|Working through the middle of a story|
You would think that when you made it to fifty years on the planet, you'd come to at least some measure of self-comfort and self-acceptance. And sure, I guess that's true, but where on the scale that 'some' lies isn't where I'd thought it would be.
When I was younger, the term 'middle aged' always seemed to speak of being settled and a certain degree of complacency. I should have known better. Middles are never comfortable places to inhabit.
Look at stories: writers refer to "the muddle of the middle" for a very good reason. Middles are inherently unsettling places in stories. Our heroes are mired in conflicts, nearing the all-hope-is-lost section of our narrative.
While our lives may not be a story, they are certainly a collection of stories, and right now, all of mine feel spectacularly unbalanced and confusing.
All the roles I have taken on are shifting and I'm not sure where this will lead me.
My role as a parent is changing dramatically, and in a short stretch of time. For the past 20 years, one of my primary identities has been mother to two children. While I will always be their mother, they are no longer children in their own lives and in the eyes of society. My relationship with them is changing, has been changing, will continue to change.
My very body is changing to reflect that external shift with internal ones. I have been Maiden. I have been Mother. I am becoming Crone. And while I have a role model for this stage in my life - my late beloved grandmother - it is still unfamiliar territory.
It has been a lifetime since my husband and I were new lovers, learning each other's secrets, hopes, and fears. We have become as comfortable as Sunday jeans and a faded chamois shirt. Our challenge will be to hold onto that hard-won ease as we find ourselves a primary couple again.
And even as my role as parent changes, so does my role as child. My mother passed away a year and a half ago. My father just celebrated his 91st birthday and while he is still a force in my life, several years has seen this child take on more and more of a parent role in our relationship. There will be a time when I am no longer anyone's daughter. And yes, I do realize how blessed I have been to have a parent as an active part of my life at fifty.
Maybe the ground beneath our feet is always quicksand and we spend so much of our lives' energy pretending or hoping otherwise. All I know is everything is changing so much faster than I feel like I can manage.
I know in stories, what comes after this dark moment, is clarity. So I will muddle though the middle of my own story, and stay hopeful about what lies ahead.