On Being Where You Are



I recently had coffee with a new friend.  Even though we’d just met, I felt comfortable talking candidly with her about where I am in my life and my struggle to be present with my children while also preparing to go back to work in some capacity.  She gave me some very good advice.  She said, “You can’t be anywhere other than where you are. Right now, you are the mother of two very young boys.  You’ve moved three times in the past four years, and you’re just now getting settled in a new home.  That is your reality.” 

 Her words were not mind-blowing by any stretch.  But her wisdom sat with me, playing quietly in my head for the rest of the day.   

As my friend said, right now, I am in the process of raising two incredible little boys (ages 2 years and 4 months), consulting (to keep my mind sharp) and writing on the side.  The business my sister and I started two years ago has, for now, taken a backseat to life’s events, work and family.  Neither one of us knows when we will pick it up again.

There are days when I feel completely settled in this stage of life. I relish the fact that everything feels a little undone.  Yes, it’s hard to finish any one task because countless other tasks call, but there is also no risk that I will be bored to tears by any one routine.  Because there is no routine. And with that comes a lot of freedom.

 There are other days, however, when the freedom leaves me feeling a little unsettled.  And I find myself wishing for a life that’s a little less grey, for a stronger dividing line between my work and family life, for a clearer path forward. Some days I pray for someone to look at me and say “right this way,” and hand me the keys to a door leading to more certain and chartered territory.

But when I’m reminded to be where you are,  I breathe.  I remind myself that, for better and for worse, this too shall pass.  My boys will grow up. I will one day find myself rushing out of the door, late to a meeting, and wishing I had more time at home with my little ones.  I will long for days when I can hold my baby for as long as we both want, when I have time to make my son’s favorite homemade apple sauce, when my husband and I can have an impromptu lunch date and catch up on each other’s lives. 

These are precious times, I remind myself.  And I settle more deeply in my friend’s words: You can’t be anywhere other than where you are.  And with that, I continue being.

Chinue Turner Richardson is a lawyer who lives in Oakland, California with her husband and two boys, Cole (2.5 years old) and Jett (5 months).

Featured Image via Olli Ella (Cassia Dress)