Are You Living the Life You Planned? Yeah, I Didn't Think So!
Let me start out by saying this is not a whine-fest, although I probably should be having a wine-fest while writing this post. Rather, this is me taking inventory of my life and sharing it with my readers because, as I always say, there’s no way I can be the only one going through this stuff.
Do you remember the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime?
The whole song is kind of my theme song but there’s three lines in particular, “You may ask yourself, where does that highway go to? And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here? And you may say to yourself, my God, what have I done?” Trust me, it should be the Middle-Aged Mom Anthem.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine my life would look like it does today. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was arrogant enough to believe I could plan it all out – find a guy to marry that was willing to move back to the east coast, live in a gorgeous house and have two kids and effortlessly juggle the role of mom while continuing to climb the corporate ladder.
Yeah, I really did believe that. I’m even laughing reading it.
Seriously, I had it all planned out. A beautiful dream, right? Okay, here’s the reality. I found the guy in LA willing to move back to the east coast and we’ve now been divorced for a year and a half after being separated for three years. I firmly believe that most of us need “starter husbands” to work out our stupid mistakes.
I had a gorgeous home but because of the starter husband’s aversion to working and his inability to understand that you need to make money before you can spend it, I ended up short selling the home and being left holding mounds of debt in order to get out of the marriage. Rather than the two kids, I had four – the first died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1997, the second has intellectual disabilities.
Those are the bad parts – let’s get to the good parts that also have some “hiccups.” Life is series of two steps forward and one step back. When I moved back to the east coast, I was working as a senior executive at a major PR firm in New York City. After the death of my son to SIDS, I started to re-assess my mission in life and what I really wanted to do.
Once it was clear that my second son had some sort of disability, I realized that I needed to use my talents – communication – to become an advocate for kids while at the same time re-work my life to allow me the flexibility to be available when he needed me. This reassessment led me to my true passion as a child safety advocate, The Safety Mom, and to the baby proofing company I formed in the New York and Connecticut area, Safety Mom Solutions.
As an only child, having my kids grow up around my parents was a top priority. I must really love my family if I willingly left warm sunny California for the cold, bleak winters of the Northeast. I love seeing the relationship my mom has with my kids and, once again, my decision turned out to be fortuitous, as my dad has developed Alzheimer’s.
At least I can provide some respite for my mom when she needs it. This also prompted me to look at my business and realize that home safety isn’t just about toddlers. I needed to expand to include senior safety and home modification. We now offer safety services for both of these populations as well as physically disabled and autistic children.
I was one of the fortunate single moms who met and incredible man and last year got re-married. He’s kind and loving and our kids blended together immediately. So now, I’m the step-mom to another four kids. On any given weekend or weeknight, we have five kids under the age of 13 running around. It’s chaotic but happy.
But then the next curve ball came my way. Four weeks after we were married, my husband was diagnosed with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. So now I am a caregiver on every level – as a mother, daughter and wife.
My work as a spokesperson, author, blogger and speaker allows me to speak directly to parents about the challenges we all face. I love what I do and am incredibly passionate about it. And as much as I would give anything to have my little baby back on earth, I’m so grateful that he helped push me along the path I had never planned out.
I wanted to meet an incredible man who loved me and made me happy. No, I didn’t plan on him having MS but it doesn’t change our love, just some of our activities. I planned on being a mom but even to this day when I hear one of them calling me mom, I’m taken aback sometimes wondering how I evolved from this carefree twenty-something living in Southern California to being someone’s MOM.
Bottom line – we might start out arrogant enough to believe we can direct our life but then we grow up and realize that’s nonsense. Life happens to us and we choose what we’re going to do with it. I’ve found all my little coping mechanisms, my religion, inspirational readings, yoga and Lexi-Pro. Fortunately, I’ve made lemonade out of lemons, I rolled with the punches and I created a life that I really love, despite the challenges.
That, to me, is the true sign of a successful life.