Saturday, October 16, 2010

About mothers, growing older, and doing what really matters...

This past week was all about laying low, enjoying perhaps the last bit of warm fall weather, while recovering from the Art Crawl. I had my mom here for a visit. It was a good visit, but hard in some ways. My mom turned 80 this summer. In many ways, I think she is doing very well. (I start wondering how my body will be holding up in 30 years!) But there is no denying that she is aging and her body is slowing down. I can't help but worry or fear the time when her health will fail even more and ... it's hard to think about.

I wanted to get my mom out to enjoy the nice weather and so we decided to take a trip to the Conservatory. I thought the place would be empty on a weekday, but I was wrong. The place was crawling with toddlers and preschoolers, mothers, and grandparents. Another realization: while I am not yet a grandparent,  I noticed that a good number of those grandparents were not much older than me. Yikes! (My kids are not ready to be parents and I'm in no hurry, but perhaps something that will happen in my 50's? ... all in due time!)

I imagine I'm also thinking about these things more, because in a few short months I will be turning 50. I realize I am becoming a member of an older generation. Whatever that means. 

It's all a matter of perspective. I am not yet ready to think of myself as part of an "older" generation.  I guess I'm defining what that means for me.

I am still embracing the freedom of having grown children, who still look to me for support, but not on a daily basis. I am trying to pursue some of my own dreams...which means sometimes putting myself first. Boy, is that hard to write. It doesn't mean ignoring family and friends or other things that I care just means not always sacrificing my own goals to make sure others are happy. These days, I am making some very conscious decisions about what I want to do with the second half of my life. BIG stuff.

My mother spent her life raising six children. She has 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren (so far)! She was the mother that was always home when I came home from school and often had something good coming out of the oven about the time I walked in the door. (I got my love of baking from her). Her life pretty much revolved around her family.

I'm not sure she would complain about that. I hope she knows how much we appreciate all the sacrifices she made. I feel a need to make sure she knows that. We were not a family that said to one another "I love you", but it was understood. It still seems stupid to me that it's so hard to say that to my mom or my siblings. Some things are hard to change. I'm working on it.

As I was raising my kids, I told them everyday that I loved them.  Now those very important words flow from our lips to each other with ease. It should be that way. 

Consider this a warning that these days I'm juggling some big issues...I'm thinking a lot about the second half of my life. I'm determined to do things I love.

Family will always be very important. Friends too. Relationships are a core part of my life. But I'm also thinking about how I will fill my life with meaning and activities that will keep me spirit, at least.

And for me, that means doing what I love. What I love most, is making art...painting...filling my life with color. I'm exploring how I'm going to do that. 

Life is, after all, a work in progress.


Gloria said...

Well you just answered your own question about what you will be doing with the second half of your to how you will do that depends on you and no one else. It will be your time and I'm sure that you will make the time to do what you love. I'm sure your family sees that too. Whatever you do risa, just enjoy life to the fullest, it's just too darn short. doggone it! Take care.

Carrie Schmitt said...

I really enjoyed reading this because of its honesty and your willingness to share yourself. I'm glad you are doing what makes you feel alive and young, while still appreciating relationships. It sounds like you are finding a solid balance in your life--Bravo and enjoy every moment!

Anonymous said...

I really relate to this post, Risa. 50 for me was a very tough milestone but now, a few years later, I embrace the freedom that comes with age and the fact that my children are happy, healthy and doing well on their own. That gives me more time to focus on my aging parents. For many reasons 50 is a tough time in life for women, but I believe that women who have recognized and embrace their creativity have an easier time with it.

Amelia said...

I agree and resonate with much of what you say. I feel the changes as I get older and don't have as much energy as I used to, and that is also a reminder to do what I love doing. It sounds like you are doing great. It's such a juggling act being there for our kids and also finding the time to do something for ourselves too.

Keep up the art, that will always keep things balanced I think! :)


dora said...

Love your post and can relate too,but things happen and life must go on, and I have learned we have to just go with it. The last age I remember having any feelings about was at 20, so now past 50, who cares? It is a number. Make art, love your family, and smile very day. Life has a way of getting involved in my art so I sneak it in when I can! Now that I'm relatively free to do my art full time, I'll be watching a new granddaughter! So I just roll.

Jo said...

Looooove this post, Risa. So much of what you write resonates in my own heart too - worries for my own Mum, the freedom of growing children, new opportunities and fresh beginnings. And you're right, following the leading of our own hearts and souls in the way to stay young in spirit. Such a privilage too to have that choice.
Thanks for the inspiration and warm encouragements.
Hugs xxx

risa said...

Thank you for all your comments. I am actually feeling pretty good about turning many ways, it feels very liberating. It has made me more reflective...taking stock and looking ahead to a future of great opportunities!