About me: In search of definition

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.

8 thoughts on “About me: In search of definition

  1. Many of my friends are going through this transition right now. I would think that, although it is full of opportunity, it would be very difficult as well. I love how honest you’ve been in this post.

    I am wondering if you can—or event want to—make your freelancing full time instead of heading into an office environment right away. Or would you feel too isolated?

    I seem to be taking more and more of a book group break myself, between conflicts and wanting to read what’s on my nightstand for a change (I am a sloooow reader when it comes to reading for pleasure).

    Sometimes one needs to pull back for awhile. I often find myself socializing a lot, then hiding out for awhile.

    I think I am just rambling now. But I appreciated this post.


    1. Thanks. IB. I know I’m not alone in this transformation, but it sure feels like I am.

      I might be able to still work from home — but probably not.


  2. Although the style is completely different, the theme of this post is remarkably similar to Mali’s most recent one. That’s not to accuse either of you of plagiarism! It’s just interesting that both of you are going through similar things at the same time. So you’re definitely not alone!

    I liked your comment on redefining yourself; what’s different about it this time though, that makes you not look forward to it? In defense of office work, I actually look forward to spending time there with my coworkers, who are a fabulous bunch (except the one the Buddha hasn’t yet done in with an ice pick). I sometimes dream of working at home in my pajamas, but realize I would miss the work environment terribly.


    1. I’ll have to re-read Mali’s post, assuming I’ve already read it.

      The difference this time, Helen, is that it is a forced redefinition. All the other times the redefinition was something I did.

      As for office work — I may enjoy it, but I did it in the early 2000’s and, while I loved my co-workers, didn’t like dressing (up) for the office, driving in rush-hour traffic, sharing an office (or not having windows in an unshared cubicle). Also the door decoration contests and the general team-building exercises seemed fake to me.


  3. Aaah… there’s no dress code (official or unofficial) where I work, I ride my bike there, have a window that opens in an office that I only occasionally share with a student, and we never have door decorating or team-building exercises. Maybe it’s something to do with an academic vs. corporate environment?


  4. Wow, Dona, the kids leaving home AND a new job is a lot to deal with at the same time. As for the relationship with your husband–you spent 20 years raising kids, now you’ll have at least 40 more to go on “dates” together. But yes, it is a readjustment. I’m a little worried about the job, though–the commute, the windowless office…I would find those hard to deal with too. Like IB says, could you expand your freelancing?

    Keep us posted.


  5. I finished working full-time and still remember the confusion I felt in reinventing myself. I didn’t know how to describe myself. (Didn’t help at the same time I was trying to become a mother – that was a whole different label-confusion thing I was coming to terms with). I’m right now contemplating going back to work full-time, and it scares me frankly. It scares me that I might lose the aspects of me that make me ME (me me me!!) such as the volunteering/blogging me for example), it scares me that I won’t have as much time to spend with my husband and we’ll lose our closeness. If I’m honest, I’m terrified.

    I wanted to share a story of my parents though. Life on the farm was hard, and they were often stressed, and so busy doing their own things . I didn’t see them as close. But after we had left home, and later in their retirement, their relationship blossomed, and they developed a really lovely closeness. You’ll get there – it’s just another change in your life.


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