Discovering my sense of self causes me to reflect on my motherhood role. I spent the last 25 years being a mom. I was far from perfect – just ask the kids. But I loved them and my life revolved around them. While my kids were the center of my world, I never felt like one of those moms whose children were her entire universe. I took classes, had different business ventures and served at church and in Cub Scouts. Absolutely my kids were a huge part of my life, but I had plenty of other facets of my life.
When I got divorced, my foundation was upended. So much of what I thought was reality, turned out to be just my reality. I was aware of plenty of loose bricks in that foundation while I struggled through marriage. Afterwards, those bricks and several others crumbled away. I moved, left my network of friends and the comfort of my neighborhood. I was over 40 years old and for the first time I was living on my own.
I started working full time and I tried to do everything I did as a stay at home mom. I am still surprised that I’m still adjusting three years later. I tried to keep as many of the bricks in tack as possible, but only so much can could fit in a day. I now hate the saying “you make time for the important things”. I had to let go of many things that were important and clung to what was vital; work, motherhood (although in a much different form), and learning. I discovered writing isn’t a hobby, it’s the key to my sanity.
As much as I loved planning elaborate theme parties for my kids, I didn’t have the time or energy. The upside is they had outgrown the structure and preferred to hang out and eat. They lost interest in other traditions and often preferred to spend time staring at a screen or with their friends. I was tempted to try to force them to play with me, but I know the whole “You’re going to fun and like it” thing rarely worked. I tried to plan with them things to do. But feeling them cut those apron strings often left me more isolated than my divorce or moving away from my friends did.
Two years into my ‘new life’, I was still struggling to adjust. Then my middle daughter left for college. This is the daughter that cuddled and comforted me since she was little. She started mothering me before she was 10. We’d spent every day together for several months before school started. When she moved away, I felt so alone. I wandered around the house lost. I knew I’d miss her, but I wasn’t prepared for how much.
It’s a little early to be facing empty nest syndrome since the twins are still home. With the core of my world slipping away, more bricks crumbled and I had no footing. I suppose if things went according to plan, I would be part of a couple and we would handle the change by focusing more attention on each other and rekindling our relationship.
But the realization of how little my kids need me makes me see the importance of figuring out who I am and what makes me happy. I can’t depend on validation from my children, my boss, or a significant other to provide acceptance. I have to do it for myself. I’m the one responsible for building my bridge with bricks of self-love and purpose. I guess the advantage of being alone is I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out.