It’s been awhile. The last time I wrote was last May as my son was leaving the house to finish his senior year of High School. A pretty big day at our house and any parent’s. It took me a few months to get my grounding after that day. Going from 18 continuous years of round the clock parenting to a sudden and immediate “layoff” is quite a jolt and I was terrified I might never regain a sense of purpose. So I found a volunteer gig and a new mantra, something like, “Guide Me,” grounding words I would repeat throughout the day every time I felt a new wave of panic rising.
Where to begin? When you have poured your heart and soul into two human beings who are ready to launch into the world and the thought of moving forward terrifies you, how do you start? Fortunately, I have had really good experiences volunteering in the past and it is something I am comfortable doing and my husband was supportive of me doing instead of looking for a paying job right away. So I had a wonderful summer helping a local rehabilitative organization as a volunteer at a summer camp for developmentally challenged adolescents build executive functioning skills. Ability KC is one of my favorite places because they support individuals and families of all ages and abilities to recover from debilitating injuries or conditions and regain strength and resilience. As a person in recovery from alcohol addiction, building resilience is something I feel very passionate about. So I started taking steps forward in my life and trusted God and the Universe to “Guide Me.”
Summer went by quickly and I built connections with the darling camp kids. I learned massive amounts from the 20- and 30- something physical and occupational therapists running the camp. I found that, as always, I had been planted in exactly the right place at the right time with the right people working for the right purpose. Continuing with this trust and purpose, somehow I gradually awakened to the next opportunity in my “Life After Mom” journey. I knew I wanted to work with kids on the brink of young adulthood who needed extra support. So I began applying for jobs with local school districts as a Special Education Paraprofessional. What luck and joy I had when a local middle school contacted me for an interview in early August. I am now employed there and part of another team of inspiring individuals I am learning so much from. And I have the privilege to connect with young people on a daily basis, meeting them where they are and trying my best to support and help them learn. I am beyond grateful to have this new purpose in my life.
Recently, when strolling the bathroom aisle at Kohl’s, I realized I hadn’t given myself the luxury of a really thirsty and plush bath towel in many years. So I bought 2 cream colored ones, something a Mom knows never to do with kids around because they’d be destroyed in days. Another thing about the plush towels: I just want them for myself but I haven’t explicitly communicated this to my husband. Occasionally, in his morning haze and rush to work, he grabs one and I find myself feeling territorial and angry – about a towel! Here’s my takeaway from the hidden meaning behind a newly liberated Mom and her plush towel anger issues: it’s a small luxury just for me that I am not expected to share with anyone. Ready to laugh out loud? After 21 years of nurturing my family, I just want to be asked if they can use my plush towel! I feel ridiculous about all the power I have given these towels in my psychological life and my family doesn’t even know it!
Moving forward in life after full-time parenting requires a sense of humor. I appreciate the sense of belonging and acceptance I have at the middle school where I am working. It’s building my skills, resilience and confidence. No matter what age, we all need each other to build strength. And plush towels. We all need at least one just for ourselves.
Happy Holidays, friends, and may 2020 bring you an abundance of joy, new adventures and plush towels.