In a few short weeks I will turn 44. Time stops for no one, myself included. I get philosophical as my birthday nears each year. As the next year of my life approaches, it naturally feels like the perfect time to reflect, reevaluate and refocus myself. I have learned a lot from the changes that have happened in the past few weeks. I have recently wrapped up two very long term projects and the hands of the clock have responded by slowing down to a crawl. For the past 18 years I have been involved with the very time consuming, yet rewarding task of getting my first born through his first 18 years on earth.
Two weeks ago, I took him to college. The first thing that I was shocked to learn was that I am THAT mom. The one who cries the whole way there and back and upon returning home can burst into tears without warning for days after. Songs, paper plates, the dog, you name it, tears happen. On the long ride home, it hit me. Not only was this the first stop on the life on his own train, but in a sense it is my last train ride with him as a child. The joy and excitement that I feel for him as he begins his life away from home is tempered by the fact that I really miss this kid. Fortunately, I have two other fine young men that are coming up right behind him that help to distract me from his absence. It seems like Thanksgiving, and his return home, is years, not months away.
Coincidentally, the publishing timeline for my book, Switching Teams, is also months away. I am proud, and equally terrified, to have sent the finalized files to the publisher and set in motion the next phase of my journey as an author. This has been a four year project which has challenged me in ways that I never imagined. Currently there is a two foot high pile of paper on my office floor that is the result of months of rewrites, edits, proofs and outlines. I know many trees gave their life so that my book could be born and for that I offer my gratitude.
Much like dropping off my son, this was the end of the line for the writing process. I thought about, worked on or dreamed about this book every day for four years. Once I hit the finalize button, that was it. No more changes could be made and the work was completed. The part of my brain that had been occupied by the book was now empty. I learned that there is a point in time where you have to hit the send button. Four hours and the 225th spell check later I finally had the gumption to send it. I may have also been immediately after my wife threatened to do it herself if I did not do it “NOW!”
Writing is hard. Writing about yourself even more so. However, nothing is more terrifying than realizing that other people are going to be reading what you wrote. The moment I sent the files, I felt my comfort zone implode. Poof. Gone. To go from sitting in the cozy confines of my home while writing about my coming out experience surrounded by my biggest cheerleaders to putting it out into the universe is scary.
A friend of mine got the sense that I was feeling a little nervous and asked why I was not excited that it was completed. Many have shared their excitement about reading my story about coming out, change, authenticity, and love. I simply told her that I did not want to disappoint anyone. I learned that while the words may be finished, the real work now starts. The next phase is putting it out there, well before it is a finished product. My 44th year will begin with overcoming my fear that it sucks, yes there were days like this, and by embracing the changes that happen when a child goes off to college. My focus will now need to be placed on overcoming my fear of Twitter, Pinterest and Word Press. Should be a piece of birthday cake.