“Its the silence that’s the hardest thing to deal with!” I’ve heard this many times. That inevitable moment when a mother waits to hear their precious child’s voice, or their music, friends and laughter. Instead, the ‘nest’ is silent. As mothers, we become accustomed to putting our needs second, out of necessity. We single mothers often forget about our needs entirely. We can in fact, sort of ‘forget that we are even there’. This is why we feel such emptiness when those we are caring for are gone. But, what if we were to remember not only to think of ourselves, but actually to delve into what makes us tick, what makes us happy? What if we were to ‘check in’ with our own ‘inner child’? Instead of focusing on the voice that is now missing, let’s look inward to the voice we may have forgotten how to hear.
When my daughter was very young, I found that there was this extra sweet benefit to being a mother. Friends who were new moms confirmed their own experience with this same phenomenon. At times, we were simply remembering a sweet joyful memory, sparked by a game we were playing with our child, or from watching them laugh delightfully. But at other times, it was those things that made our children sad, or challenged them. We found that as we parented our children, we inevitably worked through our own old patterns, memories, fears from our own childhood. We learned about ourselves as we nurtured and observed our own children progressing through the stages we passed through as children. We, in fact, were healing our ‘inner child’ as we raised our actual children! It would seem this is actually ‘built in’ to motherhood, to help us understand parenting a bit more! I have found myself ‘checking in’ with my ‘inner child’ over the years, to simply remember what a particular age was like, which in turn helped me to understand what my daughter was experiencing at that same age.
Now I am using a similar approach to dealing with my daughter leaving home; by ’embracing’ my own ‘inner child’. This is to help me remember what it was like to be young and full of dreams and goals, to think the sky was the limit, and that there was joy at the end of the rainbow. I am embracing a new life for myself as well. I am remembering the things that I liked to do. After years of seeing to someone else’s needs, its going to take some practice serving my own needs first. ( And there’s the little ‘voice’ laughing that I won’t; that she’ll still be first. ) But, I have started remembering old dreams; as a child, as a teenager, and as a young woman. I remember what I loved. I remember what made me feel excited, what took my breath away. I am restructuring my life to explore dreams that have been ‘tucked away on a shelf’ while I raised my daughter.
This exploration has reminded me that I love to write, and that I wanted to ‘be a writer’. Embracing this has shown me that I still have a passion that can bring me joy. We don’t always need someone to tell us what to do to be happy. We simply have to remember to look inside. I think once we realize we have a wealth of talent and dreams inside of us; that we hold the key to our own future happiness, then our lives start feeling fulfilled, not empty. We can fill our nest with love, even when our children are away. We can remind ourselves that our house is not empty and neither are our lives.
When you have spent years putting your needs second, it can feel selfish to do otherwise. Its not, its delicious. When we remember to hear our own voice again, it can be like finding an old friend. So, grab a cup of coffee and some chocolate, and sit down for a ‘stroll down memory lane’; you might be surprised at who you find. The laughter you hear may be your own!