My Nest May be Empty, But My Kid Still Calls Me Mom

Mother of Reinvention

Mother of Reinvention

By on Sep 23, 2013 in Generation Fabulous | 9 comments

I am a member of the Generation Fabulous group of midlife bloggers, which runs a monthly bloghop. This month’s topic is “Reinvention.”

English: Agraulis vanillae butterfly.

English: Agraulis vanillae butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My home town of Los Angeles didn’t invent the concept of reinvention, but it is probably the capital of it. For generations, my city has beckoned folks from around the world to relocate, rethink and make a new start. I don’t know if it’s California’s climate, laid back attitude or relative newness, but this place seems to be a magnet for people who know in their hearts that if they can’t make it where they are, here is where they will have a shot.

This is great for all of them – but it leaves me kind of cold. I was born here and have lived here just about all my life. Where do I go to get a fresh start?

The truth is, reinvention is not a process just for artists or hustlers, nor does it require a change in geography. All of us hit stages where the life we define for ourselves no longer fits, when we need to shed an old skin and start anew. And I think it happens more frequently for women.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot these last few months as my daughter entered 12th grade and I’ve been hit with the reality of the empty nest looming just ahead. Being a stay at home mom was never in my plan; before she was born I was confident that I would handle motherhood and career with the same competency I had always displayed in my professional life. I was wrong, and admitting that shook me to the core.

I did not reinvent myself as a full time mom – the world did that for me. I became aware of this the first time I accompanied my husband to a work event, and I got that inevitable question, “And what do YOU do?” My answer – that I was home with a toddler – stopped the conversation cold. I got the message, loud and clear: to the world at large, there is nothing interesting about being a mom. Better keep that information to yourself and let the people who matter do the talking.

Of course, the work of raising a child DOES matter, and I am immensely proud of my daughter and the fact that she is secure in the knowledge that no matter what happens, she has a mother and father who are always there to support her.

I am also proud of things I have accomplished these 15 years at home that have little to do with her, especially this little blog I started a decade ago as a creative outlet – long before anyone was using the term “social media.” It has introduced me to a world of fabulous, interesting people who are doing fabulous, interesting things. It has led me to some incredible adventures that I never imagined: including an appearance in People magazine and the opportunity to cover a Presidential convention.

As a stay at home mom, I have reinvented myself as an automotive writer, a political pundit and a podcaster. But I did not arrive at any of these reinventions with any sort of plan: they just happened.

And now, I am at a crossroads. My blogging and other ventures don’t add much to the family purse. And now that my daughter doesn’t need me to be a presence 24 hours a day, what I really need to do is get back out into the world and earn a living. The problem is, regardless of what I have done these 15 years at home, the world still sees me as “just a mom.” And a 57-year-old one, at that.

I am finding re-entry hard. And I can’t see the way to get it done.

I don’t think I need to reinvent myself. But I think we all need to reinvent the world’s idea of the vibrancy, energy, wisdom and value of women who happen to have spent several years raising a family.

We are a force. And a natural resource being wasted. And that is a shame.

 

 

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    9 Comments

  1. Good luck with your next phase in life!

    joyweesemoll

    September 23, 2013

  2. You probably are in the process of reinvention. It often takes time to see what we’ve done. Good luck with the next adventure and the upcoming empty nest.

    conniemcleod

    September 23, 2013

  3. How well written and insightful!

    Haralee

    September 23, 2013

  4. I searched for a year for a job after my youngest left for college, and then started blogging. It’s not easy to find a “job” in the traditional sense after being a SAHM for so many years!

    Sharon Greenthal

    September 23, 2013

  5. Yes, the power of mothering does too often get overlooked. Congrats on blogging for a decade. I haven’t even hit year two yet. It’s been fun and interesting to “meet” other women through their writing. I have a daughter, too (but she’s only in the 7th grade). She went to camp for a week this summer, and I missed her so much that I felt like it was a dress rehearsal for the empty nest. I’m trying to hold her tighter (but not too tight) for the next 6 years before she flies. Hugs to you and your child during this era of transitions for both of you.

    thegenaboveme

    September 23, 2013

  6. Where ever you arrive is where you’re meant to be.

    janieemaus

    September 23, 2013

  7. It is very wrong that the weight of raising the next generation falls so heavily upon women and after they are done performing the world’s most important task they find themselves relegated to irrelevancy. This does need a reinvention. I think when we stop using the male paradigm as the “normal” one and the model for which we as women need to emulate that it will change. But it is going to take a lot of hard work.

    Good luck on your next phase. I found the period right before the empty nest to be the most emotionally difficult. Enjoy these last few months with your daughter. You’ll make the transition eventually and look back with joy on your next reinvention.

    chloeofthemountain2013

    September 23, 2013

  8. Never doubt what you have to offer. You were already ahead of the game…blogging for a decade even before the term “social media” was a buzz word. You are a creator and innovator!

    Pat

    September 24, 2013

  9. Donna, Thanks for allowing yourself to be vulnerable in your post, sometimes next steps do fill us with trepidation. I think Chloe really hit the nail on the head in her comment above, the needed reinvention is how the world views the SAHM. Your post got me curious so…I just finished reading your “About SoCal Mom” and your bio and I find myself thinking: Donna has SO much to offer! Sounds to me as if you have a personality has been, and remains, cutting edge. I have a hunch that there are amazing things in store for you. Thanks again for sharing

    Elin Stebbins Waldal

    September 24, 2013

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