Second Serve. It sounds like a tennis blog, and yet it doesn’t really look like a tennis blog. What’s up with that?
Second Serve is how I describe this season of my life. It fits with my enjoyment of tennis, as well as the fact I spend more time (certainly more than I care to admit) on this sport, an activity that’s become a metaphor for me. While I’m generally content with most of the “first serves” in my life (e.g. my choice of spouse, my decision to give family priority over career), there are of course quite a few mess-ups: the proverbial road I didn’t take, the bad decisions, the friends with whom I lost touch.
In tennis the second serve is a pressure moment: this time the ball has to go in. Tennis pros warn us we need to practice our second serve on its own, not just consider it a more conservative version of our first serve. Most of them recommend the “slice” or “kick” serve, both of which impart spin and a different “look” for our opponent. To have a good second serve, you don’t want to rush it — you take a breath, maybe bounce the ball a couple of times, whatever your routine is to calm down and focus. Your opponent may be waiting to attack, but you can be confident that you’re ready.
So that’s me, working on my second serve. Perched at the beginning of my 50’s, watching as my children leave home one by one, I’m wrapping up my “job” as a stay-at-home mom. A job I’ve been privileged to choose, a job I’ve loved more than I ever thought I would. But now it’s drawing to a close, and I have to figure out what’s next. What my next serve is going to look like.
Not that all my first serves were bad — in fact, the ones that had to do with raising kids were mostly okay. But the ideas I had for careers or what I wanted out of life back when I was in my 20’s — well, that’s not me now. So I need to pause, take a breath, bounce the ball a few times, calm down and focus. Not rush into the next thing until I know what it is. Sounds easy, but it’s hard.
The best part is, though, that the game isn’t over. Sure, some days it seems like it’s ending, like when your oldest child moves out and you know that the next time he comes back, he’ll be a visitor in his own home. But there are still more points to be played. And still more games, and maybe even sets after that. The good news is, you get another chance. You get a second serve.
Anne Hamner Rosales
Menlo Park, California