My oldest child turns 21 today. No longer a child (although she hates when I say that). Although I can remember life before her, I have a hard time remembering a time when I didn’t know her. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s quirky (in a good way). She’s talented. She’s simply amazing. She’s my daughter. Happy 21st birthday, Clare.
Just a quick post to let you know we survived the earthquake on August 23. I was sitting at my computer in my attic office when the desk began to shake. My first thought was — as it always is when my desk shakes — EARTHQUAKE. Then I thought it was probably construction or a truck driving down the street. Then it got stronger and I thought, EARTHQUAKE! Then I thought, YAY! EARTHQUAKE ON MY BIRTHDAY. Then I thought, SAVE THE KIDS! and ran downstairs to tell the kids, who were running around the house yelling, EARTHQUAKE!! to get outside, NOW!
They went out the back door and I went out the front door. We all met in the front yard along with all the neighbors who were home at that time. Everyone was asking, DID WE JUST HAVE AN EARTHQUAKE?
Later, after we went back into the house and confirmed that we did, in fact, have an earthquake, the kids named it a birthday quake. We assessed the damage:
It was delicious.
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.