Leap

betta_male_blue_120125a2_w0640At age seven, my daughter Taylor created agendas for her weekends. She always laid out her clothes on school nights, and she never forgot to do her homework. So when Taylor and her friend came home from the pet store with a fish in a baggie it was an uncharacteristic “leap” for her. “What were you thinking?” I shouted, as I considered the fact we had no fishbowl in the house. Or fish food. Or little fishbowl toys, “I named him Joey,” she said as she looked up at me, tears pooled in her blue eyes.

What lives on in family lore is “how Mom freaked out when Taylor brought home the fish.” What is less remembered is how we grabbed a Tupperware bowl and made a makeshift home for Joey. That we must have done something right because Joey lived longer than any earthly fish should live. The lessons under the surface that things generally work out and that it’s best not to get too worked up about things sometimes take longer to learn.

After this blip in Taylor’s orderly character, she returned to form as she grew older. She finished college in four years and landed a job right after graduation. She continued to arrive 30 minutes early anywhere she needed to be. At her job she would finish in four hours what she was expected to do in eight. And she was setting goals, the most prominent to move to New York City.

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Taylor, the ultimate NY Rangers fan, outside of Madison Square Garden

In our phone conversations over the summer of 2013, Taylor went from saying, “I wish I could move to New York” to “I want to move to New York in November!” She quickly saved money, quit her job, and bought a plane ticket. Without a job in New York. Without seeing her rental in person. Without knowing hardly anyone. Did I mention she didn’t have a job?

“What were you thinking?” bellowed by me — this time over the phone line — had the same effect on my then-24 year-old daughter. But this time Taylor did the scrambling: She arrived in New York on November 16th and started work on November 18th, she celebrated “Friendsgiving” with a pal from high school who lives in the city, and she is every day arriving 30 minutes early to a job she loves. Clearly I had learned nothing from Joey.

A popular self-help book encourages women to “lean in.” But for some women like Taylor, the better mantra might be leap. A well-timed leap might make the difference between a life of mediocrity and one filled with a fish named after a cute boy. A life of gliding on the streets of New York chasing dreams. The companion book for mothers might aptly be titled Trust.

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