Last week when I posted my dilemma on Facebook regarding my “about me” statement, my mother’s pastor suggested I change it to “Mother of two…In search of definition”. I chuckled at the comment, but didn’t feel like I was in search of definition. I knew who I was.
The more I thought about the comment, however, the more I realized he was right. I think I am currently in search of definition. In less than a month we’ll drive our youngest child to college and then we’ll be “empty nesters”. I’ve quit (albeit temporarily) both of my bookgroups. Soon I’ll be working full-time, probably in an office.
When I became a parent I automatically obtained a new definition, and while I’m still going to be a parent, the definition I’ve had for the past 20 years is fading to an aside.
Not only will I need to redefine myself, I need to redefine my relationship with my husband. We spent the past 20 years raising our kids; spending weekends doing kid-related things; spending evenings helping with homework. Our focus was the kids. What are we going to do without that focus?
I’ll let you in on a secret — while I love being a parent, I envy the relationships I see between people who don’t, for whatever reason, have children. I watch Howard and Ruthie — neighbors who live behind us. They’re always doing things together — traveling, shopping, bringing in groceries together. They have a togetherness I wish I had with my husband. Then there is my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Jack. They have a comfortable routine that seems so snug and easy. Something I don’t feel in my life — life with the kids has always been a little chaotic. Finally, there is our own IB who admitted she still sheds a tear when her honey leaves town. I’ve always looked forward to my honey leaving town when I could be the decision-maker for a while instead of the rule-follower. I wish I could miss him when he was gone. I could go on and on — Mali and her honey travel to wildly exotic places. Violet Monkey and her honey do too, and make amazing sounding healthy meals together.
I’ve also defined myself as a reader, but lately I’ve not been much of a reader. It took me months to read one 500 page book and I’m having trouble getting through a much smaller book a friend loaned me. By taking a sabbatical from my book groups I’ve eliminated at least 20 social engagements for the next year. I’ve pulled away from friends lately — I think it is partly because of this transformation I’m feeling. Or perhaps I’m just depressed about it.
I’ve worked part-time and “on-call” at home for the past 8 years or so. I’ve made my own hours and worked, sometimes — often, in my pajamas. Getting up, getting ready for work, driving 45 minutes or more in rush-hour traffic and sitting in an office (probably windowless and shared with two other people) is not my idea of a good way to spend over half of my waking hours.
I used to look forward to the times I could redefine myself: college, moving to a new area, beginning a new job. I could leave behind the parts of me that I didn’t like and try on new ones. The new people I’d meet would not know about my temper or my shyness or my unpopularity in high school. I am not looking forward to this redefinition period. What will I be? Empty-nester-office-drone? Eww. I don’t like the sound of that.