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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Authenticity and Reality

I may be the only one not having an identity crises, now that all of my children are in school. The question returns, again and again, "Wow, what are you going to do with all of your free time?" My children, my family, my friends, the homeschool group, the neighbors, the post man, all think I might just break down and have no idea what to do with my life. 

I thought I might be more attached to the persona of homeschooling mama, following that of nursing mama, and before that a dozen more "me's", but as you have probably perceived in your own life, roles change and mutate, they even disappear. As thoughts and definitions of who you are meant to be are stripped away, by choice, by circumstance, and the voices outside, but especially inside, are allowed to quiet down, it is possible to return to the essence, and there, nothing is missing.

It feels as if this stripping away is also the occasion for a rebuilding. My house has emptied out, my daytime hours have (only somewhat) emptied of their usual rhythm, but I have not hurried to refill them. Attention to the present moment and a chance for deep reflection are great gifts, and I am savoring them fully. 

Outwardly; the dog is happy that he no longer has to wait for his human brother to be up and ready in order to leave on his daily walk. The bus comes, we leave. It may also be easier for the court to schedule a French interpreter...as long as I did not promise to take someone to the clay studio on the only day we can still get there, or pick up someone else from P, Q or T. (Why do we only ever use X, Y, Z or A, B, C? After all, there are 26 letters in our alphabet. I suppose it's for that reason that everything has been "awesome" for the past 10 years, 20 years?)

If you'd rather not subject yourself to the description of my new, "free" life, feel free to skip the next paragraph. If you're looking for empathy with your own version of modern motherhood, you've got it, read on.

As any mother of five (or eight or one) very well knows, there simply isn't that much free time in a day, with or without school. The house still needs taking care of, laundry needs doing, meals need to be cooked, just faster, and the precious time you spend together is now scheduled by someone else. Not only are there doctor visits; lucky you, I shall spare you the details, voice and piano lessons, there is the unbelievable amount of hours OUTSIDE the school day that you and/or your child are now spending at school anyway. From waiting outside the football field for practice to finish, watching a football game, registration, orientation and unpack the dang backpack night (all before school even began), parent-teacher conferences (didn't we just see each other at orientation or registration or both?), choir concerts, plays, chaperoning events, parent meetings for organizing the events that need chaperoning, parent meetings for funding the events that need organizing and chaperoning, ice cream socials for two different schools, visiting student art galleries, volunteering to bring group meals to children during their show choir camp that goes from 3-9:30 pm, parent meetings to tell parents not to take their child to the ER if he gets hurt at football, just talk to the team medic/trainer, who can conveniently be found, out on the field, in the rain, during the hours that you might otherwise have had a chance to take your child to urgent care and have things straightened out two days earlier. Chances are, your offspring is incapacitated enough not to be able to walk out to the field, but that does not guarantee he will want to go see a real doctor because "coach said to wait and see the trainer, I'll just go see the trainer." Three sprained ankles (two kids) and one broken toe later, we have spent more hours seeing healthcare providers than there are stinky football jerseys to launder each week. (I know, I promised not to detail the doctor visits, but technically, in urgent care, one sees nurse practitioners, not doctors, and then physical therapists to fix it all). I have not even mentioned Boy Scouts; with meetings, canoeing practice, bike rides and camp-outs taking up now non-family weekends. Sorry, was I ranting? I know I am not alone.

I do not feel any less involved in my children's lives. I gave birth to and raised these munchkins. Although sometimes on my walk along the bike path, the echoes of my children, all in a line, marching through the tall grasses of the prairie and chanting, "Where will this road end? .....NEVER!" as they play hobbits and dwarves comes to haunt me, it is easy to remember that my life is sweeter because those moments were a part of it. When the voices fade, the day is still filled with the joy of the sun, the wind, the meadow and forest, and peace that comes from within.


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