Wedding weekend is over. My son and his beautiful bride are off to their honeymoon. It’s a holiday so I have a day to get a massage and….do what? There is one less person for me to attempt to manage and a whole lot more time to consider what’s next for me?
That’s right, me. My coaching practice was built around women in their 50s who had a life upheaval and had to figure out how to get right-side up. Is it hard? Absolutely! Is it possible? Yes, if you are willing to do the work. Now I see younger people who are trying to get right-side up to. We all go through changes and the way out starts with two questions.
The first question is the most difficult: “What do you want?” The reason that question is so hard is because it’s usually buried under decades of others’ expectations and needs. The reason the work is so hard is because you must separate your stuff from someone else’s emotional hand-me-downs. Many of us would rather distract ourselves with busyness: we take on another project, another lost cause person, or some other thing that we are familiar with instead of facing the empty space designed for self-exploration.
The second question is: Who am I Now? After the job loss, the death of a spouse, the empty nest, or the marriage (or birth) of a child, you must find the answer to the second question to keep from getting stuck in a loop of regret. How did what you experienced change you? What is different, and what is the same about you? These are the questions I’m considering today.
Who am I, now that one of my adult children is married? I love the work of coaching more than anything I’ve done, EXCEPT the work of mothering. To have a life invested into your hands and watch that child grow from helplessness to total independence is a beautiful wonder. I watch my adult children and remember the determined look on my son’s face as he learned to skate. I still see my daughter’s courage after she had been hit in the face with a softball. Others see their greatness, but mothers remember their journeys.
I am still their mother, just not in the same way. I pray my life still has value and lessons they can glean from. I also hope I’m a lot of fun since discipline isn't my main job anymore. I have completed the “active phase” of parenting, so I get to develop new skills that will help me to fill the not-so-empty spaces in me. I think its time to clean out some physical and emotional closets to make room for what’s next.
Who am I Now? I’m still inherently valuable, uniquely designed by the Creator to impact the world. For the last two decades I’ve planted into the future by how I mothered. Now I get to open the gifts that have been set aside, especially for this time of my life. Discovering and unwrapping them is my next great adventure.
Michele Aikens is a certified life and leadership coach. Join one of her upcoming coaching groups beginning in September and October. For more information, click the Coaching and Resources tab.