“All the world’s a stage” And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances; ·And one man in his time plays many parts.” (Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII)
I had to memorize that soliloquy in 9th grade but never knew how relevant it would be as the years tick on. No matter how many hats we wear at each stage of life; child, granddaughter, sister, friend, wife, teacher, entrepreneur….for almost half my life, over 3 decades, motherhood has dominated all roles on the playbill. So, one would think we moms should be well practiced, and we should know what to expect. Nope, we are all still learning.
Motherhood has its own stages: infancy, early development, growth and independence, and definitely the maturity stage aka the wisest stage. Each of these stages asks something new from us, as our kids grow ,and generally something we’re unprepared for. It asks us to change when we may not be ready. It is inherently a role that’s at odds with itself because motherhood asks us to lean in and let go at the same time. It’s a role that comes with a mixed message directive. To let go in the midst of deep connection. Duh? Wasn’t it obvious with the first snip of the umbilical chord?
I have not met a mom who hasn’t dealt with the snip, the feeling of loss of empty nesting, it’s a thing…. A heart wrenching thing for many. Usually we describe empty nesting as the time when our kids leave for college. But, there’s way more empty nesting beyond that. Snip…the kids move far away for work. Snip … the kids marry and/or build their independent lives Of course we are happy for them but, we miss them.
For the first 2 plus decades of motherhood our days are filled with being fully engaged in giving and helping our children. But, then we must stop. The kids grow and we are not needed as much, even though we still may want to be. We have to step back and wait and only offer to help when asked.
Motherhood demands, at every stage, when we’re most attached, to be ready to detach. It is a role that demands us to let go. To let go so our children can flourish, let go so they can find their way. To let go so they can build their own lives.
But with all that letting go, we are still forever connected. And that’s the joy that can never be taken away. Once a Mom, always a mom.. Motherhood is dynamic and ever changing. It’s perfectly imperfect and there is nothing better.