I told my son that the time to start drinking heavily and partying is not when you are in your 20’s, but during mid-life. What? Yeah, drink then because it is then that you have some real stuff to drink about. Okay mom, get back to me when you are back to yourself.
He is right. I am not myself. I am dazed and confused. Did I really just raise you and now that’s over. Am I really on the verge of mid-life, do I really have grey hair, my parents are aging, my old school friends are starting to look older (because I’m not, right?), and in six months our last child will graduate high school. What happened?
What do we have now? A big house we don’t need, jobs we no longer want, living in a location that was great for raising kids, but void of what we want when they are gone. We have regret, joy, anticipation, sadness, depression, anxiety, concern, love, and anger. We feel a plethora of emotions we don’t understand and are looking at everything in our life and questioning it? Why did we do that, how did we get here, and is this where we want to be?
Our kids are asking the same questions. Aren’t they? They are trying to find their identity apart from us. They are trying to figure out education, careers, friends, and a lifestyle. Why did our parents do that, how did they get here, and is this where I want to be? They seek to answer those questions and as they do their lives are molded and change. They are trying to wade through their 20’s and start to define everything that will become a part of who they are in their adult life.
In the mean time mom and dad are trying to become a couple again and reassess. The process is painful. We let them go and watch as they try to figure things out. We get texts, calls, and messages with updates. This is where I am moving, this is where I want to live, this is where I hope to work. We wait to find out where they will land knowing that it could all suddenly change.
But what about us? We aren’t the young man and woman that we were when we met. Our youthful naivety is gone. We are weighted, responsible, and mature. We look at their quick and adventurous decisions with concern, but deep down we envy them. They can just pick up and go. Try new things. We have 28 years of life to navigate. We are tired and worn. Will we ever regain our youthful composure and light heartedness. How did we get here?
Why didn’t someone warn us? Warn us that a crisis was on the horizon. Warn us that the big house was too big and came with a big mortgage we might not want someday. Warn us that as our children went out into the world we might want to as well and to prepare for it. To warn us that if we made it too much about them it would be hard to let go. That a big void would be left and we would have to fill it.
Why didn’t someone warn us that this would be hard. To raise children preparing them to leave and preparing us for when they did. To spend as much time developing us as we did them. To dream dreams, set goals, and make plans that were inherent in the man and woman that we are. Why didn’t someone tell me to maintain a broader vision? For the day when they leave and we are left to figure it all out again.
Isn’t it ironic that while our young adult children are out there answering the big questions we are too. They are answering questions to begin their own life and we are answering questions to ensure we finish off ours. For isn’t that what mid-life is about. Assessing where you are and where you want to be for the last half.
And so today we wade through. Making preparations to down size, continuing to try to define our relationship during a difficult transition, and answer all the questions. Perhaps the only difference between what they are going through and what we are going through is the awareness of what is to come. Youth is kind. It provides the required naivety needed to navigate that time of life. We, well perhaps we are naive as well. Perhaps we can’t see that this temporary transition is leading to something great. Something that will make this the best times of our lives. Until then…..we will keep wading through like they are and one day we will both come up with some answers.