Tuesday, April 03, 2007

empty nesting

As our family begins to poise itself for the "empty nest" syndrome, I realize how much of myself I have invested into the full nest. I've worked outside the home off and on, but only as a means to supplement what goes on inside the home. I did study to become a dental technician, and I guess you could say that is my career, but I never used my skills to truly follow a career path. I went back to school to chase a dream, my art, but at the first and even now, did not use my skills to follow a career path there, either. All of my energies were pretty much directed at making and keeping a home. That's normal, biologically comfortable for most women and still our primary "job" while children are small, and certainly extends and expands as they grow in different ways.

I've lately been exposed to attitudes that differ greatly from mine, some negative, some positive. At the prison I've met mothers inside who, while I'm sure they have some feelings for their children, in reality don't invest into their children's lives. They live for themselves. Otherwise they would not be in prison. They are by and large drug peddlers, users and abusers, or some combination of all three. Some are alcoholic. I cannot relate to them easily. My children have always been my bottom line, the reason I have struggled to stay married, to find joy in the sacrifice they require, to come back to sanity when I want to walk out the front door and never return. I haven't felt that lately because I see the fruit of that sacrifice and I know I could never be happy making choices that would hurt them, or put them in danger. My mom died when I was a teen, so my older sister and I used to joke that there was no packing a suitcase and running home to mommy if things didn't work in our lives.

Another side of womanhood and motherhood I've seen lately is the career working woman. My husband and I are looking at getting into real estate as investment properties, and needed to form an LLC. We went to our long-time accountant and found out she does this on the side. As we talked I came to realize she has a knack for spotting deals and no shyness about making them and doing the necessary things to be successful. She's not hard, she has children, but she is tough. I don't feel tough at all. But I know I have to choose how I'm going to live when my children are no longer my main focus. I will have to make choices for myself. I'll need to use my talents the best way possible.

I'm so glad for the years I spent as a mother of pre-school and grade school children. My youngest will be a high school senior next year and is already thinking about college. I want to embrace the coming years equally well, and I know that will require the discipline and self-sacrifice I learned as a busy mom, but I will be applying those qualities in a different way. It seems odd to be thinking of myself, what do I want? I still think I want to prosper my family, and now I'll be freer to do that. The freedom just feels strange. I had an inmate write to me in response to my own worries regarding remaining accountable to my art ambitions. He scolded me qently, reminding me I have all the freedom he wished he did. This man has accomplished things in prison most people dream of doing their whole lives. I have to remember, anything is possible. My greatest need is to believe that is true.


Post a Comment

<< Home