Sunday, July 4, 2010


1 : the quality or state of being mature (based on slow careful consideration or having completed natural growth and development); especially : full development

I think I may finally be maturing as a mother.  I've always enjoyed the time my daughters spend with their grandparents: for years it has provided a much needed break from day-to-day parenting and a good splash of time for J and I to have alone together.  We've spent that time traveling together (Springfield, IL and St. Louis come to mind), cooking for each other (fond memories of roasting eggplant together and pureeing hummus for a lovely indoor picnic) and going out to dinner (dressed up for a night at Germantown Cafe last year).  This year was the same on that front - we got to take in a movie, try the newest, coolest burger joint and chill at an awesome new neighborhood restaurant.  But I must admit that while I enjoyed my husband, I missed my daughters.  And I missed them differently than I have in the past.

In years past, I've missed them, but not necessarily missed their company.  This time around, I actually noticed that my days were a bit dull without them around.  I went to a fabulous used book store - and of course got some great books for pleasure and next year's homeschooling - but thought about how much more fun it would have been to peruse the aisles with A and B as we trade off books that we each think the other would enjoy while K sits down in the aisle and looks through books. 

I see this as a sign of maturing as a mother.  Those toddler days?  Not easy for me.  Sure, the girls were cute and fun back then, but it was far more exhausting and I was more out of my element than parenting a 10 year old, 8 year old and 6 year old.  It's not necessarily that I know what I'm doing now any more than I did back then, but at least I can see hints of who my daughters are and can actively try to nurture the parts of them that seem to come from the core of who they are.  Perhaps if I'm not "fully developed" I'm at least trying to put "careful consideration" into the way I parent my daughters.  I'm sure I'll never be able to put together the full puzzle of who each daughter is, but I love seeing them develop and grow into who they are meant to be.

I recently finished reading a coming of age book about a teenager who discovers she possesses a unique and powerful gift.  As a fan of young adult fiction for its strong plots, intriguing characters and interesting themes, I've read many such books, but this time in particular, it struck me as odd that every "coming of age" book I've read has been about a teenager.  Why is that?  I had no idea who I was as a teenager.  I've done much more coming of age in my thirties than I did in my teens.

I suppose this idea of coming of age has its origins in the part of the definition of mature that relates to having completed natural growth and development.  For most of us, bodies are mature by late teens.  But emotionally?  mentally?  spiritually?  Maybe I'm a late bloomer.  Maybe you were fully mature - able to exercise slow, careful consideration and fully developed - in your late teens.  But not me.  I was so busy trying to be who other people thought I should be - or who I thought other people thought I should be - or some combination of the two - that I had no idea who I really was.

Then in my twenties, I was far too busy doing to worry about being.  J and I enjoyed the early days of our marriage, when we poured time and energy into our careers.  But life was too fast-paced for me to actually contemplate who I was.  I could tell you what I did, but I don't think I could have told you who I was.

My thirties have brought a different pace of life - much of my choosing, though the change of pace wasn't always easy.  For many years after I quit full time work to stay at home with my daughters, I missed work.  I missed using and challenging my mind.  I missed completing a task - and it actually staying completed, as opposed to the two steps forward, one step back routine of running a household and raising daughters.  But as I persisted, I found that I was able to snatch a few moments here and there to contemplate who I am and where I'm going.  I found, to my surprise, a desire to write a bit, both here on this blog and hopefully elsewhere some day.  I also found a willingness to do the previously unthinkable: homeschool.

It's somewhat amazing to find I am a mom who is willingly entering into the adventure of homeschooling my eldest daughter.  (Had a fortune teller warned me three years hence, I never would have believed her.)  Equally surprising has been the turn of events that left me finally content to not work the year K started kindergarten.  As much as I enjoyed my career, I thought I would surely be gearing up to work once all of my children were in full time school.  But I've found as I spend more time listening to my own heart - and less time guessing what others might want or expect of me - I am surprised to find unexpected desires, aptitudes and delights.  I do still think it would be fun and exciting to start a retail artists' co-op.  I do have skills that would benefit a non-profit or two.  I do have a non-fiction book I'd like to write.  And I'd love to be able to craft some fiction worth reading.  But part of maturity for me has been to accept that there is a time for everything - and it can not be rushed.

So while my body is fully matured and fully my own (no more bearing children, no more nursing, no more osteochondroma), I am just beginning to claim myself as my own. I am just beginning to listen to the quiet still voice that tells me what my heart desires.  And I am no longer trying to shush that voice out of fear.  I think I may finally be coming of age.  And wouldn't that make a beautiful novel?

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