Today. I am respectfully resigning my commission. Turning in the tiara. I have finally come the realization that I don’t have to try to be Wonder Woman anymore.
As is customary with strong southern women, firstborn children, and peasant stock, I was raised to think that I was The Fixer. My goal in life – my predestined profession – was to be Wonder Woman. And I guess I was pretty good at fixing things and making it work– from dead car batteries to broken spirits. Mine was the generation of self-improvement books. Entire sections of bookstores (remember those?) were devoted to empowering us to be all things to all people. Maybe I skimmed over the self part of self-help.
My generation was one of New Pioneers. We came of age on the cusp of the second generation of women with (almost) equal rights — we knew we could Have It All if we worked hard enough. We learned about getting a seat at the table and breaking glass ceilings. We cracked the pantyhose Legg and laughed at our mothers’ girdles. And believed that we all we needed to do was keep climbing – and climbing – and continue to prove our competency at all things for all people.
It didn’t stop in the workplace. My generation of mothers raised our children with stacks of books next to our chairs. We championed Benjamin Spock, and fought for legislation for car seats and bicycle helmets. My generation proudly created hyper-parenting and helicopter moms. And some of us couldn’t let go. I believed that parenting came with a lifelong contract.
It has occurred to me in recent months that my adult childen have morphed into these fairly competent hybrid adult friends. And they don’t really need me to hover and offer advice and tell them how they ought to do things. In fact, they will be better for it if I let them fly and make a few mistakes and learn from them — like our generation did. And I have permission to let go. We can land that helicopter now.
Community. It has always been important to me to be a community organizer, activist, volunteer and, when necessary, leader. But I started looking around tables as i sat on advisory boards or planning committees and I saw a room full of people my age or older – somewhere between 48 and death. Where are the 20s and the 30s… and even the early 40s. Who is giving them a chance to become community leaders?
And so today, after much consideration, I am resigning my commission as Wonder Woman. I am proud of the accomplishments of my generation – and I am grateful for the opportunities to serve my children and my community. The glass ceiling has cracked if not completely broken – and I am comfortable with my professional life.
And now it is our turn. The way I see it, my generation has a new challenge. Letting go without guilt. I am going to try to pioneer that movement – at least for me – starting today.
I am proud of our children and believe that they have and continue to learn to make good choices. I cannot deny them the privilege of learning life’s lessons for themselves. And deciding what they want to do to make a living and how they are going to work toward their own dreams. And I will be respectful of their decisions. Our children’s generation has a new battle to fight. Who is going to write the self-improvement books about that? Someone needs to write Overcoming Hyperparenting or Letting Go Without Guilt.
It’s been a good job but I believe my work is done. I am looking forward to a new chapter in life, one of relaxation, love, respect and friendship with those great human beings that we have raised and come to know. They have earned their independence.
My well-worn and slightly tarnished tiara is going up on a shelf. My track shoes are going in the trash, and I have landed the helicopter. It is their turn.
I am still dragging a little guilt around – but am learning that it is time to let go. It’s my turn to focus on happily ever after with the great love of my life and those dreams I have put off for so long. What are your dreams? What is your happily ever after?
It’s our turn. We can fly. But we have to give ourselves some quality time.
Listening to I Can’t Be Your Hero Today by Jimmy Buffett