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Revisiting The Picket Fence
Grace & Aging - Tan headshot
Debbie Henry
April 13, 2021

What happened to the picket fence? You know, iPicket Fence Dreamst is how our lives were supposed to turn out.  In each of our minds, we have always pictured how our lives would be. If you follow me on Instagram,  you recently read how when I was  young, whenever we would travel, my dad would have a Rand McNally road atlas that would give us specific directions on how to reach our destination.  Yes, this was pre Google Maps days.  I remember this even happened when we would travel to my grandmother’s house four states away.  We had made the trip at least what seemed hundreds of times before, but dad would always refer back to the map, sometimes even stopping on the road to reference it time and again.

Parents Dreams of Picket Fences

For most of us, from the time we came into this world, our parents just knew we would be a teacher, doctor, lawyer, stay at home mother; well, you get the idea.  As we aged, we began to develop our own self awareness and the idea of who we wanted to be; separate from our parents.  For some, the plan included college or technical school.  For some, it meant going straight from high school to a full time job.

Graduation from High School

Our Reality vs The Picket Fence

I was raised in the South. For many females my age, the “plan” set for us was to graduate from high school, go to college, marry and have children.  Yes, in that order.  Now, I am not saying there is anything wrong with this.  But what happens when a person is taught to plan their whole life around these ideals and the plan does not go like it was supposed to?  Some felt like they had failed. Let’s take this a step further.  What happened when we actually followed all of the steps and then decided we liked being single?  What about when one of the spouses unexpectedly dies?   Worst of all (according to people older than us) was what happened when the big “D” happened?  We no longer had the hope of the white picket fence. The script that had been written for us all of those years would now be rewritten.

When any of these events happen, I assure you they are NEVER what we expected or planned for and  in many cases is not want we even wanted. (But, that’s another blog for a different day). But, they happen.  And what do we do with it?

Being Free Of The Picket Fence

You see, not having the picket fence around us means we are free to create a life that is suited to and for us.  It does not mean that this is what we wanted for ourselves, but it’s what we do with it.  For those who have had any of these types of experiences, there was a great deal of emotional pain, guilt, and sadness.  Relationships were changed because of the situation.  Often children were affected.  Our financial status was affected.  Whether it was a death or divorce, the situation changed and it was up to us to pull out our atlas and decide what direction to go.

When using a, there  road map, there was no one to tell us if part of the road would be out.  There was no one to let us know if a river had risen so that we could not get to our destination.  We would not know until it happened.  Then it was up to us to find our way to the destination a totally different way…our own way.

That’s life.  It happens.  Sometimes, things go according to plan.  Sometimes they do not.  For us, there is no roadmap.  It is up to us to make our own way.  Often others will not understand our new direction, but that’s okay.

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