If anyone’s noticed, I haven’t written much lately. It’s not because I haven’t any ideas or the will, it’s simply that I’ve been too BUSY! What’s amazing is that, for me, winter is usually the time when I hunker down and take the time to write or to clean out closets and junk drawers, or to get fat assembling 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles while eating warm and gooey brownies straight from the oven. It’s the season when I indulge in the warmth and restorative powers of creamy soups, and a 5 pm cup of REAL hot chocolate, because seriously, what’s better than warm, silky, liquid chocolate to chase away the winter blues? But this winter, things are different and, although I’ve managed to keep up with some of these activities, unfortunately, the writing and the cleaning has sort of fallen by the wayside. So, what’s changed?
In my case, the better question might be, what hasn’t? Over the past few years, and especially in these past few months, so much has changed in my life. My relationships with my kids and my husband have undergone dramatic shifts. As a parent of adult children, my conversations and interactions with my kids have taken on new meanings and have new boundaries. As empty-nesters, my husband and I have lots of time together without the daily interruptions that our lives with teens or babies brought. It’s been amazing to start to remember what it was like when it was just the two of us back at the beginning of this whole thing we call marriage!
And, lastly, perhaps the biggest change is that we moved from the town where we lived and raised our kids for 25 years. Although my friends will always be my friends, we are not as involved as we once were in each other’s day to day lives. When our kids went to college, the activities of schools and sports and the neighborhood that once dictated our lives’ schedules ended. Some of us went back to work, some moved out; the smart ones, to warmer climates, and some, like me, just a few towns over. Suddenly, life was looking very different, and I knew I had to find some way to adapt.
Most of us avoid change. I know very few people who seek it out, who love to face the unexpected or the unknown. We are creatures of habit. We like what makes us comfortable and we find solace in what we know. We seek the smoothest path and we try to carry the lightest load. And yet, change is part of life. I have found that it’s been in the resistance and the unwillingness to accept its inevitability that I have struggled most. So what to do?
If this was your typical blog, or I was a better person, this would be the part where I tell you an inspirational story about finding my passion and rediscovering myself. Perhaps I’d be sharing how I have dedicated myself to others and, upon hearing of a desperate need, joined a group building homes in Uganda, or how I began reading to women in prison or that I finally poured out my heart and soul into the greatest novel since “Jane Eyre,” or at least, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Or maybe I took up the violin and mandarin Chinese. Or better yet, had adopted displaced orphans from Syria.
But, alas, I have done none of those things. Instead, I have discovered paddle tennis. And if anyone knows of a support group for paddle addicts, please let me know. I admit I need help. That’s the first step, right?
No, seriously. Me, the woman who hates the cold, who is a terrible, laughable athlete, who fears competition, the one who breaks bones doing anything physical, is a paddle junkie.
I’m addicted. Love, love, love it. I’m out there layered up in wool socks, long johns, hats, gloves and all the gear that goes with the sport. I bought the paddle, the paddle glove, the bag. There are whole stores dedicated to the stuff. I’ve spent hours online shopping. I’ve embraced competition. I want to win, to slaughter, to smash that ball at my opponent. I love to talk strategy and use terms like, lob, drive, let, volley, forehand, backhand and game, set, match. I have away matches at other clubs where they serve lunch after in a warming hut. I get sweaty, I allow hat head, I have laundry with work-out gear in it. Talk about change! It’s like a whole new me. And I love the new me. I have rosy cheeks and chapped lips. I’m an athlete, or at least sort of.
Plus, I’ve met great women! We laugh and have lunch after practice. Yes, I go to practice. Me. A team practice! And, oh yeah, I’m the captain. Hilarious, right? Hell, my teammates don’t know I hate the cold or never competed as a member of a team before. To them, I’m nice; one of them even described me as sweet! Even better? They don’t know my husband, or my kids! There’s no back story. It’s all fresh, and new and fun. It’s been a chance to learn something new, to try something I’d never done, to be active, to be outside and to reinvent myself in a small way. I’m not the mom with the kid who punched Billy in preschool. Or the one whose kid walked off the stage in the middle of the kindergarten ballet recital, only to displace their kid on the dance team a few years later. I’m not the one who is always late, or the one who Annie doesn’t like, or the one who is a terrible cook or who only volunteers to bring the juice or the paper products for the class party.
Change rocks. Guess who can play as a sub basically anytime because she has no kids at home who are always getting sick, or needing rides or getting detentions? It’s awesome. I’ve developed cat- like reflexes. My knees work again. My hand eye coordination might just be better than my 20 year-old video game aficionado son’s. I’ve got muscles I never knew I had. I’m on paddle fire. (Hey, change is a process. It’s not like I’ve evolved into a whole different person. Maybe humble will come next week.)
And the best part? Spring is coming. I can’t wait for tennis! Most of the same women play that too! We will have round-robins, and tournaments and all sorts of fun. I’ll play doubles or maybe singles, or whatever. It’ll be great. I’ll need to buy those little skirts, and a headband, and short, cute little socks with racquets embroidered on them and a bag that holds my new shiny racquet. And I think I’ll put my initials on it.
Oh my gosh, I can hardly wait. Watch out Serena.