I had a wonderful week last week visiting St. George Island in Florida. We did the typical beach things – built sand masterpieces (not castles, but mainly sea turtles and mermaids), jumped and dived in the waves, flew kites, walked to the lighthouse on the island, shopped a little (only a few stores), played board games, ate seafood and otherwise relaxed, rested and read a lot of books. It was a much needed break and time to be together as a family.
It also gave me some time to look at the feelings I have been carrying around this school term. I adore homeschooling, but I have lately been more wanting more time to myself, . I have vacillated between feeling a bit resentful of not having more time to myself and then thinking what would I even do with this time – a vocation? a job? a midlife crisis? (Insert cheeky grin here). I love homeschooling, adore it, but often what I want is a few hours a day where I am not on call so to speak and can devote time to my own interests without any of the outside world intruding. I have also had this same conversation with many veteran homeschooling mothers, and I know many other homeschooling mothers feel this way (especially, it seems, those of us in our mid-40s).
I wonder if this is partially just midlife – that strange time and feeling where you wonder is this what life is? What different path would have taken me somewhere else? Where is the future really headed? In past generations, many women had children earlier and often their children were headed off to lives of their own by the time a woman hit her mid-40s. At this point, a woman really had the time to re-discover herself. My mother- in- law remarked to me awhile ago that most women in her generation hit menopause by their early 40’s (ie, when she was 40, many of her friends were already menopausal), another sign that life was taking a different turn than previously. Contrast that to this day and age when so many of us in our mid-40s are still in the trenches raising small children or even having babies. So, part of me wonders if this is programmed from the past – this need to re-discover one’s self apart from children – and if we as a generation are not yet caught up yet to the reality of having children later. I feel for me as if these thoughts and feelings started with the seven year cycle that began around age 42, but now is in full swing at age 44. I keep being drawn back to the words of Betty Staley’s book “Tapestries” about the years 42-49 here. here.. I am even looking into the years ahead ahead.
Sometimes I also wonder if this feeling of wanting more and needing to be alone something specific to homeschooling mothers? We spend so much time and energy as a homeschooling family on our children (and hopefully on our spouses as well, but I guess that is a whole different post!); perhaps it is only natural after some time to feel or want a bit more for oneself. I don’t feel like a “veteran” homeschooler by any means, but my oldest is in seventh grade and we have been at this for some time without any interruptions. Perhaps this stage of homeschooling just contributes to restlessness in general?
I don’t feel burned out or worn out, just thoughtful about the developmental process in adults. Where are you, and just you alone, these days in your thoughts and feelings? How old are you and do you think that plays into how you are feeling and what you are wanting at this point in your life?