Expectations were high.
The time in my life focused on the all-consuming nature of motherhood was coming to a close, and as my last child walked out the front door with shower caddy and egg crate mattress pad in hand, I anticipated my glorious Second Act as soon as the last tear dried.
What’s it like being an empty nester questions were asked and met with chipper responses like, “It’s great!” and “I’m just so happy they are happy,” all the while not-so-patiently waiting for my own evolution.
To kick things in gear, I bought a pickleball set. Saturday mornings were now made for dominating court performances and post-win boozy brunches. Clearly, I would be good at this game I had never played because somehow, no more children at home equated to uncovering new skills.
I mentally planned weekday mornings consisting of dog walks followed by journaling in the quiet house leading to calm drives to my office because I would be so damn Zen from the meditation app I downloaded on my phone.
Conversations with friends and co-workers were spent sharing all the ways I was preparing myself to not allow my newfound freedom to lead to pouring all I have into my job and a lack of boundaries. This was my Second Act, and it would not be filled with burnout and 80-hour work weeks.
The dusty autobiographies on my bookshelf moved from display to casually placed by my chair, so I could easily grab them for late-night reading. I bought them because I knew there was so much I could learn, and new Christie with new plans would devour all that knowledge.
Now prepared, I continued to wait. And Wait.
You see, almost one year into my “Second Act,” some things have changed — like more weeknight date nights and fewer crumbs on the counter — but the mass personal transformation has not been my reality. I have, however, learned a great deal about myself.
I am largely uncoordinated and always will be, and when given the decision to drink coffee in my bed vs. playing outdoor games, I choose coffee in bed every time. Boozy brunch can still happen, but I will be less sweaty and well-rested while drinking my Bloody Marys thank you very much.
My dog was not blessed with an owner offering early morning walks, and no matter how much time I allow myself in the mornings, I will always leave the house in a whirl of dry shampoo and forgotten keys. Meditation? Hard pass.
I am not working 80-hour work weeks — not because of some recent self-awareness, but because of years balancing a successful career, motherhood, and life which has taught me when to push and when to pull.
Finally, but certainly not least, I do enjoy a good book that is thought-provoking and challenges my way of thinking, but if I’m being completely honest, I like beautiful fantasy worlds and rom-coms better, and since life can be a little crazy, I choose getting lost in fantasy over someone else’s reality.
I already knew all of this about myself but had decided it was all good enough for the motherhood years… but not nearly good enough for a seasoned woman on the other side. The reason my Second Act never came is because I didn’t need it. Motherhood wasn’t holding me back from being my best self. It was quietly shaping me and giving me the confidence to sit comfortably in my own skin. I just needed an unopened pickleball set and a bored and distracted five-minute meditation to remind me.