I ran into my friend Jeanie at Home Depot the other day. She has a daughter and a son and a brand new granddaughter. I welcomed her into the grandmother world and we gushed over our babies. I used to laugh at people like me.
Just before we said good-bye she looked at me seriously and said, “OK, Suzette, now what?” “What do you mean,” I asked a little confused?
“The kids are grown and gone. All the preparation for the grandbaby coming is over. Everyone lives hours away. I suppose I’m trying to figure out what to do now,” she said looking a little concerned. “Why don’t you write about that?”
I had to think about her question for a while and here’s what I figured out … you are finally to a point in your life you actually get to choose. A mom spends 25 or so years, depending on the spacing of her kids, doing what needs to be done for everyone else. If she’s been a stay at home mom she can choose to volunteer, get a job, go back to school or do whatever it is she has put off doing to take care of her family. If she’s a career mom she can take up tennis or golf or join a book club or investment club or help with a charity she has a passion for. Her time away from the office now can be hers.
It is an odd spot to be in because for so many years everyone depends on you and now they’re off living their own lives. It really is a search for a new normal. I do know one thing for sure. We can put down the mommy guilt of not being at home enough if we were working outside the home or the mommy guilt of not having a job because we were stay at home moms. What a relief!
Because I was such an involved mom staying at home, working part time, working full time in different phases, I dreaded the thought of everyone being gone. It was like a deprogramming period for a while and the house was really quiet. But then I realized I get to make choices I hadn’t been able to make for years … like not going to McDonalds unless I want to.
It kills you to see them grow up. But I guess it would kill you quicker if they didn’t. ~Barbara Kingsolver