I’m 40 but I’ve been a mom since I gave birth to my oldest when I was just 17. I then went on to help create and raise four wonderful kiddos. But it’s kind of weird lately. They are all in or near their teens are doing what they are supposed to do and growing up, which means a kind of growing away, something that is bittersweet. With this comes a freedom that is new to me and I’ve realized that in a very real sense, I don’t know myself very well. I’ve lived a fairly sheltered existence and am privileged in many ways. That being said I have weathered some pretty crappy times and managed to come out the other side wiser and stronger, but I’m not sure I can say I really know myself.
I mean, I know I like tuna sandwiches, coloring, watching sunsets and many other things that are far too numerous to list here. But while I know how I am in my world I’m not entirely sure anymore of who I am. When raising young children I was focused almost entirely on their upbringing. Although my kids would definitely say I’m not too much of a helicopter parent (I don’t grill them to death about where they’re going or what time they’ll be back) I gave myself almost entirely over to being a mom.
I rarely took time to myself until I went back to college and even that I did largely for their benefit. I wanted them to know that no goal was too big and dreams can almost always be realized if you have the patience for them to find you and the willingness to work for them. I truly wanted to inspire them to see that if I could realize my dream of a degree in my late 30s they could dream bigger dreams than I could ever have and to know they could achieve them, despite the odds.
Now, though, I am about to embark on a new journey of self-discovery. As I learn to say “Goodbye” to my babies as they slowly leave the nest I am also learning to say “Hello” to me. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’m also a bit apprehensive. But not enough to keep me from trying new things and learning new things about myself.
I want to know if I like skydiving. I want to read new books, go to new places, and try doing new things. I want to find out what I like, what I don’t like, and where all of that fits within my ongoing sense of self. I want to attempt to write something powerful and figure out how to be witty. I want to drink champagne in France, sangria in Italy, and vodka in someplace that has awesome liquor options. I know a few dozen places in the world I’d like to travel but mostly I’d love to be a change-the-world-kickass-grant-writing-bellydancing-informed-educated-activist-liberal-gypsy kind of person.
I want to change the world. To make a difference in the space that surrounds us all. I want to inspire others and be someone my children are proud to call “Mom” and I want to be so much more. I want to be the crazy aunt (something I already embody – at least the crazy bit – lol) and wear purple hair well into my retirement.
Along my journey I’m learning it takes grace to say goodbye and farewell to those whose paths no longer walk alongside my own and having a bit of bravery to create room for new experiences, friends, and activities. I have realized that I need to be gentle (but persistent) with myself in order for me to do the necessary work of finding Holly under the layers of life that have grown around her as time has passed.
To sum it up, I’m looking forward to meeting myself, one tiny little step at a time.