Much has been written about parenting teenagers as they make their way into adulthood. The mood swings, the verbal dexterity and the ongoing difference of opinion. But less is written about the parents themselves and their transitions as their children grow up.
I have noticed that I am not parenting full-time anymore. My children are by no means self-sufficient yet. But they do need less of me. Or so it seems. They are often in their rooms for homework, school projects or out at an after school club. Apart from the car rides, the only time we spend together is when we sit down for dinner as a family! And thank god, we still have that tradition going.
The child who would come to me for every little scrape, now goes to the medicine cabinet, rips open a band-aid and goes back to his room. See. Not needed as much.
Most of my friends are in a similar phase of life. They had put their careers on hold to be a mother, either by choice, or by sheer exhaustion, and now with their children grown up, and some even off to college in the near future, what is left for them? What is left of them?
Many of the Generation X moms are in this phase of life. The more I talk with my friends, the more we ask ourselves. Have we maintained our individuality? Have we been able to cultivate our interests or hobbies outside of being a mother?
I for one, was the person, who loved to read, had mad cake decorating skills, swam consistently (now I am lucky if I can swim one length of the pool without stopping to catch my breath), took up the French language at one point, knew the artist and lyrics to every song that played on the radio and more importantly – I had a career!
But somewhere along the way, those things died down. I am now a woman reckoning with herself – ‘what do I have left for myself?’. I think perhaps, that is one of the reasons, that pushed me to start this blog last year.
You know, I had imagined myself to be this unrelenting woman who pursued her dreams! Yes one of those kind! My entire purpose in life was not to parent my children, but to have something more for myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom to my kids (and a tiger mom at that!), but there has to be more – right?
Is there a sense of fulfillment for yourself, after parenting your children? Needless to say, I’ve met this reality with some ambivalence!
But how easy is it to go back to rekindling your interests or restarting your career. A resume gap now seems like a liability. What will provide sustenance as you enter this phase of life?
On the flip side, as you are navigating through motherhood, you are not the same person anymore. You have matured. You have experienced. What seemed meaningful before, may not hold the same value. But now is the time, we can actually invest in ourselves and pursue interests that were on the back burner all this time.
In essence, I think it is important to maintain your hobbies and to constantly learn, while traversing motherhood. If you pursue something that inspires you and that you are passionate about, you constantly grow. You gain confidence, creativity and a fresh perspective. So keep learning, keep challenging yourself and explore new adventures. You learn more about yourself, and meet like-minded people in the process. (And we know how much we value those more after we hit 40!).
The more I write, I realize that there are more questions than answers. Go figure!!
I guess this post is not meant to be one of the ‘5 ways you can rediscover yourself after motherhood’, but rather, something to ponder over. They key to this, is perhaps, think about the non-parenting years before they arrive.
Pingback: Parenting in Islam – Adeeba Jafri
I can of course identify with this too Nadia. It’s a new journey and also one that I wouldn’t exchange. There are times when we have all become a shell of ourselves and it’s been tough but I’m all for rebranding the good self and moving forward. A period of transition is always necessary though and that is often the most difficult part isn’t it. Lovely post and thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond
LikeLiked by 1 person
Nadia this is exactly the point that I am at in my life and it can be a period of great discovery. We need to get to know ourselves again and deal with the loss of confidence that can affect many midlife ladies. I loved this very thought-provoking post, thanks so much for joining us at #TweensTeensBeyond
Nadia you speak for many of us I am sure who have parked their career to look after their children. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have regrets sometimes about that but when I look at my teens now and see how well they have done at school, how happy and grounded they are and most importantly for me – our bond, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am glad I have been around for them. Like you I started blogging and then pursuing writing projects to find a bit of myself again. It is work in progress but whilst I am enjoying it I will continue. Meantime I love having the time to pursue my passions and explore new interests. It is an interesting phase for sure but not an unwelcome one. Thanks for joining us again. It has been too long! #TweensTeensBeyond
it’s been almost 3 years since my last child left home and im still trying to find myself and discover my new identity, it is a difficult transition, i guess mine’s not helped by not working and living abroad also #tweenteensbeyond
Great post! and good insight of what’s coming up
That was a good piece and very true. Gotta go, have a lot of thinking to do .
Great post! I’m in the same parental boat as you, and I recently went back to work full time (first time in 15 years). It was a bit of a battle to get there, feeling way out of place and so much less experienced than my counterparts that stayed current with their careers all these years. But in the meantime, I started writing novels, and blogging. It has taken a while to get my confidence back to feel more like a “woman” instead “just a mom.” It’s still a work in progress. But I have to say that I’m loving that my kids bandage their own wounds, and get their own breakfast. Best of luck to you as you find your way 🙂
Definitely agree that you should never stop learning and asking questions! And 40s is definitely an elevated maturity level! I enjoyed this article 😀