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School year brings new possibilities

It’s amazing the expectations we place on ourselves by listening to others.It starts when we’re about 15 and your aunt asks, “Sooo, when are you going to get a boyfriend?”If you happen to be steady with someone, it turns into, “When are you two gonna tie the knot?”Then, exactly one day after the honeymoon, everyone wants to know “When are you having kids?” And that doesn’t stop until menopause. When you actually have a kid, they want to know, “When are you having another?” Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have more than two they pretty much just want to know when you’re going to stop.I remember meeting a woman at the park one day with four little toddlers under the age of 5.”Are these all yours?” I marveled. I had three, but she seemed so superior to have managed four – not to mention she was at the park with them all at once and she still had hair left. She just smiled and said, yes, they were all hers.Later, I pointed her out to my friend and said, “Do you believe it – four?” She was balancing them on the end of the teeter-totter, relaxed, watching a dog play nearby. Her youngest actually dangled from the seat, held on by her deft hand around his shirt collar.”Oh, her? Those are just her four youngest,” my friend said. “She has 11.””Children?” I spat. “Eleven children?”Now that’s a powerful woman. You have to want 11 children. And if you want that many, then chances are you’re a pretty good mom. You pretty much know that’s your career path until, like, the year 2050. As for the rest of us, when our youngest child starts school, the question changes. Now people want to know what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives. As if what we’ve just accomplished wasn’t terrific enough to just bask in for a little while. “Your youngest is starting school? What will you do?” I guess most people assume that we’ll be sobbing on the couch as the school bus pulls away and still be sitting there, drooling, when it returns in the afternoon. That we won’t be able to function as a whole person, replete with stain-free clothing and a lunch break that doesn’t include goldfish crackers. Maybe if you already have 11 kids, you go for an even dozen just to give yourself a few more years and then you just start collecting Social Security. But most of us are ready for Part 2. Most of us moms (and dads, too, for that matter) took on the role of parenting to fulfill our need to be fruitful and multiply, and to help another human being find his path in life. Once he’s on his way, however, our own path forks again, providing new opportunities and amazing places to travel. Remember Dr. Seuss’s book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”? It wasn’t written for kids. It was written for the grown-ups who raise them!So give yourself a little time to reflect on the great job you’ve done so far (after all, your little darling lived to enter kindergarten), and then, knowing the teenage years are a ways off, explore your own possibilities!Charla Belinski’s column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at Belinskis@comcast.net


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