I remember as a little girl, I used to dream of finally growing boobs and being able to wear my mom’s bra’s, as well as the sparkly, strapless evening gowns at the department store. I used to sit and wait while she would try on clothes for a new outfit, burying myself inside the middle of the rack of opulent evening gowns.
I remember waiting and wishing for ‘womanhood’ to catch up with me, as all my friends seemed to be starting their periods before me. Mom told me the 1970’s version of female reproduction, and when my time finally came there was very little surprise.
Mom told me about child birth, about being a parent of a large family. How you never really run out of love. She taught me that with each new addition to my family love just multiplies. You never run out of love.
I learned from my mom the many stages of womanhood… Child, young girl, teen, young woman, new wife, new mother, mother of several, divorced woman, single motherhood, remarriage and the compromise of blending and building something new.
I learned from my mother to turn a blind eye to messy teenagers’ rooms, to tune out the pseudo intellectual stage of each of our young adults as they developed their own sense of their world before they flew my nest. I even learned from my mother the agony of letting a child fail so that they could later own their sense of success.
I learned to wear many hats from my mother, and to wear them well. My mom was that guidebook for each phase of womanhood.
But, what I did not learn or what my mother did not teach me… and perhaps it is because she had no one to teach her…. was what happens to us as women when our children and/or husbands no longer need or want us in their lives as they embark on their own journey.
When my mother was my age, 54, the world was so very, very different. Expectations and barriers were not the same as they are now. I remember looking at 55+ and seeing a world of people that seemed so much older than those that are 55+ today.
My mother never told me that I would have the opportunity for a whole second life on my own without the responsibilities associated with raising minor children. My mother never told me how physical intimacy with a partner that I care about could be more meaningful and fulfilling now than it ever was in my earlier life phases. My mother never told me how I would come to be so much stronger than I ever thought I could be. My mother never told me how my confidence would be so much more than it was when I was younger. My mother never told me that I would now become the absolute BEST version of the “me” yet!
But, she also did not tell me what to expect about menopause, hot flashes, night sweats. My mother did not tell me about that anxiety we feel when we realize our time is now our own, and that our children/husbands do not need us in the way they did when they were younger also.
My mother did not tell me about the Withdrawl Effects Of Motherhood. And, there was no way she could have prepared me for being Single & Female at 50. But, luckily in this brave new world, there are so many more options to me than there ever were to my mother when she was my age.
I just hope that during the ensuing years, that I can learn from my mother what I still can learn, as she enjoys rocking her robust, active 70’s.
There is an exhilarating sense of excitement and mystery at what the future holds. No longer am I am captive to the plague of fear and doubt at that unknown. I know unequivocally that this IS the very best permutation of myself. I see it in the reflection of the mirror, I see it in how I feel about myself and my body. I see it in how I establish and maintain relationships. I see it in the eyes of my adult children. I see it all around me. I am grateful for the abundance of joy in my life. I am grateful for all the people that are part of my life.
Yet, I know I am still a work in progress. What the future holds is still a mystery. I’ve learned to plan for the unexpected, to embrace a chance and enjoy the ride. I’ve learned from watching my mother that the best is yet to come!