Questions from a Midlife Crisis

How do you remain enchanted with your life? Since becoming empty nested I have days at a time where I lose my enchantment and wonder about the meaning of it all. Is there meaning or are we just a bunch of atoms endlessly swirling around the universe? If life is choose-your-own-adventure, then does it matter what I choose? Would one choice matter:mean more than another? If we make our own meaning, then doesn’t that imply life is inherently meaningless?

Why does a big part of me feel done with purpose now that I raised my babies? It will always be my greatest accomplishment, but it isn’t everything.  Motherhood was never supposed to be everything. I tried not to let it define:confine me by also being a nonprofit professional, an artist, and a community builder. And yet now I feel lost without motherhood directing my choices. Motherhood gave me a container, a shape, a purpose, and now I feel like an amorphous blob with little definition. I keep trying on new shapes and they don’t fit, or perhaps I don’t yet know how get them fitted for me. I had to make motherhood fit because my babies needed me. I was the only chance they had to transcend the circumstances they were born into. And maybe that is the underlying loss – I am no longer needed. I am no longer necessary. I am a choice and a lot of people have said no to choosing me. Four jobs let me go since moving to Portland. Countless social media “friends” I reached out to weren’t interested in deeper connection. I don’t know where I belong, if anywhere, beyond the walls of my home and marriage.

All those years of mothering alone and serving my community all I wanted was a healthy partnership. Now I have my dream partner and a chosen family in our adoption triad, but everything else is a mess. I am writing, but I can’t seem to finish anything beyond these daily posts. I am making art, but I don’t know what will come of it. I am supposed to be trusting myself this year, but today it is all doubt. And the comparison gremlins are shouting at me that I am nothing next to all of these brilliant humans I know making meaning in their ways and being chosen for it. Today I am lost.

1 Comment

  1. April, how long ago did these changes take place? You probably have emoty-nest syndrome. I have two grown sons, married, one couple with two babies. My husband died in 2009 after long battle with the effects of poorly controlled diabetes and several of its effects. I had to retire from my 37 year career of nursing due to sciatica and disc bulges.
    I made three friends along the way who are truly good friends and let me vent and supported me when I needed it.
    I sampled several hobbies, like art, still writing my blog, adopted two cats, volunteer 4 hours.a week at a thrift store that supports a cat adoption agency.
    I think part of getting through the “syndrome” is to think back on what you had a passion for when you were young and explore related avenues to try.
    If your problem is depression which keeps you stuck in a rut, then make yourself get up and do something. Go somewhere everyday, hike, explore places you haven’t been to. If it requires counseling to help you get through the grief you may have from the loss of your previous lifestyle, then get help. You may be grieving for what you loved while being a mother. You were loved, helping, teaching, taking the kids places, it was difficult at times but you faced the challenges of motherhood. Those times were familiar. Now you are on the brink of the unfamiliar.
    If you are writing everyday, unless it is helping you to do so, try writing every week for a while. Write just because you want to. I got hung up on trying to increase my readers and realized although I had a few popular articles, it wasn’t the numbers that counted. It was the responses to my posts that made my day.
    You may need to stop writing for a week and get out of the house and do something new. Then write about what you learned, or how it made you feel, or if it helped you.
    I don’t claim to know the answers and I don’t know you well. Please accept these as suggestions to try if they fit.
    Also stop comparing your blog posts to others’. I have found that when I repost old blog posts and reread them, I see a definite improvement in my writing abilities. I learn as I read others’ blogs too. Compare yourself to your past self and see how far you have come. Good luck!! Hope I helped some.

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