I went to bed exhausted late last night. Then I couldn't sleep. My body tingled and could not get comfortable. I focused on my breathing. I got up twice. Then I repeated "be still" over and over, in a plea for quiet and insight. This morning I felt that things had shifted and unwelcome tears tell me that I am in a different place. I asked for help, which did not mean that the insight would be easy or what I wanted to hear. It does me no good to ignore what I now see and need to face.
Four things have happened over the past five days that have led to my feeling so out of kilter:
1. On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending the college graduation of my oldest son's girlfriend. Earning a college degree is always a big deal. It is hard work and deserves copious amounts of celebrating. After the ceremony we were invited to a party hosted by her family, three generations of people who like each other and have a good time when they get together. We met many members of this family at the party they hosted for my oldest son when he graduated from college, only six months after my son started dating the girlfriend. This family knows my son and likes him as much as we do. *Congratulations again CTH ~ we love you*
2. My daughter the doctor called Monday morning and I had no good advice to offer. I was in a funk and still not dressed, and I could not muster the energy to join her for lunch. I was no help at all.
3. My youngest son is flying to Florida tomorrow morning, and he needed no help from me whatsoever. His steel bridge team from NEU won first place in the Northeast, so they are going to Florida for the national competition. He didn't need my help with the planning or the packing. My contributions were limited to buying him apples for the trip, reminding him a dozen times where the snack bars are kept, and asking him if he charged his cell phone.
4. I have been reading mommyblogs, particularly svmoms and dooce, for hours at a time this week. I am reminded of what it was like to have children whose lives were inextricably intertwined with mine. Oh, the tears come with those words....
The contradiction for me is that I loved every stage of my children's lives as they grew into the independent adults they are now. They are three individuals, different in many ways and alike in others. I wanted them to make their own decisions, take care of themselves, and have their own lives. I didn't think past that ~ I didn't think about what my life would become.
My children did not join my life ~ my children helped me create my life. My husband and I started our life together from scratch. We call ourselves "The Maine Mitchells" because we moved to Maine to start over. Our family is not like any other family either one of us knew growing up, including our own. And we like our children. They are our favorite people.
And though we love our children, we didn't want them to live with us forever. Ken and I enjoy our time together as much as we enjoy our time as a family.
I've never felt like my nest was empty ~ this isn't about physical space or close proximity. My children are still a part of my life. This is about me as the mother of grown children. This is about the most important job I will ever do coming to an end. This is about no longer doing what I love most with the people I love most.
I loved being a mom. I never for a moment regretted our decision to have children. I shaped twenty-nine years of my life around my family ~ their needs and schedules determined how I spent my days, what jobs I took, and when I had time to do the things I wanted to do. I grumbled at times, yet I knew that I would never get that time back and what I did would impact the rest of their lives. I wanted what was best for my family because that was what was best for me. My husband and children loved me and stood by me through good times and tough times.
There are women my age who have young children at home, like kids-who-haven't-started- school-yet young. That boat sailed a long time ago for me, not that I want young children in the house again. If I could still have a baby, that might be a good fall-back postion....No, there is not any instance where that would be a good choice for me. That chapter has been written.
Now it's time to write the next chapter in the book of my life. This is about staying present and letting go. It's about the hard work that makes life great. It's about taking a long, honest look at who I am and liking what I see.