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.




8 Responses to “Aging out of Motherhood”

  1. Hillary Jaffe April 18, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    Still the cutest baby in America , and if you’re tired, I’ll stand in as mommy:)

  2. eleanore wells April 18, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    We need to spend some time together so I can show you how to broaden your reach. The stuff you’re writing is so on point with how so many women are feeling. This could be huuuuge


    Eleanore Wells

    (c) 917.558.4734 (o) 646.926.1656 (h) 212.243.4542

    Sent from my fancy iPad

  3. Adrianne April 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    Amen to all of that! You had the courage to write what every older mother is thinking and feeling. Girl if its not one thing to feel guilty about its 10…. Move on to line item two but don’t feel guilty to long because there’s other things on the list! What this means is your human. And with that I say have a seat and rest your nerves! Let the church say Amen!!!

  4. Lori Sher April 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    I so hear ya Benilde!! Almost 11 years between Gabby and my youngest. I’m pooped:) But hopefully wiser…

    And what’s the xbox equivalent for girls??

    • Benilde Little April 19, 2013 at 2:29 am #

      Funny…no Xbox for them (although I’m sure there are games girls like) but there is wine for us!

  5. Diane J. Harris April 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Benilde, I feel you, girl. I thank God I had my kids young (if you call 27 and 30 young). I remember being so pooped after my second child that I called the doctor and asked him to check me in to the hospital just so I could get some sleep. And I was young then! My son and his wife just had my first grandson in December and I am watching him as they both work their careers. It is such a wonderful blessing, but also a handful that would drain any middle aged woman. Hang in there. The rewards later really out weigh the exhaustion. Godspeed!

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