Now that all my children are grown and there is no more summer vacation or back-to-school, I look back at those hectic days with a curious nostalgia. The school calendar created a rhythm of life in our house: school, vacation, holiday, school, vacation, holiday. Somehow, I always thought that when the kids went on vacation, then, I would get so much more done. No matter if it was business and work projects or homelife, cleaning, remodeling or crafting, somehow, right before the summer started for the kids, I always held the illusion that "Now I would get it done!"
It never happened. Whether I was directing or teaching over the summer or not; whether I was working Scottish Festivals or cooking in the commercial kitchen or not, that "To Do List" never got done. For women, the householder years of our lives go by in a flurry of activity. When we are building a career or starting a business, raising a family, caring for extended family or all of the above, the time flies by. The days can feel like years and the years can pass like days.
Before I knew it, the season of my life that included "summer vacation" was gone. That was when I heard the first clarion call for me to return to myself.
Unlike many midlife/menopausal women, I have not yet gone through the empty nest. A blessing and a curse, all three of my kids are living at home, at the moment. The oldest, post-law school and CA bar exam, just landed her first job and will be moving soon. The middle child is finally getting into a union training program and is excited to finally start a career, that has been long hoped for. The youngest is working and figuring out what seems interesting for a career.
I know I will miss them all dreadfully when they are gone and launched into their own lives. How will I deal with it? One day at a time. I'm sure I will suffer through with tears, hopes, regrets, happiness, and most likely not a small amount of loneliness, while I adjust to my new life circumstances. Once they are launched into the world, it is up to me to decide how I will live my next chapters, what I will do and where I will go.
There are stages of life that we will all pass through if we live long enough. Everyone's journey at this time of life is as different as we all are from one another. Yet, at the same time, we are as similar to one another as the shared experiences of living as long as we have. We all experience love, loss, heartbreak, joy, challenges, victories and defeats. We will all hit midlife and we will all go through menopause. We will be forced by our psyches and our bodies to face aging and change. The existential questions these changes bring in their wake will throw us off balance and force us to create a new center. This is how it was designed to happen. If you are like me, no one ever told me what to expect when getting older. It is an even more closely guarded secret than how hard it is to raise children. Did you ever hear the one that says that for your parents, their not stopping you from having kids was their revenge?
There is no choice in aging.
At this moment I am beached. I am in between my kids coming home and going again, or finally going. I am not done with school. I am building another business that will likely be my Opus. I am digging deep and working hard to recollect myself to myself for a rebirth. Wherever you are in your midlife and menopause journey you can do it too. We are each on our own path, but we are crossing the same, liminal, dark forest that every woman who has lived this long has crossed.
You have some mighty ancestors leading the way and you are not alone.
The summer of our lives is turning to Autumn. Shakespeare had it right when he said,
"Summer's lease hath all too short a date."