who didn’t want it to end. I am the kind of mom and stepmom who happily let all the kids dictate my schedule, and now that they’re out of the house, I kind of miss them.
Okay, let’s be honest. I really, really miss them, but I think that’s okay.
I think if I didn’t miss them a little bit, I wouldn’t be normal, but I’ve come to realize that it’s okay to embrace where I am and start figuring out what the next part of my story is going to be like. Certainly the kids will always be a part of it, but in a different way than they were before.
For instance, since the kids are in college, they aren’t available to hang out with my husband and me as much. This means that when we go on a trip, they simply cannot accompany us. They are much too busy with their new lives now. As difficult as it is, my husband and I have realized that we are just going to have to suffer through this time.
Recently, we spent a few weeks in NYC, Maine, and Massachusetts while the kids were all busy with their studies, new friends, and writing papers. We drowned our sorrows in good wine, great food, and the friendship of new acquaintances. When my husband had to work, I just wander around on my own, lost, but not really lost at all.
As I write this column, I’m about to sign off and go walking around Boston, writing a new chapter in my life with each step. I’m looking forward to having dinner with my husband this evening, but I have to admit, I’m already learning that sometimes, it’s good for a woman to just be alone.
What about you? What stage of the story is your life in right now? What do you dream of doing next?
Until next time…
Tina Ann Forkner writes women’s fiction. When she isn’t writing or traveling with her husband, she is a substitute teacher in Cheyenne, Wyoming where she has lived for twenty years. Tina is the mom/stepmom of three children, all in college, and the author of five novels, including The Real Thing and Waking Up Joy.
Love the quote from Anna Quindlen! Every woman should keep those words always close. They are a perfect companion to “Don’t let others define your life. They are a part of it, but not the whole.”
My academic career was interrupted my senior year in college and it was some years before it resumed (there was a life in that space not of my choosing) and, as an adult I grew into and loved my life as an adult student.
Years and degrees later I grew in to a new life. The student was now teacher. The thrill of teaching is every bit as exciting as the thrill of learning.
And… in those two lives, another life… that of wife. The life of wife/student and wife/teacher has been rewarding beyond measure and has taught me much about myself.
I am currently working on my memoir… the life I did not choose… and in the process I have found a clarity and purpose and have learned the true purpose of the lives I’ve lead and the life I now lead.
Veronica, thank you fo sharing your story. I love that quote! It sounds like you have lead an amazing life and that you have a really good perspective about it. Good luck on writing your memoir. It is by sharing our stories that we can all inspire each other.
This post brings back all the feelings I went through a few years ago. The college years are hard. We miss them like crazy, and we’re proud of them and excited to hear all about their new lives, new friends, and the new paths they’ll take—which will change numerous times. We feel we should love having all the free time to do our own thing, and some days we do, but other days we just want things back the way they were. It does get easier. And time alone, as I’m sure you know, is precious.
Enjoyed the post. Good luck with your next book!