When Mom Was My Age (#10)

Jerlyn Kay Priest

Jerlyn Kay Priest (age 36) | Jerlyn Kay Priest (2010)

“When Mom Was My Age” is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear every Monday. If you would like to participate, contact Jane.

The following interview is with Jerlyn Kay Priest, interviewed by her daughter Dayla Corcoran(age 36).

Where did you live when you were 36 years old?
Your Dad and I had moved into a rustic old house about six years before my thirty-sixth birthday. We bought the place for $20,000 in a little mountain area called Malibou Lake, and it was quite a change from previous apartment living and office work.

It was a wonderful time where I was able to intertwine my lifelong passion for dance with an outdoor life at home caring for children, vegetable gardening (even took up canning), and beach days with you kids. It was a carefree time of living “in the now.” I stayed there through age 36 and have been there, as you know, ever since.

What was a typical day like for you?
Well, that year started out with me at home enjoying being a mom and taking care of the garden and kids, but ended with financial pressures that pushed me back into an office job and I found myself in a little brokerage company which was hectic and totally not me, but it provided an income. So, a typical day became children off to school, head for office, make the most of a family evening time, and look forward to weekends.

What did you worry about most back then?
I think my biggest concern was how to maintain, along with my job, the home life we had enjoyed and how to be there for you kids and support you in school events, gymnastics, dancing—your own pursuit of talents and passions.

And your hope for the future back then?
My hope for the future was to get out of the job I felt so constraining and to get back into my love for music and dance and share it in some fashion with others; to have a more meaningful and fulfilling work where I could be a help to others; and to have more time to share with family and friends.

How do you look back on this time in your life?
I have a treasure of memories and see it as an energetic time filled with lots of hope along with some real challenges. I had some changes to make and some things to get right, but was quite eager to overcome. I know now there were some pretty tough storms brewing, but at that time I felt I was living life in its fullness, challenges and all.

Can you talk a little bit about where you are now at 66?
I am finally out of the corporate world in which I felt entrapped for so many years.  Wish I could say I took a risk and stepped out boldly to go back into my lifelong passion of dance and music, but the truth is I lost my position, which could have been devastating financially at this point in my life.

However, though I have not been able to go back into dance and music as a profession, I am now able to intertwine and pass along this heart and love to the children I care for as nanny (I’m called Mary Poppins as I think in song) and to their parents, and my kids and my grandchildren. I feel I have a much more meaningful and heartfelt work now to do, as my foremost goal has always been to simply make a difference in other people’s lives and to lift hearts in whatever way I can.

What’s your hope now for the future?
In the next years, I hope to become more free in both time and finances to allow more choices during my week days, now spent in nannying, of how and where and can give of my heart, passions and gifts to others.

When you look at me at 36 or anyone my age—what would you advise knowing what you know now?
You are way ahead of me at knowing what I knew at your age.  I think I will take credit for some of your knowledge since you watched me go through many “storms” and wrong choices, and some real victories, too. I also had a much more sheltered life growing up in that protected family world, so when I left that umbrella and stepped into the real world, I had a lot of catching up and learning to do.

Well, I think we are in pretty similar places actually at 36. Circumstances a bit different, but both have to work and balance selflessness, practicality, and creative desires. I hope you know that while I sometimes wished you did more for yourself earlier in life, I appreciate your selflessness back then and even now in helping me pursue my creative desires and being a mom.

Oh yes, we are very similar, and that’s why we understand each other’s hearts so well.

Posted in When Mom Was My Age.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Raising children to be creative & resilient is one of the most important jobs in the world. I hope, soon, that you’re able to get more time for just yourself, too, though.