ok, this isn’t a picture of a merry-go-round. But it IS a picture of my beautiful daughter riding in a contraption that kinda looks like one… Remember the feeling as a kid of being on a merry-go-round that’s going faster and faster, much faster than you ever thought it could go and you’re scared and want it to stop but that super strong kid named Gus- who you know there’s no way in hell is 8 years old- keeps pushing it to spin like it’s about to shoot off into space and now everything is a blur and you’re sure you’re gonna puke up the Frosted Flakes you had for breakfast and you just hope that Jesus answers your prayer of survival so you can make it to art class after this traumatic recess experience because it’s puff paint day and you’ve got jeans to jazz up? Ugh. Gus is such a diq.
I didn’t realize that the proverbial merry-go-round scenario would play out again in my adulthood. And yet, here I am. Holding on for dear life, praying to the Lord Almighty for any help He’ll throw my way. I’ve puked up my grown up breakfast of bland oatmeal, water, and 3 grapes. (Ok, if I’m being honest, it’s a chocolate croissant from Starbucks). Now what?
What do we do when it’s not a merry-go-round that is threatening our survival (or at least our breakfast)? What do we do when it’s life? What do we do when it’s not Gus pushing us faster and faster but all the weight of responsibilities and obligations? Work and deadlines and self loathing because we have debt and field trip money and vacations to pay for and braces and new clothes (because kids grow at an alarming rate when you properly feed and water them) and a new car (because my husband’s car apparently lost it’s street-legal status when the driver’s seat fell out). What do we do when it all piles up on top of us like a bunch of stupid 13 year old boys at a house party yelling “DOG PILE!” just before they jump on the nearest girl minding her own business (yes, I was that girl). How do we get out from under the weight without it crushing us?
What do we do when the house that was once our dream becomes a financial prison? When the education we thought would save us from the cycle of poverty turns out to be the very thing financially chaining us to the ground? Do we throw up our hands and surrender to the mainstream Negative Nancys saying that we can’t have it all, and it’s time to grow up and give up our dreams? Or do we continue to fight for it all until we have no fight left? Is there a chance, if we continue to fight, that we’ll win? Is it worth the risk to find out?
There’s gotta be an answer, right? I’ve heard that there exists a magical people who really do get to live their dream. They love their job. They live the life they want. How? How do they get off the merry-go-round without losing an arm? Did they even ever get on it? How do they take control and slow it down? When you’ve built a life and financial stability over decades of hard work only to realize that what you thought was attainable is just a mirage, what are the options? Do you uproot your kids’ lives and the stability they’ve come to expect only to downgrade everything? Or do you wait it out until life makes that decision for you? Or do you try to hold on and get it all?
I’m asking all of these questions because I want to know the answers. Not rhetorically. I want off of this stupid merry-go-round. I mean, I don’t wanna die or anything. Quite the opposite. That merry-go-round bi-atch is a death trap and I want off because I want to LIVE. Now all I gotta do is figure out what I’m good at, what I love doing, and how to make money with it. I mean, ma kids gotta eat! Simple, right? Dolly Parton did it. Betty White did it. Richard Simmons did it. Maybe I can, too. Step 1: Google ‘how to be Betty White’. Who’s comin’ with me?