By Dianne Smith
Like many, I have spent years raising children and helping them thrive. After working three jobs, seven days a week for years to help pay for college so my children wouldn’t be stuck with debt, I am finally ready in the last third to live for me. I wasn’t even really sure what that meant, after so many years with a different focus. I do know it means less work and more play, giving back to the community, making friends and exploring interests. I feel blessed to be able to change some of my focus and slow down a bit.
As a child, being a prima ballerina was a dream of mine, but not so much for my mom. She saw it as a waste of time, so I was required to help pay for lessons. Serving and cleaning up at rich people’s dinner parties was a thriving business for me, beginning in my preteen years. Raising children, I often thought of taking an adult dance class, but, as often happens, in that third of our life it was a passing thought. Maybe that would be an interest now in the last third. Something that is frivolous and just for pure enjoyment: Could I do that?
I see the last third of life as having made peace with our childhood and recognizing that our parents did the best they could with what they had, knowing also that we tried to do our best and hope our children see that and make peace with it also. I am sure my mom had her reasons for why dance was a waste of money, but, for me, making peace was choosing dance lessons and being OK with spending the money on it. I started with tap because, for some reason, I thought that was more acceptable to my mom, but it was also the only adult dance class in Sandpoint that fit my schedule. I have now added ballet and will soon add jazz, and I am OK with that. So is my mom. It is funny how your relationships change when you are able to make peace with your past.
In the last third of my life, I had my two adult children here for the holiday and it was probably the best family visit we have had. Maybe they have a sense of peace now and recognize that I, too, did the best I could with what I had. Fortunately for me my children were resilient in spite of my mistakes as most children are. I hope they know I loved them the way I knew my mom loved me. Maybe not in the way I thought she should, but in the best way she knew how.
I hope to focus on being at peace with who I am and where I am in life. I have met some wonderful people through amazing experiences who are adding to the last third of my journey. I look at people I admire and what they are doing right, and continue to learn. Isn’t that what life is about? Learning every day so that we can make the next day better?
Dianne Smith, LMFT, is a licensed counselor who works with both children and adults. She has offices in Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.