Talking to my buddy about this, she, very wisely, inferred that my current emotional turmoil could be boiled down to mid-life crisis. She and I are similar, in that we are very young, society-wise, and yet, we are both facing a mid-life crisis of sorts. We both married and had kids in our 20's. We started early, and therefore, mid-life has come earlier, eh?
I find myself wondering if I'm still attractive. Pretty, even. I have gray hair that I color, zits that I hate, and wrinkles that come out of no-where. My body has been through child-birth war --the sagging, stretch-marked skin feels so... old. Old. My feet are horrendous, my spider veins unsightly. The genetically-given bags under my eyes seem to grow with age. My children ask me about the blue veins in my hands.
I don't mind getting old. Honestly. I don't. It's something we all have to do. I don't regret --for even one second --that I used my body to give life, even if that meant sacrificing my youthful beauty.
But am I still beautiful? (This is rhetorical. Please don't answer any questions until the end of the session. Thank you.) If I had to --if Brandon unexpectedly died and left me alone, and he better not, because I swear, if he died and left me alone to raise these kids I will KILL him --if I had to attract a member of the opposite sex in order to provide a father for these kids, would I be able to? Moot point, I know, but still...
I'm not as witty. Along with the body, the children took my brain cells. I realized that next month marks 10 years since I graduated from college. Ten Years. Brandon's cousin needed help a few months ago on a musical theory project. She was analyzing a piece of music --this was my forte, dear reader! I could analyze the crud out of Mozart! But could I remember anything? Nope. Nothing. I knew some basics, but not enough to help out the HIGH SCHOOL student. Basic math eludes me. Critical analyzation of literary works at Book Club are hard to grasp. I can't remember Piaget's theories by heart. I can't even remember my competition pieces on the piano! There is very little (piano-wise) that I can play from memory anymore. I actually NEED the music now. Sigh.
I get it, though. Un-use and inactivity renders me forgetful. It makes sense. It reminds me how we need to make sure we are always growing in our testimony of the Gospel --if we are not growing, learning, continually trying, then we are regressing, losing, forgetting. I'm not in college anymore. I am no longer staying up late to practice the piano, write an essay, analyze Schubert, or memorize studies on infant brain development. My brain is being used for other things: remembering 7 separate schedules, learning how to best clean up cat feces or baby throw-up, wondering how to plant a garden, calculate the bills, pay the taxes, etc.
So, I'm okay with it. Is it sad? Yes, in a way. I do mourn the loss of my brain, but I understand what's going on --I'm using it for other things. I'm focused on the "now." I'm thinking about what it is I need to be thinking about at this moment. As I should be.
But sometimes I still wonder, am I still smart? Wise? Educated? (Again, rhetorical).
This mid-life crisis of mine is a dangerous place, I've decided. It's not a place that is reserved only for those who have reached middle age --I think we all go through "mid-life" crises several times in our lives. I think we reach a point when we ask ourselves, "Is this what I really want? Is this what I thought it would be? Is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Who the heck am I, anyway?"
There are options when we reach these crises. They are:
1. Bail on those who love us and run. Like this woman.
2. Start over. Like this woman. (I loved that book, btw, because she actually had the "start over" option, unlike the lady in #1.)
3. Ignore it and kill everyone. (That's a oversimplified example; my apologies.)
4. Realize that this is normal, reassess, retrench, relearn, and move forward, knowing that nothing is permanent, life has a purpose, and sometimes, the light around the corner is much, much closer than we realize.
5. Number 4 and lots of chocolate (raw and sugar-free, of course. Ahem).
I tend to want to do #1 and #2 --I don't ignore stuff. I usually head it off at the pass, hit it on the head, face it, whatever-cliche-you-want-to-insert-here. But I also know that I don't want to run away (I dearly love my hubby and kids and the covenants I made), nor do I want to live my life without chocolate. So I must, dear reader choose #5.
It's not easy, though. Sometimes I think giving up and running away would be the easy way out (although I've heard from some who have made that choice that calling it easy is a "Myth."), but I know it's not true. It just delays the inevitable guilt and/or regret along with a big dollop of loneliness. That's not to say, of course, that in extreme cases... but I'm not going to talk about that because I'm not talking about extreme cases. I'm talking about ME.
And here's something that I talked about with my buddy that really hit home for me (which I told her to blog about, so if she does, which she still should, my apologies):
Why do mothers feel like they have to be SOMETHING with mothering on the side? Why do we do that to ourselves? Why can't we say, "Oh, I'm a mother, and on the side I do pretty much nothing else because mothering is hard work and everything I am and everything I do and everything I stand for exists in mothering those little children even if you think that my writing, singing, piano-ing, part-time working is actually for my own personal benefit, it all fits into my mothering because you can't separate me from the children and vice versa even if you wanted to because we are connected on a soul level, and every intellectual and emotional improvement on my part automatically transfers into the "mothering" area because those little souls have ALL of me, whether I want them to or not."
I tried to explain to my friend once (who was single, but is now married, and now, I'm sure, "gets it") that being married cannot be separated into categories. There aren't any "boxes" in marriage --the sex affects the parenting, the bills affect the sex, the children affect the bills, the dirty dishes affect everything -- it's all connected in this crazy conglomerate circle and state of BEING. Marriage is so complicated, and the tentacles of marriage grasp onto every facet of your life: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical. This is why divorce, in most cases, is so devastating. It rips apart that state of being, and the wounds are raw and hard to heal.
Motherhood, I've decided, is like that. It's another new state of being --of existing. Great way to describe it:
Making the decision to have a child - It's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone
It's like that. You cannot disconnect yourself from your role of motherhood without inflicting everlasting pain. It's simply impossible.
And so why do we play it down? Why do we act like it's just something we "have to do" until they leave and then we'll get to "what we were meant to do??" Hey, now, before we get all upset, I'm the first woman out there who will jump at the chance for a break away with her spouse or a girls' night out. I'm not saying that a woman has to completely lose her individuality in the name of "motherhood" --in fact, if I'm saying anything it's that a mother's specific individuality is what BLESSES the children she is raising! What I'm talking about is the relational mid-life crisis thing I'm having; I'm searching for a way to get through it slightly unscathed, and part of it is realizing how drastically important my roles are as a woman. My mother role. My wife role. My CEO of the household role.
It's all connected. Which is why I think it's all a little messy in my brain right now. And Satan, that jerk, is having a hey-day with me, I think. Temptations are coming at me in ways I never thought they would, and it's been tough, dear reader. Very tough.
Anyway, do you see my point? Do you suffer from a mid-life crisis? Did you? Will you? How do you view motherhood and/or marriage? Especially in light of it being a new entity that normal mid-life crises would slaughter if given the chance?