Ryan’s been at his dad’s for over two weeks now. I saw him 2 Fridays ago when I brought Alex for visitation, and I saw him again on Sunday when I picked Alex up. Other than that, he hasn’t called (he says he can’t) or sent email (he says the connection is terrible). I missed him, so on Sunday night I called my ex’s cell phone and left a message. Ryan returned the call last night, and we talked for 40 minutes. Nothing’s changed, though I did tease him about his mustache. It was visibly growing in, last time I saw him.
This morning I dropped Alex off at camp. He’s such a big guy, physically, even if developmentally, he’s still my little boy. He’s excited about his independence. (He was so proud to have his own umbrella today, even if it was a 24-inch Winnie the Pooh Umbrella he’s had since it was bigger than he was.) I drove away as he stood there in the drizzle, with his fellow campers and his counselors, and immediately I missed him.
On the drive in—which seems to be when I’m most philosophical—it occurred to me that maybe what I miss isn’t so much the boys. I’m delighted to see them growing into themselves. It makes me feel like “I done good.” What I miss is my identity. As they grow up, I still wear the “mom” label, but I’m not a mom the way I used to be. The days of spoon-fed mashed veggies and watching Sesame Street are behind me now. The boys are growing into who they’ll be, but I’m growing into who I’m going to be too. I won’t be Mommy anymore. Already, I’m Mom. My identity is changing.
(It makes me think there’s a very real benefit to prolonged monogamy. As my other roles change and adapt—and despite my family’s belief that my brother is awful at accepting change, I really believe I’m the worst at it—as long as we’re both healthy and together, I’ll always be “Honey”.)
Often I’ve heard the expression, “Just be yourself”, but for years I wasn’t sure who that was. I’ve spent so much time trying to be who people needed me to be that who I am got lost somewhere along the line. I try to remind myself of the things I enjoy doing, the things in my life that make me happy, but I’m not sure that fully explains it. Who am I?
It’s raining outside and I have 3.5 more work days ahead of me before a very busy weekend. I picked a lousy time for a midlife identity crisis. 🙂