I've been thinking a lot lately about life, purpose, being, presence.
One of the things that prompted me to consider this is how long I have been in the place of "second."
In many ways, the place of second, or support, chose me.
I'm naturally observant, organized, and on. I unpacked pretty much this entire house, know where everything is (except down in the man cave) and can inventory everything without fail. It is something that I am good at. Support.
This morning, in the darkest before dawn in the cold rainy Connecticut morning, I started thinking about the next years of my life and if I wanted to be in a supportive role for all those years. Perhaps it is because my last child just turned seventeen. That almost there time, junior year, flexing her growing independence. They don't really need me anymore in the ways they did in 2003 when I walked away from a lucrative marketing career.
I walked through my living room to my dining room to the kitchen and just looked around. I decided to write in my kitchen instead of up in my office or down in the library.
I'm the same age as the VP-Elect.
We were at HBCUs at the exact same time and had life followed the path I intended before transferring, would have been pledging our respective sororities at the same time. For me, that came many years later than her. And that is also part of my muse.
The part of putting aside, waiting, planning ahead for that one day.
But then Covid came in March of 2020 and like anything else that is disruptive of what we know to be, demanding an altering, attention, a reconsidering.
My oldest son has been after me to "write the book, Mama." and I keep putting it off. I have notes here and there and for years, thought that I wasn't old enough to tell the story he was after me to tell. I put it second on my list of when I have time to do it or when everyone involved is deceased, whatever happens first.
Who knows why we put some things off that are part of our reason for being and who knows how much time we have left to do it?
I was second to my husband's career, especially after we had the daughters two years apart and one had major illness that required my time. How could I pursue higher management and be sure that she lived through having multiple surgeries? Giving up one thing means that she is alive and thriving, at age seventeen, she almost nearly lives a life in remission. So, there is success and that her older sister is a college freshmen and all my sons are adults, two in their thirties. I put myself second so they could be first so that they can be first in their own lives.
I was second in the organization where I work. By design, I came in that way, was in seminary, and didn't have the time or interest to run a non-profit. I was already deeply involved in my own work, so a less-than-part-time gig was all I needed. Second worked.
Second works until it is not enough.
There is a joy in serving and being of service, of course, that is not what I mean. But sometimes, in giving up of oneself for so long, you can miss a moment to center your own dream.
As a wife, mother, minister, activist, organizer, writer, mentor, even as a professor and manager, I've centered the needs of others in many facets of my life. It was part of being present in someone else's moment. There is a space and a time for that, to be the one to pick up the plow and get things done.
And then there is a time when. you pause.
Glance out at the rainy morning, and ponder.
How many more of these do I have to center something I want to do?
None of us really know the answer to that.
That is the mystery of life.
But we do know and are able to consider is how we make a decision to place ourselves as the main character in our life. To remember we are worthy enough to be a priority. What you want to do, what I want to do matters.
It matters enough to claim it and make it a reality, even if that is in getting up earlier to have an extra moment before other obligations, or if it snatching glimpses of time throughout the day. We are worth having a pause to think of your own dreams.
Because for one of us, second was never meant to be our resting place.