Sometimes I think that life has no middle. It doesn’t flow smoothly forward like a river, with a beginning and an end. For me, life jumps.
The other day I was at a staff meeting at school. As usual, I brought some papers to correct, grabbed some snacks, and got ready to listen to the conversation. As each topic came up, I listened to my colleagues and then raised my hand to add my two cents. At some point in the discussion, I looked around the room and realized, to my dismay, that I was one of the people speaking up on every issue. I realized that I had started two of my comments with, “Years ago we used to…..” I believe I even said, “Back in the day…..”
I quickly dropped my hand to my lap and closed my mouth. “Good Lord”, I thought, “I’m one of those old timers who can’t let go of the way things used to be.” You see, I remember those people; I have sat in hundreds of staff meetings with them! They were the wise women of the village; the ones who held our schools’ history in their hands, the ones who remembered the evolution of every policy and procedure. We looked to them for affirmation and acceptance, but we rolled our eyes at their quaint ideas. “We” were the young, energetic, up to date teachers around the table. I remember being new, and young. And now I am old and settled. I don’t remember the middle!
The same is true, so painfully true, of my mothering. I knew when I was a young, vibrant Mommy, caught up in the joy and pain of raising my little ones. I embraced that role, I loved it, I inhaled it and breathed it out again. When I walked in the park, pushing a stroller, I saw other young Mommies. At the store, we smiled at each other and cooed at each others’ babies. At school concerts, basketball games, plays, conferences and end of year parties we compared notes, swapped gossip and shared ideas. We were a community of young adults, doing the greatest job in life.
Now I find myself on the outside of those conversations as I sit at restaurant tables with other teachers and family members. I realized from the looks on their faces that my history of mothering is irrelevant. I’m out of the circle, at the tail end of my time as Mom.
And I swear to you, I didn’t really feel this metamorphosis as it happened. I don’t remember gently easing along from “young mom” to “old”. I just don’t remember the middle.