Donald Trump had it wrong: it’s not about location. It’s all about timing.
Opportunities are laid before us every day. Many we ignore because our eyes are focused elsewhere. Others are impossible at that particular moment because of where we live, our families, our other choices. From the first decision we make as a child, each new road cuts off all the others. We move forward.
This meditation is sparked by a recent weekend in Pittsburgh. I found myself drawn to an alternate lifestyle, mysterious, rich and attractive: what I call the “Sex and the City” world. I don’t mean the bed-hopping, money-dropping glamour of the women on that TV program, but the luxury of being able to meet girlfriends at 5:30 for drinks, or a visit with your laptop to the coffee shop at 10 p.m. to compose something marvelous over a latte macchiato. Or being able to sleep undisturbed on a Sunday afternoon just because you have nothing pressing and you want to. Or dressing in a chic suit with matching accessories every day, looking fabulous from a routine at the upscale gym.
In our rural town, there isn’t much to do of an evening, so it isn’t a great sacrifice to stay home, tending to the family. But the city lights reveal a whole different level of civilization–and freedom–that other women enjoy. It pained my heart. For a minute.
I suppose I could have that life, if I wanted to, leave the family and move to the city. Other women do that, when they’ve had enough. That’s not me, though. The time’s not right. I’ve taken on responsibilities for these children and this man that I intend to fulfill.
At nearly every moment in my life when the time would have been right to choose that exciting alternate lifestyle–and there have been many–I chose motherhood. With three birth-children, three adopted children, four step-children, even a couple of exchange students over the years, I’ve gotten good at it, the earlier ones unwitting preparation for the challenges of these last with special issues. I still have the occasional compulsion to take in more, working as I do now on the outskirts of the foster care system. But I think I’ve finally kicked that urge. I hope.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Creating a warm, caring, supportive, encouraging environment is probably the most important thing you can do for your family.”
So the pretty city lights, the twilight tapas and wine, and the silk scarves go to other women in other lives. My life is spent with a husband and children who delight and confound me, who fill my days with unexpected complications and occasional joy. Perhaps that alternate existence awaits me next lifetime. I’d prefer to think I’ve succeeded brilliantly there already, my reward the fullness of THIS mother’s life.