It is interesting to me as a mother, formerly a full time, stay at home mother, now in her later years, how long it took for me to acknowledge or even understand that our children are doing just fine without our help. I think a contributing factor to my failure to see this may be that these children were my biggest and maybe only significant contribution to the world. I must say that because I embraced my role as their caretaker, teacher and full time nurse with great enthusiasm, and because I dearly loved the domestic role I was in, it never occurred to me that one day the role would end. Somehow, I imagined myself as an ongoing contributing editor in their life, and I was, long after there was any need or desire on my children’s part for me to be so.
Fortunately, as life has moved along, I rediscovered other interests and talents that had been shelved in the process of raising children. I love to write! I enjoy putting together rhythmic poems and short stories. I love writing my musings and reflections on life even while I know that they may lay unread forever after they are written. It doesn’t really matter to me though, because for me, writing is such a passion I will write anyway, just for the exercise of it. It is cathartic, somehow, to put my thoughts down on paper. I do this because of my love of language both verbal and written. My soul wants to speak and writing gives it that platform!
I also discovered that I have a love of landscaping and have spent most of my adult life planning vignettes, carving out the earth, digging holes, and planting. Being a gardener and landscaper is somewhat an extension of mothering because it requires planting the seeds, nourishing them and training them up the way you think would be to their best benefit! . I love watching my gardens grow in every sense of that old, worn out phrase. My plants are my children too, and I love them dearly.
I enjoy traveling which is a gift my husband has given to me. “Road tripping” he calls it, and I wasn’t sure this was something I would really enjoy. But, as we traveled the highways and byways of the United States, it brought to life so many things I had only previously read about or pictures I had seen. We got to see oceans, rivers, water falls , canyons, mountains, deserts, prairies, cities, and houses of all architectural varieties and style and size. It has been like a living, breathing beautiful story of this great country and continues to be so.
Needless to say, we are not bored in retirement. But, out of habit, I wanted to check in on the nests of my offspring just to make sure all was o.k. with them. It is! It is a significant moment in a parents life when you realize your children’s well chosen careers which have allowed for them to live a larger life than ours, while living in more substantial homes than we have, as they drive newer and more expensive cars than we do. They are now definitely making more money than we make in retirement. On top of all of this, it is especially gratifying to realize that they are all penny pinchers, not because they have to be, but because they want to be. They are all practical thinkers and not one of them try to keep up with the Jones’s as the old cliche’ goes. They really don’t care what other people do for a living or how they live their life. On this, I feel especially proud.
So, now…..it has finally happened! I have finally come to the realization that they are all just fine in this world without our assistance, but that, happily for us, they still enjoy our company on occasion! It feels like a round trip, all expense paid ticket to an adventure awaiting us, bought and paid for with the hard work of many years of conscientious living.
“Go! ” they say.
“Do while you can!” they say.
“We are just fine, so don’t you worry about us,” they reassuringly tell us!
Well, o.k.! Guess we graduated from Parenthood and somehow we didn’t realize it had happened. That particular job is done.
So, off we go! We are off and running to reclaim that young person we left by the side of life’s road when we were busy taking on the responsibilities of spouse, children, careers, hearth and home. I wonder if we will find those two young people we were so long ago? I think our children think they have become OUR parents in a way, so we can chuck the responsibilities we acquired and truly go out and play.
Hey! Wait for meeeeeeeeeeee! I am going down that road with you at my side and I am so excited!