This morning I went for a run.
And being the 4th of July, Independence Day, I was thinking about this holiday.
I was thinking about how one of the greatest things about this country is that we have freedom.
And then as I was running I started thinking about how, in this country where we have the freedom to live the way we want to, so many of us are living defensively.
We are feeling the need to rationalize decisions. We are worried about what other parents will say. We are trying to keep up with other people, to our detriment.
We are paranoid and overly protective.
We stress about every single thing that could possibly go wrong.
And living like that, constantly being on high alert, constantly worrying, constantly comparing is the total opposite of freedom. It’s constricting and suffocating. It’s being a prisoner.
In some areas of my life I have been living more freely, especially in the last couple years.
But there are other areas where I’m still operating under the assumption that I’m going to have to protect myself.
I’m not doing it anymore.
Maybe it’s because we are out of the very large shadow of financial ruin and I am finally able to see things in the light.
Maybe it’s because I’m 46 and at the halfway point of my life and it’s fucking game time. A mid-life crisis.
Maybe it’s because I’m 46 and I’m just a lot smarter and experienced and I finally get what’s important.
But it doesn’t really matter.
I live in the goddamned land of the free.
And that’s the way I’m gonna live the second act of my life.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to live with reckless abandon.
But I’m done living defensively.
I will not live my life with a perpetual zone defense.
I will take good care of myself. I will make the healthiest choices I can for myself and my family.
But we are gonna have fun while we are doing it.
My way may not be my parents’ way or my friend’s way or my neighbor’s way, and that is totally fine.
We will not live in fear of ticks and cancer and online predators and non-organic food and nitrates and whatever the hell else is out there.
We will go hiking in the woods (without long-sleeved, light colored clothing on), we will play in the sun and we will eat more hot dogs and ice cream than we should in the summer.
I will not make decisions based in paranoia of what other people might think or say about me.
I will freely wear a bikini in the summer, no matter what the size of my waist is.
I will let my kids stay up too late sometimes.
I will use all forms of the word fuck whenever I feel it’s necessary. (Which is basically all the time).
If I think something is not cool and it affects me or my family, I will be vocal about it (but I will try to do that without being a complete asshole).
I will let my four-year-old use knives as well as the stove, and I will let my her practice crossing the street on her own when I feel it’s appropriate.
I will let the kids skip school if I feel like it’s worth it as often as I want, even after the school sends home a threatening letter about attendance.
I won’t let the middle schoolers have a cell phone but I will let them walk down the road to school on their own.
I will continue to tell the kindergarten and first grade teachers that my kids will not be doing any homework if it is sent home, because I don’t believe in that shit for five and six -year-olds.
I won’t let my nine-year-old get her ears pierced even though every other girl in the whole school has hers pierced.
I won’t let the eleven-year-old on Instagram but I will let him cut the grass with the push mower and the riding mower.
I will drive my 2006 Suburban, with 110,000+ miles and rust on the bumpers until it becomes unsafe or completely shits the bed.
I will continue to do whatever I feel is the best thing for my family and for me. Without apology or rationalization or second guessing myself.
Because I have the freedom to do that, and in this land of the free and the home of the brave, I’m gonna exercise all of it.