When my daughter was five she had a pink plastic play phone decorated with Disney princesses. Otherwise she wasn’t much into princess gear, but this one she loved. She wedged it in between her tiny shoulder and ear and talked while she put together jigsaw puzzles. She walked her stuffed toys out on the street, leash in one hand, phone in the other. It was a real battle to get her to put on shoes for preschool in the morning. That was until the day when she raised her hand to me while shielding the phone to her chest and said:
“Sshh, Mom, I’m talking to Ron!”
That was a real wake-up call, pun intended, because Ron was my boss at the time, so there was just one person from whom she could have heard those words. It scared me. It made me take a hard look at myself and my choices. I realized that my children do as I do, not as I say, that I can tell them to put down their phones, follow their dreams and take the road less traveled until I’m blue in the face; they ain’t gonna do sh*t unless I practice what I preach. I asked myself if what I was doing was what I wanted to model to my kids. The answer was no.
I have always wanted to write stories; happy stories, sad stories, stories of love, of life, stories that make us think and cry and laugh and remember that we are in control of and can change our narrative. There is more than one way to skin a cat – but please don’t do that. I was too busy, too responsible, too afraid to heed the storytelling call and instead I went for a sensible degree in economics and a glowing career in financial risk management. Until that day when my daughter asked me to talk to the hand.
Because how can I teach my children to be adventurous when I show them that they can settle for less? How can I teach them to trust their instincts when I show them that what the world thinks matters more? How can I teach them to go for it if I have the chance and do not?
So I did. I quit my corporate job and gave my suits and high heels away and started writing. I started writing the stories that come to me. The stories I hear and the stories I tell myself. I changed from having vague goals of “advancement” and “recognition” to having only two simple guidelines for what I do:
- The outcome has to be something tangible, something my children can show their children and say: “Your grandmother made this!”
- It cannot be anything I wouldn’t want my kids to do.
It has brought a new perspective to my life. It is not unicorns and rainbows every day. Not even every week. I have to treat it like a job, and a very lonely one at that. But I am happy. I am aligned with my authentic self. And most of all, I am proud of what I model to my children.
– Regitze Ladekarl