The journey of contentment isn’t really a journey at all. A journey indicates there is somewhere to go. Contentment is being right where I am.
Perhaps being on a journey gives me comfort. That means there is more to life than this right here…this life I’m living right now. The sadness creeps in. The low level grief that lingers.
I can’t call it high level grief. I am quick to place that person on a pedestal. They have earned the right to have high level grief. No, not me. I’m over here tending to my low level grief. The grief that I’ve experienced is nothing like losing a spouse or a child or a parent. Hello comparison trap. I untangle myself and go back to my grief. Whatever the fuck kind it is…it is mine. That is for sure. No one can take that away from me. I am the only one that can dance with it into joy, tears, heartache and laughter.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Parenting teenagers is hard. And there is grief. It is real for sure. My babies are gone. My little people that were such a part of me are gone. They still need me, obviously, but it is a different role that they need. They didn’t ask me if I was ready to shift gears. But just like my surprise into motherhood came as a shocker, I guess it’s on par that this shift feels shocking too.
Nine months of pregnancy didn’t prepare me for the shock of Motherhood. And twelve years of Mothering certainly didn’t prepare me for the shock of adolescence.
Maybe it’s the timing. I’m also losing my Mom. Slowly, I’m losing my mom and the little girl in me is crying out, “It’s not fair.” It’s all happening at the same time. The little people that I have enjoyed playing and being with are different now. They are asking me to be different for them and it’s on me to show up differently…the Mother of teenagers. I need a new toolbox.
I’m expected to be different in my daughter role too. No longer vulnerable and needy, I am expected to take on the discerning, mature, adult daughter role. Perhaps there is even the expectation for me to lean into a caregiving role. I need a new toolbox.
And the famous question, but what about me? I have to create space for the ME in my parenting/daughtering journey because if I don’t, I’m scared I will I disappear in the shadows. They are center stage. I’m in the corner trying to keep up with the costume changes and making sure there are enough snacks between scenes. What I’ve discovered is that there is another stage in the next room and I find myself running over when no one is looking. I sneak in and stand right in the middle of the empty stage.
This is my stage and one bright light shines on me as I stand in the center, tall, strong and gorgeous. Deep breath. I’m still my own person. Awesome, I just needed to check, and now I run back to the main stage, where my children are performing their hearts out and I step back into my support role and smile my secret smile because they didn’t even notice. In fact, they might have experienced a moment of relief when I left the room. Perhaps I can sneak out more often.
It feels like a journey, that is for sure. I can see how time changes the direction of my journey. The different stages of my life can be measured in contentment, and now in grief. Low level grief, mid level contentment. What are you striving for, Sara? Am I hoping to paint a picture with only colors of happiness? No…I dare to live a real, authentic life. That means it’s time to allow all the colors to splatter, blend and contrast on the canvas. The blues are just as gorgeous as the yellows. I desire the full spectrum of the bright rainbow. Reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, bright pinks, grays, browns, black and white too. I allow them all to bleed into the different moments of my life, within this journey, on my secret stage and out in the world.