Our roles in each relationship are likely to affect how we identify ourselves.
My identity as a mother has remained, but parts of me have changed over the years.
My three sons have grown now and have moved entirely into lives of their own. They have moved to a world of work, friendship and, all other attachments. A separate sphere where I am, for the most part, a welcome visitor.
I have always believed that parenting is more about preparing them to be independent, to be competent and enthusiastic about moving into a meaningful adult lives and less about having ‘happy’ children indefinitely clingy and dependent.
I have much to be grateful for: my sons are loving, thoughtful, they have interests and meet most challenges with most self-confidence and competence. They keep in touch and thanks to my middle son; I have four beautiful grandchildren.
Plenty of books and information on child development are available, but very little is said or written on the subject of how, over the span of decades during which children grow into adults, their mothers change in profound ways. I know I am certainly not the same woman I was when my first son was born.
When children move out, we suddenly find ourselves with time to reflect. What did we do right? Where could we have improved? How do we spend our remaining time? And who will show up to help with this transition?
Our future selves tend to get neglected as we focus on our children’s future. We often hear that we are too old to realise certain dreams. The marriage goes through different emotions, the career that never quite materialised, the friendships that we couldn’t maintain.
We can make this transition more pleasant – and more productive. Opportunity favours the prepared.
Many women find these years some of the best of their horizons, tighten friendships and maintain warm, close relationships with their children (and in turn their grandchildren).
There is something salutary about navigating through motherhood and back into a more independent life. We don’t lose ourselves. In fact, we can become better, certainly wiser, versions of the women we have been.
To continue to parent our grown children well, we might usefully acknowledge and start to prepare for the separations that begin early and accelerate in high school. Gracefully and gradually, we must eventually give up our front and centre position in their lives, learn to be quieter, to give fewer answers and to ask more questions.
Our children’s independence is a reminder of how much we had to give and all that we have accomplished – and it is something to keep in mind as we move back into the centre of our own lives, in ways that will make our children proud.
Things to do. Choose one or several and have fun!
- Love yourself – Spend time in nature. Start an exercise program. Meditate. Eat healthily.
- Start a Gratitude Journal – Write down positive things. Focus on the positive in every situation. It will help you to cultivate a greater sense of happiness and optimism about your life.
- Write that book that you always dream of writing.
- Turn your passion or hobby into a business.
- Find groups of like-minded people.
- Discover your passion and pursue it.
- Research and learn new skills.
- Spend quality time with family and friends.
- Read books or watch movies that bring the best out of you.
Which stepping stones are you creating a new, more vibrant phase of your life? I would love to hear about the beautiful possibilities that you have chosen.
With much appreciation.