Friday, March 1, 2013

Conversations about New Beginnings

It was about twenty six years ago that I signed on for a particular job that has defined my life in ways I never expected.

young parents who had no idea
what was about to happen to their lives
Job Description: The care and support of three children. Sometimes known as raising a family. No prior experience necessary. On the job training provided whether you like it or not. Hours: 24/7.  Possibility for advancement – only if you count potty training and ability to drive a car at 16 as liberating moments.

Luckily, I didn’t have to do this alone but I have been the primary caregiver for three precocious children who are now becoming three amazing adults. With my youngest now sifting through college brochures and getting ready to turn eighteen this fall an odd thought occurred to me: In about eighteen months, I’m going to be retiring from this raising a family gig – whether I like it or not. Active parenting will be shifting into a very different role where it is no longer my job to protect, guide and provide 24/7 support and triage.

I could say quite a lot about women and roles and what I’ve learned along the way about the choices that I made – but that’s in the past now. I look at these kids of mine and think they are pretty damn cool. I think they’ve done most of that for themselves – with a little help from the parenting pit crew. The courage and strength I see in them humbles me and I ask myself – is that courage living within me as well?
Andy and I had a chance to talk this past weekend as we wandered around Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. I told him how I love the San Juan Islands and felt more at home in Friday Harbor than I did in our current community. And then I even went a step further and told him that I may want to live up there on a more permanent basis – after our youngest is off to college.

He asked me why – in a very thoughtful and receptive way which gave me the space to answer in kind. I was able to share with him my love of the ocean and land that makes up the ecology of the islands. I grew up on the beach and the ocean makes me happy. I told him how I liked the fact that there isn’t a Costco, Wal-Mart or Home Depot around the block nor is there a Starbucks, McDonald’s or Applebees on the corner. Even the market is independently owned. In the winter the town is quiet; many shops are closed from January through March. In the summer, the farmer’s market brings in produce from all the local islands. It is fun watching the farmers pull up to the docks and unload bucket after bucket of freshly cut flowers. I feel the simplicity of contentment.
It was a good conversation.

I’m noticing how I am questioning all sorts of values and ways that I live my life. At some point, it won’t matter what school district we live in or if we have enough space for three kids, a dog and, on average, two cats. After all these years of being anchored to live in a particular area, I’ve got to be honest, I’m looking forward to considering what is important to me as Andy and I adjust to living as a couple.
Maybe it’s a pipe dream – I don’t know yet. What I do know is that these conversations that we are having as a couple are very important. We need to speak about what our expectations are – the stories in our head about what life without kids running around underfoot means. We are having conversations about our values and beliefs, sharing what dreams are calling us into the future and what fears we have as well.  This is just the beginning of a dialogue that will be years in the making.

I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.- Douglas Adams


  1. You go Jen! I love your courage to state what you want, to envision a different future for yourself. I can see you in Friday Harbor. You do belong to the ocean. I enjoy reading about you and think of you often! Love, Michael

  2. Love your blog!

    My name is Chloe Jeffreys and I am the publisher of an online magazine dedicated to midlife women called Generation Fabulous: The Voices of Midlife. I think you are a voice who needs to be heard. If you are interested in joining our group of other midlife women you can email me at If you want to check and see if I'm just some spammer nutjob first, you can check me out on my facebook page at I hope to hear from you.