From Motherhood to Otherhood

Embracing the ‘empty-nest’

Today is Mother’s Day, at least here. While some cynics argue that occasions like this are just innovative ways to sell more cards, flowers and boxes of chocolates I disagree; I think it is nice to designate days for recognizing the importance of certain relationships in our lives as it can become all too easy to take one another for granted. I received a card with an image of Moira Rose (Catherine O' Hara) from Schitt’s Creek. This made me smile as did the series. It also made me think about who I am and how that is sometimes defined in terms of my relationships with other people.

My children are now in college and so my mothering has almost become an honorary role as my daily involvement in organizing their lives is no longer necessary or appropriate. Does that make me less of a mother than the nappy-changing, lunch-making, homework-checking brigade? Or is my role now to be just as vigilant, on constant standby and high alert ready to respond to pleas for help when funds run dry or adulting gets too much? Off-stage and in the shadows, filling a supporting role? What would Moira Rose say about that?

Still without a manual, or a role-model on speed-dial, I am figuring life out as I live it and this stage is unusual because for me it represents opportunity but I hear talk of it referred to as something of a tragedy characterized by the ‘empty-nest’ and accompanied by feelings of loss and despair. This talk goes so far as to designate it a syndrome: ‘empty-nest syndrome’. Am I alone in not relating to this?

The fact is the kids are alright and that is all that matters; that they no longer need me in the same way only reassures me that they will be fine and that I did a good job. Now they need to get on with their own lives, take responsibility for themselves, and I certainly don’t intend holding them back or s-mothering them.

Children leave home and our lives must go on.

Children leave home and our lives must go on. With their departure some other things also leave our lives, things like laundry piles and floordrobes, taxi-runs and schedules, the raided fridge and the sink piled high with dirty dishes. No, still not feeling sad!

Being responsible for other people is time-consuming and takes a lot of energy and unconditional love and mothers do that every day and in so many ways. But once our children grow up and take responsibility for themselves shouldn’t we invest that time and energy and love in ourselves? Because we too are deserving and are so much more than the responsible adult. By questioning the roles we are assigned and how these speak to the stage of life we find ourselves in, as well as the expectations that are associated with those roles, maybe our relationships with our adult children can evolve and grow based on mutual love and respect as equals and friends.

We are other, yes mother, but other and should embrace the stage of life that follows motherhood for all the possibilities it affords. And it is for these reasons that I have moved happily from motherhood to otherhood and am enjoying this life stage with a renewed sense of purpose and self-worth.

Also let’s put the record straight, the nest is not empty, roomier yes, but not empty and the ‘bébés’ have excellent homing instincts.

A soul-searching, truth-seeking bibliophile who just happens to write. Living my life and looking at the beauty and chaos within and without.

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