September 7, 2016

You Can't Go Back: Week Three

When my children were in school, my nights and weekends were spent at cross country meets, band and choir performances, speech tournaments, and theater rehearsals. My free time was defined by how I could support the activities that my children were doing. I would step up anytime I was asked and felt it was my duty because as a stay-at-home mom, I realized how much more flexible my calendar was.

In addition to helping my children, these same activities became my social life and entertainment. I knew I'd see the same folks and we'd have the same stories to share. What I didn't realize was how much of my own identity was lost in the process. I was "so and so's Mom", and my clothing choices indicated as much, with my different booster shirts emblazoned with "MOM" on it. Many of us veteran moms still have to introduce ourselves by whose parent we are.

As they move onto new horizons, their identity is no longer tied to mine, at least in reference to my socializing. I helped out a friend of mine who still has children in school chaperone a recent band event. She was short a parent and offered to help out.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening, but found myself explaining to several puzzled people why I was there and that I didn't have anyone performing. I wasn't there with my ever-present camera or watching for anyone specific in the show. I just was enjoying the music. It was quite a different dynamic.

Later that week, out of habit, I picked up the local weekly newspaper and realized I didn't have to scan it for school lunch menus or school start times. I wasn't looking for any articles to save for the time capsule of my child's high school years.  I just read it for local news happenings and learned about other community events.

What I realized this third week is that even when I am doing the same things, there is a different lens for how I see it and what my involvement will be. It's a nice place to visit, but it's not somewhere to stay forever.

Think ahead and start to cultivate your own interests with a different group of friends. Find something that defines you independently. If you cannot find a group to join, start one. You'll be surprised how many other women you can find that share your passion and you'll feel much less rudderless.

book clubI started a book club in January this year, by soliciting friends on Facebook for interest. We rotate from house to house each month, taking turns selecting the book and making refreshments.

We're all in different stages of our lives, some of us have children, some of us do not. Some are working, some are retired, some are married, some are single. I've expanded my social circle one book and one strong woman at a time. The friendships are built around mutual respect for each other, not how involved we are able to be with our kid's lives.

I'm reminded that we have many titles and mom is only one of them. Go forward and thrive, because as the saying goes, you can't go back.


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