Another week gone, but not forgotten

Almost a week since my last posting, but it feels like a month.

I have just returned from a weekend at my college reunion. And I'm in love.

I'm in love with a boy named Atsu. He's about 3 1/2 feet tall and 100% darling. I can't understand much of what he said (except I learned how to say "Mee-tay" which means look - I taught him how to say "yummy" and "yucky") and I got to relive that special time when boys are four and you can show them small things that make a huge impact and then are just as quickly forgotten. Smiles are quick and when things go wrong, there are tears. Kind of like me.

My college friends are bright and wonderful and successful women. Five years ago I returned from reunion disheartened. I felt I didn't match up to their seemingly-starlit careers and they were taking the world by storm, while I, in stark contrast, was planning Girl Scout meetings. Had I heard of the Board of Ed and the world of Bridgewater educational politics? Who knows. I came home with a sense that my career was in permanent limbo and my self-esteem plummeted.

This weekend I return proud of my (meager) accomplishments. While only about half of my friends have kids, all of them have been in a period of reevaluation in one way or another. Yes, despite of potential insecurities of "what's next?" they all seemed confident and in general contentment with their lives. In our early forties we are all sure of who we are as people and weren't at a reunion to try to prove anything to anyone. In retrospect, I think that five years ago we were still coming to prove something to someone.We returned just for the enjoyment of (re-)acquainting ourselves with who we are today. I return to New Jersey feeling refreshed. You don't have to be top in a professional field to have made it.

Five years ago, the main attention-getter was a film maker who was putting together a documentary. This year the stars were family-focused: a home-schooling Mom who carried her 12-week old (her SIXTH kid!) instead of a attache' case. And my Dad - who at 87 danced to "Wild Thing" - and told his stories to a new audience of listeners. My friend, a professor of Spanish, would like to try something new, but with four kids, she admits that she has a great job for balancing kids and worklife. Another woman finds herself in the same job as five years ago but itching for a switch. One of my "most successful friends" lives in a Miami school district where funding cuts eliminated K-2 specials so parents fill the gaps. She now teachers her kindergartner son's art class. Meaningful, yes, paid, no.

Kids or not, jobs or not, I felt more at home with these friends than ever before.

C and her friend were discussing how people can change. She and her friends' tastes are so different than just a few years ago. She wanted to know if adults can change just as quickly. I don't know if I change that much in a year, but the timing for her question couldn't be more pertinent.

I've changed a lot in the past five years. Although I was always an active volunteer and engaged in my children's lives, I wasn't entrenched in local politics five years ago. I could not have imagined running a half marathon. I felt frustrated by my career life (some days I still do). But I have grown so much in the past few years. I expect more. I want more. I try harder - at least at some things. I see that my life IS built around my general values, and that I am proud of that. I enjoy taking care of my loved ones. It's the whole package that counts. AP has a wonderful life with her husband. DA has a job that meets her need for flexibility, as well as her desire to work for a cause she believes in. RN is a strong and inspiring speaker who challenges us to be our best. AK puts the mirror in front of your face and reminds you to take off the lenses that cloud self-image and see what's there. KT's doing something right - her four year old, Atsu's manners are the best I've ever seen. KT used her lifetime of travel experience to show her young son what the world offers. And so many more examples. I'm proud of my "sisters".

And possibly for the first time I return from reunion, just as proud of myself.


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