Your children, all of them, in a very short period of time, make life-course altering decisions- and here is the phenomena: you survive! Not only do you survive, but the amazing thing is that while their lives are moving in new and sometimes scary directions (scary to a mom who has, after all, spent her and their lives together protecting them, cleaning up their messes, and administering first aid both physical and emotional), your life does not change much at all! Sure, you lose some sleep, sprout a few more grays, add yet another wrinkle; but in reality your day-to-day continues on in the directions that you are choosing. In fact, and I find this startling, no one out in public even knows that earthshaking things are going on in your family. It’s all new to me, this idea that my kids can, will, and do make choices and it has nothing to do with me! Truly now, I am the mother of adult children and the transition/break is complete. It’s a very, very odd feeling.
As I progress through life stages, things keep hitting me in the face. I think I have it together relatively well; at each stage of my journey I have always felt that way with confidence. And then WHAM, something unexpected happens and I feel broadsided, t-boned. It’s like walking through a maze in complete darkness and hitting a turn, literally. Sure, looking back I can think “hello, Captain Obvious” but that is the crystal clear vision of hindsight, a wonderful gift of boy am I dumb, who knew?
When I was a teenager, I had it all together all right: I knew I was going to graduate from high school, move out west and start my life’s adventures with little connection to my past. WHAM- out of no where this guy shows up and he is stubborn! He insists on joining me on my journey. Sharp right turn… In my twenties, I had it all together too: I would be a teacher, own a house, have a couple of babies. WHAM- how about three babies in a year and a half, and a move back to the east coast with no jobs, money or place to live. Sharp left turn…Raising children while teaching full-time became my next stage. Our focus as a family was to really create a GREAT family- fun, adventure, learning, time together, family first. We did it, and we did it well. WHAM -the darn kids grew up, went off and did exactly as we taught them to do: be independent, find your own way and start your own version/vision of life.
I have not written on this blog for a long time due to the fact that I was kind of afraid to do so. Afraid to say out loud, in public, indelibly and forever on the internet, that I was freaking out a bit about the rapidity of the changes and the drastic-ness of it all. That I was in a transition and a breaking of the path I was on and heading in new directions. But wait, once again, it is not me that is going through all of these changes; so why does it feel as if I am? I thought I was in Stage 3 already- the empty nest, the kids on their own and us adjusting to being a couple again. Little did I know that this was a years-long transition and that the break was not yet complete, the way it feels now.
Don’t get me wrong please- I am not unhappy or regretful. I merely find myself, once again, pondering and reflecting on where I am, where I came from, where I might be going next. One thing I have learned is to add the “might” in the last part of that sentence. You truly never, ever, ever know what is going to happen and where it will take you. I have learned to fasten my seatbelt and hang on, because I am not really walking through a maze in pitch darkness, I am really on a rollercoaster plunging and twisting and turning in the pitch darkness. Wheeeeee. All along my way, I have sought out role models- people who have already been where I am headed and can offer some support, advice, hand-holding, sympathy, empathy; some been-there-done-that-and-you-do-survive. I admire them, listen carefully to them, take what gems I can from them, and then double-check my seatbelt.
I am a very fortunate woman. I have three amazing adult children that I guided in the beginnings of their paths, an amazing man to accompany me on my journey, and true friends who stand beside me as I careen through my days. I am in the third decade in my chosen profession; starting new hobbies; and finding more adventures to enjoy. All I can say is: hang on!