When our youngest recently came home from college, friends in tow, to attend a certain epic concert, my empty nest reflections found a landing spot for all my thoughts about the motherhood journey and how it looks with a Taylor Swift lens.
Upon our monumental breakthrough role stepping into motherhood, we’re ready to announce to the world about the new little darling on the way. Everything feels exciting and full of possibility, imagining a closet full of sweet baby blue or florals, and a babe with sweet little curls.
We make our debut on the red carpet of motherhood, breathless, and nervous, perhaps feeling like a bit of an imposter, while also full of future dreams.
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With the babe now in our arms, the mom role feels sparkly new, with fairytale dreams of the journey we’ve entered. This magical season of motherhood is unlike any other, with curiosity and courage of both adventures and the realizations that the legendary ideals for motherhood include many myths.
Day by day, we tell ourselves we will fearlessly accept the hard realities of caring for a baby while finding our footing.
In raising three kids, I can testify that the toddler years are a time of many clap backs. We’re finding our voice for the critics, gaining confidence to speak for our own mothering choices.
We’re also finding our voice to confess and admit the struggles of raising a toddler, in full independent mode, who seems to think it’s their season to clap back at us.
The toddler days certainly feel theatrical, as magic moments swirl with drama, like a mix of red and blue creating a definitive purple hue.
Oh, the brightness of the preschool years, as we’re experimenting with discipline and teaching our kids the important foundational skills they’ll need. There’s the heartbreak of pulling away, sending our kids to preschool, and the mix of loneliness and euphoria in those hours without them.
The sparkle of the newness has worn into a more mature mothering outlook, somehow bringing together both the glory and exhaustion that fits together.
The early elementary school years are all about squads — finding both our mom squad and friendships for our children. We have to boldly pick a lane in schooling choices that feel like the best fit.
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These years are full of big changes, emerging as the social coordinator for the family, showing up at activities and school programs, with the quieter preschool days leading to full-on public life. All the discipline and life skills we’re teaching bring out our edgier sides, morphing and evolving with our children through the delicate dance of academics, social lives, and extracurricular activities.
There’s nothing like middle school to bring out the villain in all of us. As moms, we want to yell out, “Mom can’t come to the phone right now,” or “look what you made me do!” Adolescence is a difficult era for moms and kids alike. Our innocent little cherubs are suddenly engrossed in upholding a certain reputation, while experiencing name calling, bullying, social media pressure, and shifts from their past “squads.” Meanwhile, us moms tend to go dark in sharing our struggles, uncertain of safe places, wondering about bad press and scrutiny from others.
The dark and edgy middle school years begin to melt into more palatable soft pastels. In the short-lived entrance to the high school years, we find an eclectic rainbow of kids considering next chapters, owning their own opinions and perspectives, and also their agency. As moms, we feel the bright and cheery of a new era, watching our kids begin to define who exactly they are, leaving struggles and the opinions of others behind.
Folklore and Evermore
Moving through high school, our kids begin to write their own stories, with their imaginations and ideas running wild.
Like an indie artist seeking to define his or her sound, the artist tries on new collaborations, new activities, and new thoughts about what the next chapter holds, all the while beginning to create their own universe.
The empty nest era can feel like the middle of the night, wondering what the morning brings. Launching kids is a wistful era, pacing the floors, facing questions about past mistakes while sweetly having our minds turn to all the memories made.
It’s a paradox of an empty house with a full heart, watching our kids define their paths. It’s retro reminiscing and future dreams, revisiting the past and all the sleepless nights, while also rekindling the light of dreams deferred during earlier seasons of mothering.
Touched by loneliness in this era, we wonder if we’ll meet ourselves and who we’ll be when the clock strikes midnight. We’re also discovering how all the scattered stories of past eras of motherhood touch and define who we’ve become.
Every era is unique with challenges and joys that somehow fit together to become the story of our lives, guiding us into the fresh joys and challenges to come.