I’ve been a full-time mom for the past 22 years. One of the most difficult, but rewarding jobs I’ve ever had, and I was a middle school teacher so that’s saying a lot.
Recently, I went back to work, and I feel like I’m starting all over again at the age of 53. To say I was intimidated the first few days is an understatement. But this is also a new chapter of my life that I’m eager to start. It’s funny how when you’re a mom you’re a little bit of everything – teacher, doctor, chef (that might be pushing it a bit), therapist, disciplinarian, housekeeper – but when it comes to doing one job outside of the home all of a sudden I feel incompetent. Oh self-esteem, you tricky little bugger. But I was also excited. After 22 years at home this felt like an adventure – a new chapter.
A new chapter. Those three little words have caused some mixed emotions. Fear. Grief. Excitement. Hope. It’s a strange mix, I know. And an exhausting one at that.
At home I feel the shift in a big way. My oldest is gone more often than not. He’s met a girl. That tugs at my heart because I remember a time not so long ago that I was his girl. I miss tucking him in at night. And yet I remember feeling the frustration of rocking him to sleep for over an hour only to have him wake as soon as I would lay him down. I’d love to feel that frustration just one more time.
Then there’s my baby – nearly 15 and becoming himself more each day. Becoming separate. Figuring out his place in the world. Struggling to make sense of things, as I struggle to let go. He was my shadow. Told me he loved me at least a hundred times a day. Was always underfoot. Now he spends most of his time in his room behind a closed door. I miss him so much and he’s right here in front of me. I remember what a difficult age 15 was for me. But I never knew it would be a difficult age for me again.
I miss my little boys. The ache runs deep. But I know they are here. I’m blessed that our foundation is strong. I know they will always find their way back to me.
But now is my time to figure out who I am on this other side of motherhood. The real adventure is deciding what I want to become now that I’m all grown up.