The wedding went off without a hitch. Or so it seemed.
I was happy for my son. He and his new bride, my new daughter-in-law, seemed extremely happy. I watched them walk down to the alter, down to the excitement of a new life together, and yet, I couldn’t feel it. I couldn’t feel that great joy for them that I thought I should be feeling. Instead, it was as if something inside me had died.
I went through my week going through my routine, but with more aches and pains in my body than usual. In that same week, my daughter called and asked if she could stay with us for a while. She was getting transferred and would not have an apartment for a few months. She and her new boyfriend were moving in together and needed that time to save money and find a place. I told her it would be fine.
In the following days, I found myself so overjoyed at the prospect of my daughter returning home that I actually would weep with joy. To have another woman in the house again, a friend, someone to confide in, someone to tell me if my pants are too short or if they make me look fat.
Then suddenly, the fear kicked in. The reality, too. My daughter would be working and so would I. She’d be spending time with her boyfriend; I’d be spending time with my husband. It wouldn’t be a continuous sleepover. No, instead it was like my son’s wedding. This was really the transition to a new life for her. A life of commitment to her career and her lover. It was not a return to motherhood for me. No, it was just another nail in the coffin of motherhood.
Yes, that’s what I realized. My life was over.
It had been a great ride, and my husband and I have raised three wonderful kids. I even believe I did a good job. But it’s over, and I feel this great void in front of me. Sometimes I feel excited and happy to be entering into this time of “me.” My husband has his interests and friends and activities that don’t include me, which frees me up to go and do as I please, too. I used to resent him, because he could take off any time he wanted and I was always left at home with the small children. One would think I’d be jumping for joy at the prospect of the end to those times, but suddenly – it’s almost as if I want them back. That is the life I know! But this, this walking out the door with no child responsibilities or joys hanging on my arm or my leg, this is different. This is scary!
Awareness is half the battle, right? I mean, you hear me say that all the time. So with the awareness that I am fearing this new phase of my life where my world is my own, I move forward. Put one foot in front of the other, that’s what they say.
Stepping into the void can be like someone saying to knit a scarf when you don’t know how to knit. If I don’t pick up the needles, though, I can assume I will never even make a stitch. Like anything else, if you want to learn it, you have to jump in.
Even so, sometimes I feel like the child whose parents believe the way to teach a child to swim is to just throw him or her into the deep end. Stepping out of motherhood feels as if I’ve just been thrown into the deep. I’m floundering around, but I think I’m starting to tread water – and soon, I am sure, I’ll be enjoying a lazy river ride. Until then, I’m just gonna keep on paddling.