Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Something Is Not Right"

That line comes from my favorite children's book, Madeline. I always related to Madeline... and when you look at who producers chose to play her in the recent movie (left), I guess I (right) had good reason!

But it's true that something is not right.

I went into town around mid-morning to do some errands. Now that I'm not working, I can do that. Rush hour had ended and the lunch crowd wasn't out and about yet. As I browsed the aisles at Target I realized that I was surrounded by "me's" from 16 years ago -- moms with kids in carts, kids by their side, kids tightly clutching their promised book or toy. Only today, instead of being one of those moms, I was a distant observer of others' lives. People think I'm crazy when I tell them that my happiest years were the years that I spent as a stay-at-home mom to four kids under the age of six, but it's true. Nothing, no event or period of time, can come close to the happiness I felt when I was home full-time with kidlets. Every day was more work than I could ever have imagined before I had kids, but every day also brought great joy, loads of laughter and a world that was filled with absolute true love.

As I watched the moms with their kids at Target this morning, a profound sadness came over me and I could barely fight back the tears. The kids were happy and chattery, the moms (many of who seemed to know each other) were loving and engaged. No one seemed to be in a huge hurry, and there were no tantrums or melt-downs as one sees more often during the obvious post-work errand. I know it sounds like a classic case of impending empty nest syndrome (yes, I fear that!), but I became profoundly sad, realizing that I was very much the outsider looking in to a period of my life that is gone forever.

Maybe it hit so hard because I'm now unemployed and panicky. Last month I belonged in the working world, and 15 years ago I belonged in the non-working world. Where do I belong now?

Maybe it's the weather (which must mean I'm afflicted with S.A.D.?!) or maybe its a sign of mid-life, but I seem to be questioning all kinds of things right now. No, something -- something -- is not right. I often think about (fantacize about?) a "black hole of life." It's science fiction, but I have a deep yearning to "stop my world and get off" to explore the parts of life -- and love -- that I have no exposure to now. In my fantasy, I could slip into a different realm, have any experience I want for as long as I want -- and then, when I'm done, I'd slip right back into my life and the "black hole" would close back up. No one would have even noticed my absence -- but I would have had a chance to experience things I yearn for in this life -- travel, adventure, companionship, unconditional love and a deep connection.

OK, enough dreaming. Back to the work of finding work. :-/

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Betsy said...

it's not surprising that you're feeling a little "off" right now. Our identity is so wrapped up in our daily activities. We view ourselves as managers, mothers, bloggers, etc. When one of these things changes, (i.e. we leave our jobs) one's identity changes as well, and it takes a while to find an equilibrium again!

And as for the empty nest syndrome, I'm sure you'll have some tough moments, but don't forget that you probably have grandchildren to look forward to as well! As warm as you are and as much as you love children-- you're going to be a FABULOUS grandma! :-)

Hope you're feeling better soon!

Carol said...

Thanks Betsy! You're so right -- this is a matter of re-defining how I see myself... It is also prompting me to re-define my career goals and find focus there, so s'all good. Right?! :-/ As for grandmothering -- baby, you BET I'll be a good one! :-) Can't wait! (Oh wait -- yes, I can!)


c said...

Hi. I just read your last three posts and I think they're wonderful.

I've been feeling the same anxiety that you describe in 'Something Is Not Right!' It's a vague kind of grief over my son getting older. He's just 10 and still relatively so young but I LOVED the years that he's just growing out of and I'm feeling sad in an unspecific kind of way.

I'll be back to read more later...
Nice to have found your site.

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