I have worn many hats in my lifetime. You probably have, too. I’ve been thinking a lot about those various roles and personas lately as I’ve been shifting everything in my life – from my living environment to my work environment to my social environment.
A little back story.
Last month, we moved from one city to another. Only 18 miles away, but still, a different city. In this move, we traded our 3BR / 3BA suburban lifestyle for a 1BR / 1BA high-rise kind of lifestyle, complete with off-the-hook amenities. After 26 years of suburban, family-focused living, this idea of urban, empty-nesting, luxury living is totally new to us.
Another thing you have to know to appreciate this story is that I found a bald spot on my head. About six months ago, I noticed a little round bald spot on the top of my head. The size of a small button.
And yes, that bald spot kind of freaked me out. Was this a sign of illness? Why was my hair falling out? Was I going bald?
But, after some thought and conversation with my hair dresser, we realized this bald spot was created by the running cap I had been wearing.
You see, I had been training for a 50K endurance race and, I had been so concerned with keeping my hat pulled down to protect my face from the sun that I didn’t realize I was rubbing a bald spot into my head!
Which brings me back to my original story.
One night, our youngest daughter (23 years old) was visiting us at our new place and we were hanging out in the jacuzzi where she made a comment to the effect ‘This is the NEW YOU, Mom!’ She was referring to my more carefree attitude, my willingness to not overthink things, my ‘live in the now’ mentality.
Hearing her comment, my first reaction was to deny it entirely. In fact, I tried to debate it with her. You see, I don’t feel like any of this is NEW me. It’s more like OLD me. Or a ‘me’ that has been on the back burner for the last few decades while I made family my focus. It’s like a part of me that has been ‘laying low’ that can now live freely with less consequence.
But, the whole conversation stayed with me. It made me realize, that for her, this IS a NEW me. She’s never known me as anyone other than that role of mom that I was already playing when she came along. The woman who was always on her toes. Always looking ahead and down the road. Forever cautious and careful. The one who always tried to stay one step ahead and on guard. To keep things in line.
The ‘mom hat’ is a hat I’ve been wearing so long that this young woman who has known me her entire life, has never seen me without it. It’s like a ‘whole new me’!
It also made me think about my running cap. A cap that while it was serving a purpose protecting my face, it was simultaneously leaving a bald spot on my head – one that may or may not ever be repaired.
Was my ‘mom hat’ the same way? Serving a role, but perhaps leaving a bald spot behind? Maybe worn a little too long or a little too tight? Could I have worn it differently? More loose? More balanced?
And, what would have happened if I had kept wearing it, rather than being willing to take it off for a while and let my hair down at this stage of life? How big would that bald spot get?
Much like that bald spot on my head, I feel like all of these changes are exposing a small patch of baldness in my life. A little worn patch that I hope to regrow. Although, I am also just fine if it doesn’t. Because every time I see it, it reminds me of what happens when we do the same thing day in and day out. When we cling too tightly. When we don’t explore different angles and allow ourselves a bigger variety of styles. When we forget to take our hat off and let our hair down.
Most importantly, I realized how lucky I am to have this stage of life and get to share it with my daughters so they can get to know these other parts of me.
The part of me that is spontaneous and carefree and playful. The part that lives more in the present moment and is slower to project out into the future. The part that slows down for sunsets and sunrises. The part that enjoys adventure and goofiness. The part that loves breaking the rules and questioning everything.
And, maybe, just maybe, we can all spend less time in hats and more time simply being our true selves in all of the roles we play.