“What’s it all about Alfie?”
When we were in our very young adulthood, my friends and I would use this movie scripted phrase as “THE question with no answer” when we were discussing perplexing life issues.. We would also use it as a commentary to our uncertainty when we were unsure of our direction in life. Back then, as we were graduating high school, our lives just kind of evolved. Most of us didn’t have our lives mapped out like young people do these days. In our generation, some of us went to college after high school, some of us went into the military, and the rest just moved forward into life with high hopes, big expectations, and we took life on as it came to us. Many of us developed our skills and talents in fields of work that really interested us, and many turned these jobs into highly successful careers with “on the job” education. Back then, it was expected that we would probably get married, have some kids, and hopefully, live happily ever after.
I certainly had no clue that the “ever after” part would arrive as soon as it did. Looking back, it surprises me to see how long ago it actually was when our youngest left the nest, because in some ways, it feels so recent. All those years ago, we found ourselves with a newly empty nest, in our newly built home, living a newly formed life here in Austin, Texas, which is on the opposite end of the country from where we were born, raised and had lived most of our lives. Our kids were already fairly independent of us by then, busy in careers, college, and life, so we were free to focus on ourselves. The only problem was, I didn’t really know how to turn the focus back to myself after having spent the largest part of my adult life (up to that point), focused on raising and guiding our children. Even now, all these years later, it still comes as a bit of a jolt to find out that the “children” don’t need nor want that kind of a mother anymore. Yet, I should know better, because while they are MY children, they are not CHILDREN!
“We don’t need your help” they say.
“Thanks, but, I can do it myself! they say.
“We are just fine!” they say.
“We can take care of ourselves!”, they say.
I say, “WHAAAAAAAAAT?
Well, I guess if one got a report card for Mothering, my teaching grade on the subject of Autonomy would be pretty high. The definition of Autonomy is described as “freedom to determine one’s own actions, behavior, etc. To govern oneself.” This certainly describes our independent offspring! I am very happy about this. However, the other side of this high grade is that my role was “downsized”.
In these ensuing years since their departure, Al and I have kept ourselves busy creating our urban oasis. It has been a lot of fun using our creative energies and nurturing skills on something that responds and evolves.
Since our role as guide to our children has been met, it may be time to go back and pick up the child we left at the side of life’s road so long ago. I am beginning to think I would like to reacquaint myself with that little girl who I once knew so well, “once upon time, long, long ago”. How often I have remembered her childish joy, her avid curiosity and her ever present positivity. The girl that my mother said had a favorite word, “why?” which was testimony to the ongoing sense of wonder about everything not fully understood. The testimony to my obsession with reading. My obsession with writing. This is still true.
Once I collect my inner child and Al collects his inner child, we will bring the two of them forward, introduce them to each other in their new identity, and tell them that they are free to go and explore life, hand in hand. (No one here to tell them the word “no”). God has blessed us in allowing us to live long enough to return to our original selves..a little older, a little wiser, and a little the worse for wear. These are the two children who will wake up each day and leap out of bed, eager to greet what the day will have in store with us. We’ll sit on a beach with our toes buried in the sand, the waves lapping at our feet. We’ll lay back in the grass and watch the puffy white clouds float by. We’ll read a good book while rocking to and fro in the hammock. We’ll sit in our swing and watch the bees buzzing from flower to flower.
As for those questions that sometimes have no answers?
We are hoping to find Alfie who will tell us what it is all about!