“Too much Selfless leaves you, well, Self Less…. Less Yourself…”
I said this to a friend recently. We have been chatting and trying to figure out this Mid Life thing. Both of us, with three kids and a husband, searching for where we might have lost ourselves along this path of life. Constantly making sure everyone is taken care of, the house clean, the laundry done, kids at every activity and being cheerleaders for everyone, we forgot to cheer for ourselves. Now that our kids are almost grown, we are struggling as the identity we thought defined us, is walking out the door to make their own lives.
We are longing for that wild that has been suppressed, folded and put neatly in the closet, for that “just in case” time. But now that wild feels molded, tarnished and out of date. Have we grown too old to live fully once again? Have we squashed our passions for responsibilities?
(Oh, please know, that each of our precious children are beyond anything that we could have ever wished for, hoped for and worked for! There is not one moment we would trade for all that our kids have given us, taught us and filled us!)
It is just, what now? Who am I? Where do I belong? What defines me as a woman? How is my marriage defined, now that our kids do not need us as much anymore? Do we even know our husbands?
We have selflessly given, not only to our families, but to the schools, charities, neighbors, our homes, and careers. Setting aside our needs, wants and desires to meet everyone else where they are/were, and never asking anyone to meet us where we are. Or maybe asking, and being met with resistance, we, once again, moved toward them.
We traded our romance novels for story books. We traded our manicures for digging in the sand and building sandcastles. We traded our pressed work clothes for yoga pants and pony tails and days at the park. What amazing days we had at the park! We traded board rooms and meetings for giggles and sticky hands. What a gift to hold a sweet, little, sticky hand…
Now, we hand them the keys to our cars and pray over them to return home safely, closing the door and shedding a few tears as they drive away.
Now, alone in the house, it is quiet, peaceful, for just a few minutes. Maybe too quiet. We look at our hands, as the lines have started to form and we notice, they are not as agile as they used to be, nor soft, nor useful. We pour a glass of wine and stare out the window. We wonder, “Now what?”
It starts to seep in that we are not needed as much as we once were, not even to drive them to a friend’s house to hang out. The heaviness of midlife settles beside us in the chair and reaches its cold, bony fingers toward our wrists. Those fingers want to grab us and bind us, pulling us into nothingness and despair. Oh but we have made a plan to resist those hands.
We have realized that we have been less ourselves, and we are ready to dive into our essences and revive those silly girls who thought they had life figured out at 23. Now at 50, we are questioning that life is ever figured out and that we must question everything. We have vowed to share this with our children too. We tell them, go, live, be wild, have fun, because there is no reason to grow up so very fast. Of course, we want them to be responsible, but we want to them to breathe in that youth, the curiosity of it all and ask those hard questions! We have decided that we are! We are going to live, travel, take pictures, dance naked in the moonlight, if that is what stirs us! We will live, laugh, love and leap from tall buildings after we watch the sunset from way up top, with our evening cocktail.
Midlife is just another box to check, but it is not a defining downward spiral. We are not Self Less, we are now Self Fulfilling!