Im a “Tween” again.

I’m a “Tween” again

By the age of 42 I had imagined I’d be established enough as to understand my general role in society as a woman, and as a mother. Surely by this age, though ONLY 42, I would be recognised as someone with motherly experience? With some sort of wisdom I could impart on other younger mothers. Above all, I’d hopefully FIT IN.

 

Instead, I find myself at 42 to be a bit of an odd ball. I am not up to date on the gizmo’s and gadgets that the new mothers around me are discussing on social media posts. I am no longer privy to the “in” books and services, as everything they seem to need is now online and via blog, and let’s face it, I haven’t READ any newborn advice and help blogs. There WERE no blogs during my newborn phase! Those mothers can’t turn to me for that. All of my well-meaning advice is dated. Regardless of the fact I have SURVIVED 22 years of parenting!

On the other end of it, I am not quite old enough to dole out grandmotherly type advice or pass adages to my own daughters because I haven’t lived through THAT much yet! I am ONLY 42.

I remember what it was like to be a “tween”. Not a child anymore, but not quite a teen either. It is a hard and confusing time when you just feel lost and stuck. And I am back at that same stage in motherhood. The in-between stage…Not yet old enough to be that wise grandmother, but not that new fresh mother trying to figure everything out. It all seems so AWKWARD…. So unsure. So in need of a mother’s advice, had I had one.

In this stage though, I see just how segregated we as mothers keep one another. We create cliques, whether knowingly or not. A sense of divisiveness does exist. I feel like I did when I was picked last at PE. That happened due to an obvious lack of experience in ANY sport at the time, and my very petite stature all through high school. I wasn’t going to survive PE roughhousing without tears, and classmates  just knew it.

However, I KNOW I have not only survived two decades worth of mothering, I have often THRIVED at it, though in full disclosure, I have also really totally and completely stunk at it. That’s ok, because it is a learning curve. Parenting will always be, as each stage changes.

One big dramatic change for me over the past two years, was learning a new way to parent through the holidays. Halloween, especially. I love the Autumn traditions, everything from crisp walks, to pumpkin spiced anything, and decorating! I loved seeing the fun costumes come out and talk to my girls about what they would dress up as! Two years ago, I had my first Halloween without a trick or treater. I admit, I was devastated. I felt like a chapter in my role as a mother was now over. I wouldn’t experience that again. I wasted that day being miserable. Last year, determined to make up for the previous year of pouting, I dressed up, as I do, and sat at the end of my driveway, armed with the tastiest mini-chocolate bars, and expectantly scanned the street for ghouls and goblins, and the never ending trail of Disney princesses. None came. NONE.

I even decided to get up and yell at the child at the end of my street (I am in the middle!), and screamed, much to the chagrin of my “hostage” 22 yr old, who I had made sit with me. “Hey kid! I have candy! Come and get it!”. I sounded like a crazy lady! It really isn’t accepted in society to yell at children to come eat your sweets. Lesson learned. NEXT year, we will be in a new home, and I hear the neighbourhood is packed. So I will be the fun decorated house, with good treats and creepy music playing for ambience! I am beyond determined to re-love this day. To start new.

Something I would like to see an end to though, is those cliques I mentioned. We deny there ARE any, but they exist. I’d like to see parents respect, admire and ACKNOWLEDGE that others have mothered before us, will be mother’s after us, and we should embrace the similarities that we as women share, with grace and kind listening ears, even when we disagree with another’s approach.

I think a good way to bridge this gap is to simply spend time with mothers and women who are NOT  just like us. Whatever is different from our daily norm. I can learn from someone different, and they can learn from me. I found, by being around older AND younger women, that we are more alike than opposite. For example, the exclusion I have felt from not being invited to my friend’s child’s birthday party, because I didn’t have a toddler. She invited an assortment of what seemed like only acquaintances, and women who she met only once or twice, instead of me. I immediately felt not only excluded, but that somehow I had committed some offence. It was only after taking a breath and asking why I wasn’t invited that she confessed that she wasn’t sure if I, with older children, would even WANT to go. Of course I would have! I cared about our friendship, AND I loved that child! Another time, I myself didn’t extend a hand of friendship to a woman. Her children were younger than mine, which did not bother me as I love to talk to new people, however we differ in life. My hold up? She was beautiful. Like, GORGEOUS. Immediately, that terrified me. I am not sure why. I am usually not intimidated by the way a woman looks. She just seemed so perfect, so put together, and in a way, I convinced myself she was too  good for me. I didn’t have time to dwell on it, because she approached ME in this situation. She had worried that no one was speaking to her because they found out she was getting divorced, and wouldn’t be part of the military community we were all involved with at the time. I couldn’t believe I’d been so quick to make someone else feel so isolated! Especially since, I too was about to be divorced.  I think a lot of the breaking off into sub groups of mothers, is due to a breakdown in communication amongst us all.

I somewhat see a cyclical pattern in parenting, just like in fashion, where what is on trend one season, changes and goes away the next. Only to come back a decade later and be the new cool yet retro “in” thing.

So I am trying whole-heartedly not to judge other mothers, especially those so different from myself, at our respective stages in life and motherhood. I think we are all maybe a little guilty of this? It becomes easier for me to justify this internal judging I do, when I feel criticised in some way as a mother. I immediately jump on the defensive and find something to tear another down about (all in my head, and never towards someone specifically), so that we are on some even playing field in a game neither of us know we are playing. I may currently be considered to be like platforms shoes, flared jeans and fringe, not so on trend and a little out of place, but I assure you. Just like these jeans do, and just like my other in-between mum’s, we will get through this phase, and be hip, retro, and relevant again.

Halloween 2004

Making Mother’s Day memories, without a Mother

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Lauren (22) and Caitlin (15), my blondes

 

It’s hard to miss the ominous presence of the love and celebratory preparations for Mother’s Day, if, like any other person, you have gone into a store or mall recently. Everywhere I look, there are flowers in pretty bouquets, banners welcoming shoppers eager to spoil their mother, and special menus popping up in all of my favourite restaurants. May 14th in the US will see yet another Mothers Day pass by, where I do not have my mother to treat, take out, or visit.

Mothers do not have to have passed on, like my own has, in order to be absent from your life. Sadly, there are many stories going untold, that leave women hurting everywhere. Emotions are usually far from happy and joyous on this day for many of us, and for me, it took a long time to learn how to live through a day that so many are enjoying, while I felt lonely and isolated.

I am a mother myself now, but being a mother, and being MOTHERED are two very different things. I also had a stepmother for a beautifully brief period of time, but that too, doesn’t replace the void I feel.

I learned to live through this day and find ways to still make it beautiful, and to honour my mum, so that I wasn’t sad and weepy, or jealous, like I was many times during school when I was a child. The obligatory craft making that ensued in the run-up to this day, often left me feeling miserable.  I couldn’t fill in the blanks on the teacher made cards with what colour she liked, what made her happy, and what I loved most. To me, those precious memories were in my heart, and with her gone, they simply didn’t translate onto paper and glue daffodils with the ease my classmates displayed.

I remember a beloved art teacher telling me once to make my gift for someone else. My grandmother was often the recipient of endless “motherless day” crafts I made. As an adult, now that she, too, has passed on, I am looking at mothers day in other ways to avoid the grief and pain that always slips into my current pleasant life, every time this day approaches. I’m sharing some of these things here.

  1. Place a photograph of your mother/motherly figure, somewhere in the open, and light a favourite candle. Reminisce with those around you, and share a special story, or talk openly about what you miss. I often find that sharing positive feelings and stories helps keep my mum near, and lets my husband and daughters get to know her.
  2. Buy some flowers from the array of beautiful displays for sale. Then either keep them or give them to a special woman in your life. I don’t need a special day to have something beautiful in my home, to enjoy, and to love. Also, there are many women I know that can be made to smile in presenting THEM with something special too. I know many ladies feeling lonely, or who are childless, and I love to bring a little light to someone else. I think my mother would have loved this.
  3. Enjoy being treated nicely by those in your life who love you! Whether that’s a husband or partner, children, nieces and nephews or siblings. Allow people to treat you and do nice things for you, because you are so special to them! Again, there is a diffference to being mothered, and being one, but Ive definitly loved my early morning mothers day raps, homemade “lovebots’, funny made by hand cards, and many days worth of burnt toast and ketchup sandwiches in bed ( a long story!), that my children “treat” me to.
  4. Turn the day into a new celebration! Invite friends over, or family members, and people who are spending the day alone, or not celebrating others. Make it about love and friendship, and a gathering. It doesn’t have to be limited to mothers. This way, you are bringing together a little tribe of people, and starting new traditions.
  5. Music always ignites emotions, so load up a playlist on your device or phone, and get into your car and drive. Cry, laugh, grieve, miss her, remember her, and spend time alone (with her). It is ABSOLUTELY ok to NOT BE OK. It IS hard, and setting aside some time to privately mourn and think about things you wanted to say, seasons she has missed, or joys she didn’t get to encounter, is understandable and normal.  You are not alone in doing this.
  6. Start a small collection. I used to think of my mother when I saw a lighthouse. On her birthday and mothers day I would seek out little ornaments or memorabilia, and buy them as a “gift”. This way she was around me all the time, and I always had the intention of sharing these with my children one day. Or, make a donation as a gift, each year, to a charity she liked, or one that would be a cause in her memory. I even want to buy a star, and name it Elizabeth, after my mother, a perhaps silly to some, but positive way, to have her in my “universe” again.
  7. Lastly, don’t be alone the entire day. Do something that will bring you happiness. See a film with an available friend, go to the beach, enjoy a show. Do something that will surround you with laughter and fun, excitement and life. I have done this many times when I feel lonely. It truly helped remind me that I am still here, and still meant to truly live my life!