I open an old notebook and I am transported back twenty years. This is what I had written all those years ago:
“Here, I cross a river…I am standing on the threshold…a new life beckons me on. My youngest child just turned thirteen. Gone is the life of earth mother, baby tender, Brownie leader, room mother, a life filled with the sounds of childish laughter, sleepless nights, chicken pox and tenderness. My new life is transitional — there is still soul tending, character building and mothering to be done — but I am beginning to ponder the choices of my life yet to come.
There are so many possibilities — so many interests and joys awaiting me as I cross this river. I am like a teen again, wondering, “what will I be when I grow up?” Sometimes the various pieces of me are astonishing — these disparate yearnings, joys and abilities. I stood at the Garth Brooks concert, clapping and singing — loving the beat of the music which moves me to dance and feel wild and free. Earlier that same day I had been distributing fliers to neighbors in an attempt to thwart commercial development in our lovely old historic neighborhood — loving its quiet, respectable character. One piece of me is a like a teenaged boy who loves loud cars and speed. Another piece is the gentle, nurturing soul who will mother just about anything in its vicinity. There is a piece which loves the beauty and serenity of my flower garden, and the piece which loves to roll down the car window and blast rock music into the air, the piece that loves antique china, silver and linens, and the piece that couldn’t bear to miss the “Dukes of Hazzard” reunion with its “good ole boy” stories and handsome country boys. And, how can this person who watches over her elderly neighbors so tenderly, and lovingly babysits for a neighbor’s two-year-old every weekend, be such an angry tigress when someone wrongs a child?
Which paths will I follow when I have crossed this river — when my time is my own, my day-to-day mothering is over? The possibilities are endless — the choices are mine alone to make. Will I be selfless and choose paths which nurture humankind or will I choose to nurture my own unique interests and joys…or will I somehow blend all the pieces into a life that contains the love and richness I have known throughout my mothering years?”
As I read these heartfelt paragraphs today, I consider my life then, and through all the years hence. There has been sadness and loss, but there has also been happiness. One of my most cherished dreams never came true, but I have made peace with that. The choices I made were most often responsible and nurturing, but beneath this silver hair and textured skin there still beats the heart of a rebel. Growing older has given me an inner peace which is a blessing, but every once in a while that bit of rebel comes out, and I am so pleased that it has never disappeared. I call it joy.