Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ripening Potential and Possibilities

For Friday, October 7, 2011

In the past few days, to a few different people, I have spoken of my mother and of my role as the youngest child of five. But today something dawned on me that I had never given thought to before. It’s not that I hadn’t realized that my Mom had me when she was 40 years old or that when I left for college she was 58, for surely I’d long ago done the math. But rather, during my teens and twenties, my mom had already been through the “teenships” and the “roaring twenties” with four other children before me and thusly, she seems to have been much wiser, mature, or at least more experienced than I am presently at age 43.

I am similar to Mom in many ways, but as is to be expected, in some aspects of who I am, I am quite different. Likewise, my children have some of me in them, and in other ways, they are unique unto themselves. It’s a healthy admission that we can share so much similarity and yet be so starkly foreign to one another. But I also got thinking today that I was not around when my mother was going through her 20s and 30s, and although I certainly have great memories that flash into my mind from the time I was a young child until the age of 10, I really did not pay close attention to her 40s in terms of how she handled the process of aging. Although I do well remember her use of Oil of Olay, but no, let’s face it. I’m not talking about staving off a few wrinkles.

My 40‘s have only just begun and although I have always been a very contemplative woman, I seem to be giving a lot of thought recently to the circle of life and to my own journey. There are aspects about myself that I feel I should have figured out by now and yet I struggle to know what it is I want for my next steps. I’ve always considered myself a mesh of contradictions and I suppose in recent years I have been trying to make sense of those seemingly opposite sides of myself. How can I be a confident actress and singer when I take to the stage yet be so introverted and painfully shy in many social situations? How can I be someone who wishes she could stay at home and dwell in domesticity yet wish to travel the world to see and to experience every corner of the world in creative ways? How can I want to be a daughter that wishes only to crawl into her mother’s lap again for comfort and security, yet want to be the mother who protectively nurtures and rocks her own children for hours on end? And how can I be both grieving and celebrating the love and the loss of growing older?

The memoir/travelogue Traveling with Pomegranates continues to speak to me. It is a perfect in its shape, its story, and its wisdom. With an aging mom and two daughters ages 16 and 19, I relate to Sue Monk Kidd and to her mother whom she speaks of, and to her daughter Ann, her co-author. I am completely wrapped in the thoughts and/or the lives of these three women, each generation.Not a page of the book is turned without my stopping to nod or to sigh or to even wipe away a tear. “This is my womanhood”, I think to myself. This is me. I am all three women rolled into one, and yet I am my own individual self. Kidd's pomegranate discussions link back to this theme of perpetual motherhood and the expanded metaphors are not lost on me. In some cultures the pomegranate is a symbol of fertility. In others the fruit represents paradise and abundance. Still, what the story and reflections are offering me is this: My journey as a mother and as a daughter is rich and beautiful.

In their book Sue says her daughter is “new potential in search of ripening” and that she is “ripening in search of new potential”. I look at my own daughters as they are in the midst of finding the women they will grow to become and I am excited for all of the choices and possibilities that await them. I look at my son and at almost 12 he too is growing and maturing. I am still needed on a daily basis in the lives of my younger children and I am more than content with that, but I know the next 7 years will pass more quickly than the last 7 did. Like Monk Kidd is as she crafts her book, I will then be turning 50 years old. I’ll be wiser, more experienced and more mature...or at least I hope so. But I am wondering whether I’ll continue to ponder my journey and to question the paths I am walking. Something tells me, it will not matter whether I am 43 or 50 or 150, I’ll still be full of contradictions yet still full of potential, choices, and possibilities.

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