“Since when did you and Dad…..” they asked.
It was a conversation I had with my college-age kid. I shared recent activities my husband and I were doing. They were baffled because we were doing things unfamiliar to them. In their mind, we’re forever the Mom and Dad who resided in their world before they left for college.
In reality, we’re middle-aged parents with teens and young adults. My husband and I have more time for our interests with two of the four kids out of the house. Things we haven’t had time for because we were absorbed by four kids and their activities.
Now we’re busy with just two teens. Some days it seems vacation-like. We have breathing room while parenting two instead of four.
We have time to be people.
To our adult child, we seem different.
Instead, they’re realizing their parents are people, too.
Adults with interests outside of them.
Living in the land of teens, college students, and young adults, it’s a new season for everyone, not just parents. Families morph and change as kids go to college. Parents develop new activities, even careers.
As I listened to my child, I remembered my own experience. I was the youngest in my family of origin. My parents changed when my siblings and I went in college. Mom was active in local politics, being the first woman president of the town governing board. My businessman-dad took on new hobbies – like bowling and fishing.
My dad never bowled or fished before.
They went on cruises and redecorated the house.
Who were these people?
Likewise, my older children are asking the same things. Their dad is doing things outside his comfort zone. I’m doing new things, too – like writing books, speaking at national conferences, and maintaining a website.
(“Mom, I check your speaking schedule on your website to know where you’re at.”)
For a second, I feel guilty. Like I’m betraying the mom-image they knew.
But I tell myself it’s healthy for my kids to see me grow.
It’s good to use your gifts and expand your skill-set rather than experience the stereotypical mid-life crisis, seeking unhealthy “what else’s” you’ve put on hold during the parenting years.
* * * * * * *
My grandma’s generation didn’t embrace personal development when their children left the nest. A book was written about that stagnant emptiness. It’s called the Feminine Mystique.
My parents were pioneers. They pursued interests and hobbies in middle-age that gave them vitality and joy. Heck, my mom just won another town board election after a twenty-year hiatus.
She’s actively serving at seventy-eight.
* * * * * * * *
I told my child their dad and I will look different then when they were teenagers. We have places to go and people to see that we’ve put off for years.
Because when we were their age, we had kids.
Now it’s our time to grow up.
And I want to do it well.