My primary identity used to be ‘mother’ – both internally, as I saw myself, and as others viewed me.
Mom of five incredible kids.
I’m still a mother; that doesn’t change. But now that they are grown (mostly), living independently (mostly), their existence doesn’t define me – at least externally.
I smile, remembering what it was like to have my five littles tagging along everywhere I went. I used to count – just a quick ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR-FIVE to make sure I had them all. Only if the count came up short did I have to stop and figure out who was missing.
Just me – the mom – and the five.
They grow up – children do that, you know – and one by one they started peeling away. It was different for each of them, both in a literal sense as well as metaphorical. It’s possible to leave home and still stay very connected. But one by one, the Velcro comes apart and they walk upright, without the need of a mama’s hand.
That’s not a bad thing. It’s what we are aiming for all along, right?
So I’m not complaining that my nest is empty or that my kids have abandoned me – not at all. I’m fiercely proud of them and grateful that this part of life is, at least somewhat, proceeding as planned. And I’m fully prepared for any of them to return to the nest for any short-term need of a place to rest.
But what I’m finding interesting and somewhat awkward about these current circumstances is that the peeling away seems to have also pulled some layers of my self -leaving behind something empty. Raw.
Not that cheesy A mother’s heart is always with her children! meme, but something different. More like the open, empty space that’s left behind is an offering from the universe.
A gift, to me.
Look; here is your self, worn and slightly used – but flayed open. Ready.
With it comes a sort of longing that I’m not sure I’ve experienced before. Mixed in with a recognition that, post-50, we’re on the downhill slope, I find myself confronting a longing, almost daily; one that I can’t quite name.
A desire for something different, unfamiliar, foreign.
Truth be told, I find myself pulled and tugged, between the comfort of Who I’ve Been and What I’ve Done, and something much more mysterious and unknown.
This is likely the stereotypical mid-life crisis, some form of the empty next syndrome. I’m okay with being somewhat typical.
But there’s a insistent – if gentle – pulse to this longing, a steady drumbeat that is not.going.away. A deep desire, a sharp craving that has little to do with settling down and everything to do with what feels like will be a deep dive into something.
My spiritual director says I should revisit my writing over the past two years; look for a theme. She seemed to feel confident that whatever is percolating has left some evidence.
I think she’s right.