I look at how happily married I am, and I believe it's because I was single for so long first (finally married at 38), and I therefore got the full single experience out of my system. I look at how happily parenting my new-mom friends are, and I believe it's because they were childless for so long first, and they therefore got the full childless experience out of their systems.
However, I started parenting young -- solo-parenting a child with autism -- and I am still busy parenting, and I feel somehow cheated out of the life-phase of childlessness. I finished school and less than 18 months later I was expecting a baby. I never got my "ya-ya's" out; never got that "me" time all young adults crave.
Perhaps, developmentally, I am stuck at Erikson's "identity versus role confusion" stage. When it comes to my identity, I certainly feel confused! Well, of course, I am 40, and I have in many ways progressed in my spiritual and emotional evolution. I always put my kids' needs first. I don't drink or get high (anymore), I'm in bed by 10 (p.m.), I attend parent-teacher meetings and help with homework, etc. etc. I'm a mom. That part of my identity is clear.
But part of me never got to finish growing up. Part of me wants to experiment and explore and finish figuring out who I am. I know I'm a mother; I fully accept and cherish that role. But, what else am I? Who else am I? I never got a chance to answer those questions, because I was too busy changing diapers and arranging play dates.
My children are growing up and will someday move on. Meanwhile, any jobs I have held besides mother-in-chief have been the kind that let me put my kids first -- in other words, low-paying and part-time, with no hope for advancement. In other words, my resume is a tangled mess of underemployment and unemployment -- a bridge to nowhere. I hope it's not too late to finally blossom into my fully realized adult self.
I realize my timing's a bit lousy, this being the world's worst economic recession and all. Still, I need some time to learn about and develop my individual identity, so I can better contribute to the larger society.
That means completing my education -- graduate or professional school -- and experimenting with roles and occupations -- am I an artist? a counselor? a mediator? a yoga-communitarian? What are my true priorities? Assuming parenting tops the list, what else is most important to me?
With my kids born 10 years apart, I've been home playing Lego's far too much, for far too long. My mid-life crisis feels like a deep desire to step out and define myself in the world. I will keep one foot firmly grounded at home on "mother" earth, as I step boldly into the unknown to "find myself." Despite being a responsible, middle-aged, mother-of-three, I am eager, and ready, to finally grow up.
We all need to do what we need to do. Listen to your inner voice. Follow your excitement. We are not just doing or being; we are continually becoming. Allow your blossoming to unfold. Blessings to all....