My niece is turning the corner. She is graduating college, entering the work world, has a brand new husband, planning to leave home and set up her own house, all in one fell swoop.
She has been an isolated and internalized gal, engaging her horses and not her world. She didn’t even go to the university library until her senior year, even though her grades were fantastic.
But now she feels the call, the need, to spread her wings and fly. She’s scared, wanting to pull back, but knowing that the only choice is to be a butterfly and soar. It’s terrifying.
I believe in her. I don’t believe in her next two weeks or her next two months or even her next two years. That’s going to be hard, and she is going to stress out and make mistakes and learn hard lessons by being dropped on her head.
What I believe in is her next twenty years. I know she will learn from each problem, getting better and more confident. She’s smart, and late bloomers are often the best bloomers.
I gave her an image to hold onto, one of her in a fuzzy robe, holding a mug of tea, and listening to her kids fight in the next room. She has made them a home, given them what they need, and she is happy.
“Become the person your kids can be proud of as their parent,” I told her.
“Become the woman your kids can be proud of as their mother.”
That’s the challenge we each have, becoming the person that we can be proud of, the person who embodies the best we can be.
It is the message I wish someone gave me when I was her age, the notion that my success wouldn’t come from denying my nature, but rather from exploring and polishing it. The idea that I am good enough, that I have the right stuff, I just need to build it into a life.
Instead, though, I was pulled into the damn momentary drama around my mother’s failure cycle and my father’s disconnection. I was around people who wanted me involved in the shit, rather than people who were confident that I could rise above it and be better, with just work and rehersal.
I wish I had believed that I could build a home I could bring others into, rather than looking for others to complete me.
That time is gone for me, but she is just starting out, moving beyond girlhood to womanhood.
And I know she can be the woman her kids are proud to have as a mother.
I know it.