Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Me ~ 1975

I have a routine of daily tasks and chores I do.  Doing the morning dishes, making our bed, fluffing a pillow, loading the washer, emptying the dryer.  Everyday I set my sights on the accomplishments of finishing what I start.  For almost 34 years of marriage, four children, countless pets, I have nurtured our home life and felt my life's destiny.  I've watched as my three daughters have left home, first to college and then to their own lives.  Sometimes they have been near and sometimes they are away.  I cannot visit them physically everyday yet I miss them being in my life.

Have I been a mother so long I have forgotten the girl I was before children?  

Just the other night my Love and I were talking of a difficult situation that has happened.  We tried to understand this and talk about it.  It doesn't involve us but it does involve our love for those who are.  Inside I was grappling with the importance of how I mothered and am still mothering our son who is at home.  I thought how I feel about my role.  How I know I am needed even though I don't feel the need I use to.  

This is the first time I have only one child to take care of.  I have always been occupied with getting someone from point A to point B by a certain time on a certain day.  In a year our son could be driving himself instead of me.  With R. not being in our presence as when he was younger I am beginning to understand how it will feel when he is fully gone.  I am not taking this well.  It's that Mothering thing again.  I only seem to know how to be a mother and a wife.  

My Love and I began having children three years into our marriage and ever since I have had a child in our home.  What will it be like when that is no longer?  

I use to think that my Love and I would be able to retire, he at a young(er) age due to how strenuous is work is.  We would travel the world just he and I!  Anywhere, everywhere, whenever!  I never thought about the financial side of this.  Only in the last five years did it hit me of how we could pull that off.  The stupid economy zapped so much of his potential jobs.  Who can get a line of credit?  Who can afford to do work on their homes?  More and more people are hiring the "cheap" laborer and acting as their own contractor.  More and more are learning to do it themselves, regardless of how the job might look.  Hey, my Love has been building since he was a little kid beside his father.  You need to know your math.  You need to put in the time and not complain of heat or cold when you outside working.    You need to be appreciated for the work you do by the homeowner.  Virtually all those jobs he use to get use to be referral!  Now so many of those homeowners are dead, old and not needing anymore work.   Everyone now wants a "deal", they want it cheaper, it's like they never think about the craftsmen work to make a job not only be finished but really look good.  

So he will not be retiring early.  He will continue seeking work.  We use to say we would sell our home and buy a smaller home but he loves the home and the land.  Then of course real estate isn't doing so well.

I am deviating from my original thought though.


I've just watched the inspirational documentary "Who Does She Think She Is?" that is now available on Netflix.  When I first heard about the making of this I was moved.  The role of women in society, the lack of acceptability for a woman to be a mother and to have a creative side.   Wow, I hadn't thought about the role choices that women have!  How utterly naive I was.  I waited patiently for this documentary  to be available.

Now after watching it I am flummoxed.  Have I neglected or hidden my creative side?  I certainly have given little credit to what I can do or would want to do creatively.    And what do I want?  What part of me feels inspiration?  I just don't know.  I just don't really know who I am.  Certainly not the woman inside me.  I know myself as my Love's wife, friend and lover.  I am loved, wanted, and needed.

What do I want to round myself out with?  I love to write, I love to take photographs.  I don't see myself as really good at either but it does give me pleasure.  In seeing the women that were filmed I realize that each of them had a purpose that became fulfilled once they let themselves become what was always there.  It was sad though that several lost their marriages due to their desire for creativity.   It was a choice they had to make almost like women of the past who made choices to be wives and mothers or be creative.  History still repeats!  Do men feel so threatened by a woman's need to be personally fulfilled?  

I know my Love supports my need to write.  I try to balance my life with keeping our home a place I feel comfortable in and one that my family does as well.  Still I am feeling this uncanny search for my unsettled feminine Goddess within.  

I just ordered the book "When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions" .  I love how Sue Monk Kidd writes.  Her other book that fulfilled my heart's wish to someday be able to travel with my three daughters,  Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story , that she partially co-wrote with her daughter of their travel to Greece.  In this book she shares her inner feelings of being a woman and what she is searching for in her own life and what she is concerned for of what life means to her daughter in being a woman.  Her words reflected much that was and is in my heart for my daughters to want a loving, caring, respecting, resourceful, growing relationship with me.  Not just that I was their mom but I am a friend.  There is much we can share and learn from each other.

This passage said an uncanny thought I have felt that was in that book: 
" Finally, I began to write about becoming an older woman and the trepidation it stirred. The small, telling “betrayals” of my body. The stalled, eerie stillness in my writing, accompanied by an ache for some unlived destiny. I wrote about the raw, unsettled feelings coursing through me, the need to divest and relocate, the urge to radically simplify and distill life into a new, unknown meaning. And why, I asked myself, had I begun to think for the first time about my own mortality? Some days, the thought of dying gouged into my heart to the point I filled up with tears at the sight of the small, ordinary things I would miss."

How odd to get to a certain age and think of ones mortality.  Yet I do.  I don't dwell upon this but it does rise up and I look at every beautiful sky, every lovely flower and think this could be gone and how I do not want this to be.  I lull for days sometimes bemoaning these thoughts till I realize I am wasting the precious days that flow by.  Stop! enjoy.  Be happy with your life be happy with yourself.

I often wonder if my weight gain of the forties and fifties is a response many women go through of being concerned with the denial of happiness.  Does food fulfill this?  No it does not.  Does our body naturally gain to compensate for the anticipation of another decade on the heels of midlife when appetites dwindle and the body needs the fat to live upon?  I rather like that theory better.  Yet, I find myself unhappy with my body.  I compare to what I use to look like.  How can I feel this way?  If I wasn't preoccupied with such thoughts and felt fully fulfilled with myself would I become the way I envision myself to be versus the one in the mirror? 

Purpose.   Goal.  Choice.   Forgive.  I need to love what is inside me as well as what is outside me.  I have what I have and some of these can't be changed without medical intervention (those lovely veins that I developed after the birth of my children), softening of tone in my body (I am doing the gym...geesh it sure takes a lot of effort now), little lines on my face and neck (don't look too close in the mirror, especially a magnifying mirror).  What matters is what I express from within.  How I express it to others.  

I am open, careful of my feelings.  I will wake in the morning and melt inside with joy when I see my Love beside me.  I am not alone with him to share each day with.  He loves me for me.  


Corinne said...

Oh Ellen... this tugs at my heart. This post reminds me of many conversations I've had with my mom. On purpose, on kids growing up, on the changing rolls of motherhood and womanhood and being a wife.
I wish you luck and send you warm thoughts and wishes... enjoy your exploration of self and finding ways to express YOU.
{I love Sue Monk Kidd, she's one of my favorite authors! I've been meaning to pick up the book about her travels w/ her daughter... thank you for the reminder!}

Ellen said...

Corinne.....It is amazing being a woman, it is a gift I am so grateful for. Being alive is a gift and I hope I never take that for granted...ever!

Sue Monk Kidd's book of traveling with her daughter was such an eye opening, heart opening get it will not be disappointed.

Elizabeth said...

Yes. I often wonder who I was before my children, who I might have been and who I might be, yet.

Beautiful post, Ellen. I think the questions are what's important.

Ms. Moon said...

I fought with these thoughts more when I was a young mother than I do now. I think that those years when the children's needs are all-demanding are the hardest for women with creative urges, needs.
Well. Obviously books could be written on this topic. And have been. And will be.

Ellen said...

Elizabeth....overnight after I wrote this I thought about some of my phrasing and words. I do know who I am what I sometimes wonder is why my emotions throw me off balance! Certainly I am an ongoing evolving human.

Mary...hhhmmmm. My young mothering years I threw myself into fully. I was so excited to be a mother. It was creative for me by figuring out how to be a mom. All sorts of new "Ellen" came out over all those years.

***I know I said I was grateful to be a woman and in no way did I mean to imply being a man was not good. I just am happy that "I" was a woman. Sometimes my thoughts race ahead of me in a hurry to get out before I fully think them through. My family knows this well. I often need to "clean" up what I write.

plantingalongtheverge said...

Ellen, I have come to believe that a woman's purpose may not be revealed to her until "mid-life", after the kids are grown and she's left to her freedom. I'm finding mid-life to be a second adolescence of sorts.
Good luck with your search and thanks for the film link. Putting it on my queue.

Ciara said...

Oh what a thought provoking, wonderful, heartfelt post.
I am so incredibly lucky to have had a wonderful role model in my creative mother, and as a result I have had no problem holding on to my own creative self. My problem is time! It can be incredibly frustrating though, having the creative urge pulling you in another direction while you are joyfully immersed in being a mother. The challenge is finding that balance, and at times it is painful.

You will find your creative path. You probably already have. You blog, therefore you create!


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