These losses are real. Midlife motherhood has granted us our most heartfelt wish, while it has taken from us cherished parts of our youth and freedom. I fervently believe from my experience working with older first-time moms that by remembering, honoring, and incorporating parts of ourselves that thrived before we became parents, we can stay sane, balanced, and recharged. It’s like swimming upstream, back to your place of origin.
I was reminded of this several months ago when I went for a walk and ended up in my neighborhood park, where a primitive but beautiful labyrinth had recently been created out of our indigenous adobe soil. Impulsively, I walked through the archway and began circling my way through the maze. When I got to the center, I sat on the stone bench and for the first time that day appreciated the breathtaking New Mexico morning. High puffy clouds hung in a bright blue sky, red-winged blackbirds called to each other from crab apple trees bursting with bloom. For a moment I was transported back to my years as a single woman when I took delight in traveling alone to foreign countries. I loved going without companions because it left me free to follow the spontaneous call of adventure. Walking through that arch and following my impulse to sit on that stone instantly recalled the woman I had been before my career, my marriage, and my family. Before pets and gardens. Before taxes and PTA meetings. Before I had a clue what havoc midlife hormonal changes could wreak. I knew I didn’t want to be her again, I just wished I could visit with her more often.