Much like the Central Texas weather lately, a storm has been brewing in me. I’ve noticed the gray clouds looming, felt the electric currents in my air, smelled the stillness of the calm before the storm and tonight it finally hit.
For over a week I have been pushing against this restlessness, this anxiety, hoping that it would go away. Naturally, I blamed it on PMS but I know it’s so much more.
I’ve tried to distract. I have eaten more than my fair share of whatever food I thought I wanted and poured more than enough wine past these lips. Still nothing has satiated.
I’ve busied myself with work, looking for a new job and reaching out to prospective employers with the hope they might want me to join their team.
I dived into planning a graduation celebration for Ellis, even creating a Pinterest board with 27 different ideas for how to make potato salad. I don’t even love potato salad.
Five pounds and at least as many arguments with Richard later, I realize I can’t outrun the storm that is myself. I can’t outrun my reality.
The clouds finally burst tonight as I took my bath. Trapped in the confines of my tiny tub, without any food to stuff or wine to numb, the realization that I am profoundly sad about Ellis graduating washed over me.
Other moms might be taking this milestone in stride, but this girl isn’t. At least not tonight.
I am 45 years old and as of Thursday I will be unemployed. I don’t really know what I want to be yet when I grow up. The only job I have ever wanted and never wavered on was being a mother.
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to have children. When I was a newlywed, I wanted to start our family immediately but we decided to wait until we finished our graduate degrees. For over 500 days, I crossed off the dates and counted down the time on a handmade calendar that I kept hidden in a drawer until we could start trying for a baby. Just trying. Yes, I know. Weird.
That baby, the one I waited my whole life plus 500 days for, was Ellis.
And tonight, my tender heart cannot accept that the time from the day I first held him in my arms to the day I open my arms to send him off into this world has come and gone. I scarcely blinked.
I’m so proud of who he is and how grown he seems. I’m not sad that he’s graduating from high school and setting off into the world. I cry tonight for the days that are gone; the hello sunshine kisses, the afternoon snuggles and stories, and the nights of lullabies and sweet dreams.
I cry for the slow adjustment I seem to be having at mothering adolescents and teens and for the innocent girl who still hasn’t figured out who she is and feels certain she is running out of time.
But I can’t keep crying. That won’t help anything. It certainly won’t bring back the sweet yesteryears. For now I can just breathe. Breathe and read potato salad recipes.