When I met Michael, we had three children in the area, one of whom lived with me (mine, of course). His two children lived with their mother, but we had children around and about us. They weren't children, really, but teenagers, young adults, just about there adults. But then my youngest son graduated from high school and went to college. I had dropped my oldest off at college two years before, but my youngest is my youngest, and I knew that this was a major turning point for him and for me.
Then Michael's oldest left for college. And yesterday, his youngest left, and while neither of the girls lived with us, we had dinners and vacations and outings and phone calls and visits. This summer, we spent a lot of time with his girls, and especially his youngest who brought over her friends for dinners and visits. And now, poof! Children gone.
I can't claim them as part of my empty nest syndrome, but the idea of not being the adult female to anyone younger than myself is something to consider. At school, I try to not mother my students. It embarrasses them, making them feel as though they are talking to their mother. Having your mother then talk about the incestuous themes in Hamlet gets a bit dicey. So I lay off the motherly role in class.
I have no pets, so I don't have a small warm fuzzy thing to talk to and feed and worry about. I have a bird feeder, but that doesn't count. I have the visiting cat Poppy, but even she seems to have gone to college.
So, well, aside from holidays and vacations and visits, I'm on my own.
But I've written about this aloneness, in a way, a long time ago. One of my characters is a 45 year old college professor whose daughter has died. She is alone, expect for her ex husband whom she can't quite send away entirely and her cat. She has to deal with the world without a child or a man as an anchor, has a sort of traveling adventure, and what did I do? Give her a man and a surprise pregnancy at the end. I guess I couldn't contemplate it for a whole novel.
In another novel, I had a woman finally leave her husband, one of her children at college, the other soon to go, and what did I do? Find her another man.
Both of these novels were published, but in one hanging in my C drive, a woman basically reclaims all of her life, her experiences, and then truly sets off on her own, alone, without anyone. She did some very unexpected and bizarre things while on this journey, some dangerous and potentially life threatening. No one liked this character. My agent hated all of her decisions and the readers found the character difficult to like and relate to.
Well, I'm not going any where, and I do have a man. But without any children around, I wonder where that highly developed part of myself will wander. Where does mothering go when there is no one to mother? I can't wait to see.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org