Friday, July 10, 2009

Identity Crisis

It occurred to me the other day, while I was shampooing my hair, that when my youngest son graduates from high school I will only be 43 years old.

Forty. Three. I started to panic. Forty-three is so young, and my children are my life. What am I going to do with myself when they no longer need me? I’ll have most of my life left to live and the most important thing I will ever do, raising children, will be over!

Then I started to hyperventilate. Have I really let my entire identity become so intertwined with my children that I no longer know who I am? Am I really panicking about something that will happen 17 years from now?

And this is where the motherhood conundrum gets messy. I love my kids so very, very much that I WANT them to be my world. My everything. But I also want to have my own identity. But I feel guilty about having an identity separate from my family. But I know I should have my own identity. But how could I do that, when they are my identity. But…you get the idea.

When I look at Liam, so often my mind pops right back to the very moment he was born. The tiny ball of baby placed on my chest, the collective gasp in the room when he let out his first cry. But here I am, 3 lightening-quick years later, and he’s not even close to that little baby anymore. I love 3-year-old Liam, but I’m STILL wondering whatever happened to my baby?

The other day I stared hard at Quinlan, cruising along the couch with those cubby little legs. He's beginning to say words! Actual english language words! He's feeding himself, seeking independence, rapidly moving toward his first birthday. All I can think is, Wait a minute! Wasn’t he just born, like, last month? I cannot fathom how almost a year has already gone by.

And before I know it, I’ll be 43. Setting up the cake and decorations for my youngest child’s high school graduation, and wondering, now what?

It's important to me that my kids see that I have my own life, my own identity apart from them. I want them to form their own opinions, seek their own passions, have their own unique and glorious identities. But I just can't shake this gut-wretching, heart-dropping feeling that when my job is no longer raising my children, I will no longer know what on earth my job is.

Forty. Three. Oh my god, what will I do?


Erica Knight said...

I am glad I am not the only one who does this, Amanda! Whenever I think of Maddie leaving the house, I always think of my mom and how SHE coped when I left the house.

Our conversation went like this:
Me: "So Mom, are you sad I'm gone?"

Mom: "Eh not really... I went for a bike ride yesterday and in the middle of my bike ride, I realized that I didn't have to come home and make dinner for anyone!"

Hopefully I will be just as easy going as my mom! (I probably drove her to insanity long before I left the house, anyway).

- Erica

Kate said...

I think that your kids will always need you. I just turned 27 and I still very much need my mom!