t’s a strange feeling when your youngest turns 21. You understand that the parenting phase is pretty much over. All opportunities for shaping your kid into a responsible individual have come and gone. You’d better get used to the empty nest.
At the same time, you know that your kid is still young. They’ll still need advice about job hunting, interviewing, and negotiating a contract. About relationships and rentals. They aren’t always realistic. They are still vulnerable.
So you enter into a new phase. You are no longer a full-time Parent. You have now crossed over into the role of Consultant.
As any good consultant, your advice is often asked for, at times badly needed, periodically demanded, but rarely followed. You put yourself on the line for your client by making suggestions. When it goes badly, it is your fault. When it goes well, it’s 100 percent thanks to their genius.
If you want to meet with your client, you have to make arrangements long in advance. Often you have to shell out for their visit when they come to town. You can only hope that there will be a future return on this investment. In the meantime, they have no problem asking you to back them up in all sorts of new ventures. And most of the time, you do. Because, after all, they’re your livelihood.
It’s not all bad. When it comes time to thanking you for your hard work, they are sincere. They introduce you to their friends with an element of pride. You are amused when they begin to reminisce about the “old days.” They have been in the business of life for more than two decades so they feel entitled to claim seniority. This gets you thinking about your own training.
You realize that the consultants from whom you gleaned your skills adapted to sea changes in the same way as you. You suddenly appreciate that they were artisans of the trade and that they taught you techniques that are only implementing now. The irony becomes clear: the more you go forward, the more you go back. Your only hope is that the craftsmanship and attention to detail that you witnessed is passed down to the new generation of workers, and that they continue to project, design and build through the ages.
Collectively, your work spans generations and continents. It stitches patches across black holes of loss. You know this is what you were meant to do and so you rise to the occasion.
The cycle is revolving.
Things will not fall apart.
The center will hold.
You will work hard as a consultant to make it happen.