Over the weekend I was cruelly reminded of my age when I took my daughter to Forever 21. I was one of the oldest customers.
Talk about a reality check.
I almost bought myself a Def Leppard T Shirt in an attempt to reclaim my youth but sadly they only carried it in an X Small. Go figure.
My kids are delving into their teenage years, meaning they aren’t needing me as much anymore in terms of the daily needs a small child requires. It is a unique season, a time in which they are discovering more independence which is allowing me the freedom to take a nap, finish a book, do errands or watch a show uninterrupted. And as mothers of small kids know, you can’t put a price tag on that.
Instead, our conversations include deeper subjects instead of the latest Paw Patrol episode. They can make their own lunches, do laundry and are becoming functioning members of society. They are starting to vision cast about their futures such as careers, college or in my son’s case, a post graduation backpacking trip through Europe (hold me).
But with it comes another season. A season of redefinition. After 14 years of (grateful) stay at home parenting with intermittent employment, who am I? I’ve lost all sense of my identity as a woman.
We find resistance when trying to reenter the workforce. We discover our education from years past really has no relevance now due to a ever evolving market.
In interviews I’ve been asked, “What have you been doing during your lengthy time of unemployment?”
Aside from wanting to answer, “Raising humans’, my work experience is outdated unless you consider running the bake sale at my son’s school viable employment.
So I decided to do an experiment as a way to build a little work history and test the waters for something that might click, something that might ignite some inspiration or even a new passion. I decided to start over.
Over the past year I worked as a nanny, a barista and most recently employed at a Montessori school. I’m grateful because these jobs have revealed to me what I DON’T want to do. That alone has been enlightening. It also has allowed me the opportunity to reflect what I DO want to do based on my interests, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes from present and previous jobs.
I’m entering Part 2 of parenting which is revealing it’s own set of challenges and joys, intertwined with sadness over the fact my children are on their way to adulthood.
It feels weird as I start paying attention to myself again, wondering what’s next. This time of uncertainty can be considered a second chance. A chance for a new career whether it comes from a new educational pursuit or perhaps from a passion that has been lying dormant.
Whatever it is, I think those of us who find ourselves in this stage of life deserve the opportunity to discover the importance of finding fulfillment.
And if your passion is running the bake sale long after your kids have finished school, more power to you. I have to keep reminding myself that every experience we journey through allows us the opportunity to learn more about ourselves.
Take time to figure out what drives you, what excites you, what inspires you, what challenges you and GO FOR IT. As a fellow sojourner I can say you won’t regret it.
(This post originally appeared on The Dalai Mama)