Kids need me but only between the crushing hours of early morning and after 4pm. Dogs and kitten want things with their eyes every thirty minutes in between. Husband is all newly flirty, sweetly romantic, and retirement-planning.
I knew this time would come but I must've been changing the garbage bags because I didn't see it arrive.
Ten years in family-rearing trenches never felt so rewarding and so completely bereft of self. I'm sure I was there because two small children call me Mommy but sometimes I wonder. Do you, too? Do you wonder where you went and why you had to go all these years? Do you miss yourself?
Where did that student go who finally earned a respectable GPA by her last year of grad school?
What about that new teacher who smiled at everybody except the principal?
Who did away with the girl in the band they called Dove because she was the only white girl in the entire studio?
Why didn't that writing thing take off?
Didn't she try photography for a while, too?
Well, here's what happened:
The student is resting. She studied her eyes out for like 28 years, she's tired and taking an eternal break from putting pressure on herself to do better all the time.
The teacher is still teaching. Her class is much smaller now, more manageable for her. Sometimes her students get mouthy and she still tells them to drop and give her 20. The big one enjoys PT but the little one doesn't. She prefers to answer everything in song.
The girl in the band still gigs. She has a regular show every night at around 8:15 when one of her students is scared to be in bed alone. It's an intimate setting in a dark venue - a rocking chair with the lights on low. The set list has been on repeat for about four years. Time to work in a little O.A.R. and Juice Newton. Man, I really loved Juice Newton.
That writing thing really did take off. She authors her life story for her children to read someday when she can no longer recall the details of their beautifully busy days.
She did try photography for a while but has decided to step away from a lens that is one more distraction during the day. She'll bring it back when the time is right.
Moms and dads, don't worry. I know by the time you get to where I am - 40something and experiencing a shift of seismic proportions - you're going to wonder where you went, too.
You're still in there.
Watch, I'll prove it.
Did you sing in the shower this morning? Yes, humming counts.
Do you daydream at work and linger at the water cooler so you can hang out with your friends?
Are you secretly DVRing that Roosevelt special on the History channel because you always thought Eleanor was Teddy's wife?
Do you feel resentful that you are expected to stand by and take pictures with your phone like a parent of all things during a really cool birthday roller skating party for your son's friend? Instead of strapping on those skates to let your 16 year old legs - because that's how old your body still is in your mind - fly around the rink?
Yes? Well, there ya go. You are still in there. Never left, actually. Simply a change of focus on other people who needed you to focus on them for a few years instead of your impressive small turning radius on wheels.
I won't pretend to know how to resurface after all these years of being subterranean. But I can tell you it's a bad idea to think you'd make an amazing Roller Derby Girl if you've never actually seen a roller derby scrimmage in person.
Oh yes, I highly recommend researching thoroughly and no, attending practice doesn't count. The girls play hard during practice and sometimes there's a pack of ice on someone's ankle but the real bouts are where it really goes down. Girls become women on a gurney to the ER.
I had a name picked out and everything. Many names, truth be told. Every day the youngin' in me would come up with another bada$$ name to match my bada$$ idea of becoming a roller derby girl.
Seize Her Milan
Bangers & Smash
Gin 'n Toxic
Queen of Tarts
and my all time favorite: Venus Envy.
Well, it's not going to happen. Derby is for ladies who don't mind breaking bones and working through the pain of healing. I mind all that very much. Trying to imagine folding laundry and giving Abby a bath with a broken clavicle was all I needed to cure me of signing up. I'm more of a "Here, let me get you a warm washcloth," and less of a "Hey Pansy, I'm gonna smash you in the throat!!"
It's good to know your limits.
Venus Envy was but a dream.
But it's ok because I'm still in there. Bubbling up more and more every day. You will. too.
Enjoy the surprises you have in store for yourself. See if your body needs plyometrics or a cozy nook in a cafe people watching. It knows, all you have to do is shower and grab your keys. Want to work with animals but feel you need experience? Drive to your local sanctuary or Humane Society and they'll set you right up with a plethora of dogga kisses and kitten head boops. Need to stop doing for others and instead do for your sassy self now? I get it. Peruse aisles of a store and listen for a new style to lure you in. You've always wanted to try big round earrings? Do it. They might go great with your new short hair.
I'm sorry, I should've warned you. And yes, it's a little shocking to me, too. We'll all get used to it. I've always wanted this hairstyle. Just on a much younger face. Ha!
Yes, this might be a disorienting time but an exciting time to rediscover yourself or better yet - redefine yourself! If not now, then when? If not you, then who? Someone else named Venus Envy, that's who. You cannot let that ho steal your thunder. Go out and make your own.
I'll pass you a warm washcloth.