Archive | April, 2013

Aging out of Motherhood

18 Apr

A few years back, I was setting up an appointment with a therapist for my husband and me. We’d hit that place where we needed someone to mediate our conversations. We weren’t doing it well on our own.

Over the phone the shrink had asked me some basic questions in preparation for our visit. One answer caused him to mumble a huh, as in oh my. He was responding to my age and the age of my son, my youngest child. At the time I was 50 and Ford was seven.

When it comes to human behavior, I don’t miss much, which was unfortunate for the doctor. I’d asked him why he’d responded the way he had. He had initially pretended that he hadn’t. When I pushed him, he came clean.

“Well, what I was thinking is that usually, at your age people don’t have young children. At this point one is done with raising children and it’s a time to focus on yourself.”

Biologically, he is right, but the biology hasn’t caught up with reality of our choices: many modern career women of my generation, who chose to marry and become mothers, did so later in life.  In large cities on either coast and in the big cities in between, seeing gray-haired mothers at  pre-school pick up, is a common sight.

And for the most part, we look good. How we feel? Well, that’s a different kettle of fish.

Two weeks ago my daughter got into her first choice college. Getting her there was an arduous task. Anyone who has been through it, I know I can get an Amen. I’m psychologically preparing for her to leave home. I know that I will miss her terribly,  but I also know it’s time for me to release her, to watch her to fly. I believe that I’ve shown her how.

The nest will not yet be empty, however. It won’t be for another six years.

My sweet, pookie boy is in 6th grade. He just started middle school. I often wonder where, how, I’ll have the stamina to  do for him what I, we, Cliff and I, did for our girl. She and I visited 12 schools together (she did three additional ones with her school and a friends’ parents); and visiting is only one part of the process.

It’s spring break and my intention was to take Ford on field trips into the city–the Ground Zero museum, MoMA for a video game exhibit, the African Burial ground museum and Central Park. Today–I’ve let him play on the Xbox all day. Do I feel guilty, yes. Would I have let my daughter do this when she was 12, absolutely not. We would’ve been on those field trips or on  a vacation during spring break.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m a big believer in doing nothing. I also believe it’s necessary for kids to have down time. My son’s school days are much longer than Baldwin’s were. I know he needs a break, but…

What the doctor said is true. I find myself more often than not, just wanting to rest, to read, watch TV, have drinks with my  girlfriends.

Ford spends a lot of time playing baseball and Cliff is his coach, so they get to spend plenty of time together. I go to most of the games; Cliff has missed one in three years and that’s only because work required him to go to a meeting four states away. He was texting me every few minutes: What position is Ford playing? Where is he in the hitting lineup? How’s he doing on second base? Is he playing center or right field (even though I was looking, I had no idea. I had to ask a Dad). What inning is it? What’s the score?

I was able to happily report the answers.

Iyanla Vanzant was just on a TV show saying that guilt is a useless emotion. I’m going to have to adopt this as my mantra as I complete my hands-on mothering laps.

I look at Ford, a truly lovely spirit, and have to believe he’ll be great even if I don’t have the vigor that I used to have. I did manage to sportcast his game to his Dad. Maybe I will be able to run the remaining laps.

And, when I need a break, there’s always the Xbox.





9 Apr

IMG_0719Today is my oldest, dear friend’s birthday. She is more like a sister and is a second mother to my kids, especially Baldwin. She is Baldwin’s godmother and today, before the day ends, I just wanted to say Happy Birthday Joni. You are the best person I know.

Sex and the suburbs

5 Apr

I recently had a conversation with a friend, who is the mother of a lovely and bright daughter–a college freshman. She recently met a boy on her campus.  He’s a sweet, ambitious, smart boy and he’s handsome. He likes her, she likes him. You get the picture.

The mother is over the moon about this budding relationship and has pretty much told every friend she has about it, including me. I found myself excited, almost as excited as the mother. I asked her all kinds of questions (as I tend to do when it comes to human behavior).

How’d they met? What was their first date? Has she brought him home yet? Where’s he from?

She happily provided the answers.

(In the library, a Starbucks, no, Maryland).

I’ve been checking in with the mom over the last several months eating up every detail about her daughter and the new guy, like a junkie, needing another hit, a high.

Things are still going along well. They are now figuring out summer plans, internship schedules that won’t keep them a part for too long. He might do Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. She doesn’t have anything yet.

Ah, the  longing. When you’re away from each other and feel as if you just can’t stand another minute and then there’s the tingling when you are finally together.

While I was walking Charlie the other day a thought came to me (as is my wont, especially considering that Charlie is too preoccupied sniffing and peeing to have any real conversation with me). I began to think about why I was so interested in my friend’s daughter’s budding relationship. I barely know her. I don’t know the guy at all, and then I realized: It’s not about them. It’s about me. It’s about being middle-aged, married for 21 years and living blase in the ‘burbs.

There is no romance in my life.

Now, my husband Cliff does do romantic things–he sends me flowers, buys me jewelry on Mother’s Day and my birthday. We try to go out on dates (of course there’s always some other commitment–baseball games, meetings, chauffering) but we do always have a big date on our anniversary. I appreciate all those things (and even more the little things–like a thoughtful note, his commitment and patience as he coaches our son’s baseball team, the way he was with my mother as she lay sick and dying). I love it all, but, romantic it is not.

I know some of you are reading this and thinking–what is she complaining about. I’m not complaining. I am talking about what happens to us as we age out of a certain phase of life. I am mourning that reality.

I bouced this idea off three friends: a 68-year-old divorced psychotherapist, a 55-year-old college professor and a 45-year-old stay at home mom. They all agreed.

The  therapist said that demise of romance is also about coming to terms with our mortality. I hadn’t quite thought of it that way. I do remember, however, thinking when I was young and having lots of dates and more than my share of boyfriends, that this was good experience for me to have so that when I became an old woman, I’d have lots of romantic memories. I would remember as I rocked on my porch.

Thing is, I didn’t, we didn’t, think about the decades between say 50 and 75, when you’re not old, old–when you’ve still got some joie de vivre (or you do in your mind and your girlfriends assure you that you do.)

What is there to do? Do you leave your lovely husband (who you couldn’t wait to be with when you were dating) and chase a romantic ideal? Most grown women would say no–but who’s to know.

For me, I’m still going to eat up details about my friend’s daughter’s relationship and I’m still gonna hang with my husband.