I was watching an interview with J.K Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, the other day. Now that she has announced that the series is over and that she will not be writing any other Harry Potter books, she said that she is being asked, “What will you do next? How will you top this?” Harry Potter became such a media and commercial success that he, and the woman who created him, became something of a phenomenon. Ms. Rowling intends not to let Harry Potter define who she is. She says that she will put no pressure on herself to match or succeed her past success. That chasing a phenomenon is neither healthy, nor necessary.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what the next step in my life will be. Raising Lauren was an all consuming adventure that took on a life of its own, while chewing up the plans I had for my own life and routinely spitting them out unrealized. Now that Lauren will be moving into her own home, there will soon be a greater degree of freedom....and uncertainty... around the direction of the remaining years in my life. For many years I’ve been afraid or unable to think about my own dreams and hopes, but have supplanted them with the all encompassing needs of Lauren. Not that I won’t still be very involved with her life, and won’t still consider myself to be her caregiver, but the very fact that we will not be sleeping under that same roof, having breakfast together every morning, and one ear will not always be trained to any sound of distress, is a significant departure from the norm of my life in the last twenty-five years.
Raising Lauren has been something of a phenomenon in my life. I did not have an inkling when I began what I was getting into, what a huge impact her life would have on my own, nor did I know how I would change, grow, and learn so much from the experience. I have written often about how the future was a scary place for me because I did not know where or how Lauren would live as an adult. With the plans we have now been able to put into play, I do not have that continual sense of dread always lurking in the back of my mind. This feels right. So, never one to miss an opportunity, I began to fear my own future without the need to provide Lauren’s daily care. I’m slowly realizing that I don’t have to be anything. I don’t have to accomplish anything more. What I have done is enough to define my life, to have had success, to have left a positive, worthwhile mark in this world. I am trying to be open to whatever the next phase of my life will hold, and I know that I will be more open than I ever could have been, without the experience of raising Lauren.