I haven’t had any weird thoughts for ages. I’m not sure why. That in itself, is weird. They seem to be coming less often than they used to, like moments of clarity, of which I used to have a lot. I should be writing my MA Thesis, not having weird thoughts. Procrastinating, moi?
This is a weird thought I had whilst driving to Wolverhampton (not on the toilet) this morning. I was thinking about my identity. Over the last 15 years I have spent a large part of my waking hours with small people. These are the small people I gave birth to. As a consequence, my identity, my sense of self, my ‘meness’ has morphed into their sense of ‘meness’. I have put a huge amount of my energy and my personality into them. I have given them unconditional love and attention – day and night. It is just what happens when you have small people. It is a beautiful thing.
As a consequence, they really do feel as if they are a part of me and I a part of them. It is a unique relationship. It is something I never thought would happen to me, not having ever felt one ounce of maternal desire before they came along.
Now I am at a new stage in my life when they aren’t with me all of the time. They go to school, that hasn’t changed, but they also spend long weekends and the odd school holiday at their father’s house. So there are much larger chunks of time when I am without them. Only a few months ago I could count the nights I’d spent alone on one hand. Now, that count has more than quadrupled. I feel a strange sense of loss during those times. It isn’t quite as biting as it was at first, but it is still there. But it is more than a sense of loss. There is something that has happened to my identity. I feel as if I am less of ‘me’ than I should be. Certainly, the me that existed prior to 2003 is no longer all there. I am mostly me but not completely. I think that is because when they aren’t with me, they take our shared identity that we have developed away with them. It is really very peculiar and something I haven’t come across in any of the books I have read. I feel like a faded shadow when I am alone – a paper cut out. I know this is temporary though, and a consequence of years spent with my identity tied to other people: Luke’s mum, Josh’s mum, Toby’s mum. I don’t mean to paint this in a negative light. They are my world. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but the gradual grieving process that comes along with them growing up is something I am having to deal with.
I am fascinated by this feeling. I don’t like it but it interests me. And why not? I am always learning new things about myself as I grow older. I guess that never stops. But this bizarre concave feeling is real. Does anyone else in my situation feel this? I guess it is a sort of early ’empty nest’ thing that is very normal. Having them spending prolonged periods away from the nest means that they have, sort of, flown, a little, albeit to come back soon. I just need to colour myself back in again. I am doing that, slowly.