Today I visited my son’s new school (he’s starting high school next year), for the first time. As I picked out his new T.shirts and shorts in the uniform shop I thought, with a little tear in my eye; “My little boy’s moving on, stepping into a new stage of life”.
It’s natural isn’t it for a mother to grieve, just a little, the passing of her children’s childhoods? Just how much we grieve I think depends on how much we’ve retained or re-created, as it was in my case, our own sense of self amid the mothering role.
Because, let’s face it, being a mother, much like being a daughter, wife, sister, friend, or aunt is a role you fulfill as part of your life. It is not you with a capital Y. You are a mother yes, but you are first and foremost a person, yes, an individual human being who existed before her little bundles of joy and believe it or not, will continue to sparkle and dazzle the universe with her brilliance long after the said bundles have flown the nest.
We feel happy/sad when we wean them, when they begin school, lose their first tooth, experience their first major disappointment and then recover, miss out on a party invite or don’t get much of a game when playing their first team sport. Honestly, raising children can be exhausting and heart-breaking. It’s not for the faint-hearted.
I for one, took the ‘jump in feet-first, total immersion‘ approach to motherhood. For five years that’s who and what I was, their mother. Other roles like wife (my poor husband), daughter and sister took a definite back seat. When I came wandering, stumbling out of that period it felt like I’d returned from a long absence from my own life. I felt a bit like a time-traveller cast randomly into a foreign land at an unknown point in time. Well perhaps that’s a little dramatic, but not awfully so.
I was ‘mummy’ and that’s all I really identified with.
I’d lost who I used to be, and to be honest that wasn’t a bad thing because I hadn’t overly enjoyed being her. I just wasn’t sure who, apart from ‘mummy’, I was now. I wasn’t even the qualified psychologist I’d embodied just three years prior. Sure, I knew I had been her and could role-play that job again, it just didn’t feel like ‘me’ anymore.
So not being able to figure it out in my mind, I eventually followed my heart into some short courses in writing, art and natural therapies to flush out the real ‘me’. I knew she had to be in there somewhere…
And it worked. It’s taken many years, around seven in fact, but I now understand who I am at a deeper level and have work and other activities in my daily life that support and express that real me.
So when I witness the growing up and growing away-ness in my children, I don’t feel too sad because I have this rich and varied life that’s quite separate from them. I am ‘me’ independent of the mother role and it feels good.
To care is beautiful, to care too much is painful and stifling for those we love. Love yourself a little more and you’ll find you care just the right amount for everyone else with ease.
If you would like some assistance to discover your true path in your work or creative endeavours, take a look at this page: Contact Tricia for Your First Session and let me know when I can phone you for your free fifteen minute session.
Much love, Tricia