Seriously, who the crap am I?
Transitions are tough. Even when the new state of being is positive. Even when the other side is wonderful. The change can be difficult.
I remember reading that transitions are especially dangerous mental health territory. Well, I already have mental health issues. And now I'm in the middle of several transitions. What a surprise I'm having a tough time.
My youngest child just graduated. I was so focused on all the pain-in-the-butt things that were going away that I didn't look much further ahead. And now I find myself on unsolid ground. Not sure of my footing. Staring at a bunch of building materials with no idea what I want to create.
My oldest will be twenty-six in a few months. For over twenty-six years (I'm including my pregnancy), my whole life has been focused on my kids. Their safety. Their happiness. How to help them be good people. That's a long time in one job.
My youngest will be eighteen in a little over a month. And as my kids have become adults over the last few years, my role has changed somewhat. They're in charge of, and in control of, more of their lives. They're responsible for their choices, whether they act responsibly or not. In a little over a month, I will not be legally responsible for anyone but myself.
And I'm having some trouble processing that.
The transition has happened slowly, in theory. One child at a time. A couple years in between each one. So why does this moment feel so shocking?
Because she's the last one.
I've been a stay-at-home mom for most of their lives. Significantly longer than I was single and childless. When I no longer have minor children at home, but still choose not to work, what am I?
And what do I want to be?
See, here's the thing. I have all the choices in the world. My husband has no desire for me to work, for both physical health and mental health reasons. Although he would support me if I chose to work. Because he supports me in pretty much anything I want to do.
And that's the key phrase. What I want to do. And I have no idea. What do I want to do?
My health is better than it's been in years, but it's still a day to day thing. There are still days I can't get out of bed. Still lots of fatigue and pain.
But there are other days. Days when I feel pretty good. Days when I feel powerful. Days when I believe I can conquer the world.
I'd love to be able to plan out my life. I'd love to live by schedule. I'd love to know how I want to spend my days. To write it all down and live by it. But with the freedom to set it aside if a friend needs me. And I'm just not sure how to balance that.
I yearn for structure. I've always been a planner. But when my health fell apart eleven years ago, I had to stop committing to things. I had to stop planning. Because it just felt so bad when I let others down, when I had to cancel at the last minute. When I couldn't do that one thing I'd so looked forward to and worked to make happen.
I'm scared to plan again. I'm not sure why. And I guess I've planned all along, just on a different level. I'm not sure why this feels so different.
Yes, I am. I don't want to waste. I don't want to use my time badly. I don't want to just pass through day after day. I don't want to look in my rearview mirror and see emptiness. Days of nothing.
Before now, even if I did nothing else all day, I still parented. I still did something productive, just by keeping people alive and on task in their lives. When that's not my job anymore, what value do I have? Especially if my days are spent just doing whatever I want.
I know I'll find my footing. I always do. And it will be great. And I will be happy. But right now I feel like I'm dancing on quicksand. In an earthquake. With a tornado approaching.
And I have to decide whether to hunker down or face the storm.