I can hear myself think

My house is quiet.  A quietness I would have been so grateful for when my daughter was a baby.  I never got quiet unless by some miracle she took a nap,   I got all the tidying up done, was able to take a shower and then sit.  I would have tried to read or do something for myself, but most likely I would have fallen asleep.  10 minutes later I would have been jolted back awake by crying, or toys being clanked around in her crib.  Then it was back to being a mom.  It was never quiet, not like this.  Not like I can hear every thought in my head and  every creak of my body.  I mean quiet!  There is no one calling to congratulate me that after 20 years of being a mom my daughter is successfully off at college.  There is no card coming in the mail with big bold colorful letters stating; ‘Good Job, you did it!’  And cursive writing in the card full of joy saying,  ‘You helped to develop your baby’s skills to the point that she can live away from you and  manager her own life, You rock!’.  Which is exactly what she is doing.  She is away at college and living in a house with 7 girls and getting along with all the different personalities.  She is going on job interviews to make money to help pay her rent.  She is organizing a house warming party to welcome her friends back to campus.  She is texting me back when I text, and letting me know when she can talk.  She is an adult, she is respectful, she is contributing.  She has always been very independent, but I will give myself a little pat on the back for instilling some good values in her.   When she was born, I received beautiful cards and amazing colorful packages filled with soft and fuzzy goodies.  I easily found other moms that wanted company, and even if we just sat in silence and watched our babies, it was comforting to be with them.  It was a time of lots of activity, lots of bright colors and lots of loud sounds.  It was a time that forever changed everything about me.  And now, 20 years later, I am going through another transition, but this time  no one is calling me.   In fact,  my phone is eerily silent except for the texts from my daughter.  I spent the last week organizing her room and my house, so that everything is in its place.  I know it will stay that way, since my husband and I are the only ones here.   I had the housecleaners come so that there is no dust, so that the carpets are free of footprint marks from my daughter and her friends,  so that the house smells like fresh clean  linen.  My house looks like it is staged for sale. Even the cats are hiding as if they know they might be next on my organizing binge.  So, now what?  Now, it is up to me to go in search of something to occupy myself. Try new things, make new friends.  But its hard, and I am tired.  It seems that the women my age are in hiding, or just want to curl up with a book and some hot tea and regroup.  Which I don’t blame them. We have all worked hard and not had a moment to ourselves, and now is our chance.  And I do want time to myself, but I don’t want to be forgotten.  If I didn’t make the effort to try and meet new people, would I just sit in my house for the rest of my life, forgotten by society?  Would this be it?   When I watch reality TV, like the Housewives shows on Bravo, they are having so much fun at my age.  They are traveling to Berlin, starting businesses, and have a social life filled with drama and intrigue.  I walk outside my door and my neighbor doesn’t even look up to say Hi to me.  Am I invisible now? Am I supposed to just melt into the background and watch life from afar?  Or live through my daughter who is experiencing everything for the first time?  I don’t want to do that.  Even if my phone isn’t ringing, and beautiful cards aren’t coming in the mail to congratulate me on raising a 9 pound baby into a contributing human being, I feel proud!   I am proud that my husband and I were a great team;  going to playgrounds together when she was a toddler, going to her plays together when she was at a magnet arts middle school, going to her track meets when she ran cross country in high school.  We cheered her on every step of the way. I am proud that I shopped at the dollar store to make ends meet, that I bought my clothes second hand to save money, that I scoured the internet for cheap family vacations so we could get away.  It was hard, but it was fun.  We did a great job, and continue to do a great job, and I am proud of us, and proud of me.   Having a baby is an accomplishment.  9 months of carrying a precious cargo, and successfully bringing another life into this world is an amazing event.   But it is also something most every woman can do.  Most women can bring a new life into this world, but not every woman can nurture that new life for 20 years into a self sufficient person that will contribute to society.  I feel like that is what I have done. I hope that is what I have done.  And every sleepless night when she was a baby and every sleepless night when she was a teenager has been worth it.  She is my living work of art, and I poured my very soul in to her.  Now, that is an accomplishment! The phone should be ringing off the hook with congratulations.  I should be getting beautiful colorful gifts  in the mail!  But my mailbox just has coupons for a free entree at Olive garden, and an invitation to join AARP.   I feel like running down the street yelling, “Hello, I am available to try new things, and I have more energy now. Does anyone care?”  People would most likely roll their eyes, and call me pathetic.  I would be considered the menopausal empty nester woman who is going through a mid life crisis.  No, actually I am the energetic creative woman that now has time to pursue some of her own interests, and doesn’t always want do it alone.  But,  I am learning to value my alone time to write, draw and get to know myself again.  It is quiet.  But it is starting to become a contented quiet of navigating the next chapter of my life.  Just like before I had a baby,  there were some long Sunday afternoons that I was so bored I wanted to cry, but things changed.  And change will come again.  It won’t always be this quiet.  So, I am going to curl up with some decaf tea and enjoy. I might even send myself a beautiful colorful card saying, ‘Job well done! You Rock! Enjoy your quiet time, you deserve it’

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