Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A visit with my daughters

This past weekend, I and my eldest daughter and her 3 year old son drove down to Mobile to visit with my other daughter and her 3 year old daughter. This was the first time all of "us girls" had been together since my son's wedding. (Who, by the way, has grown into a wonderful young man.) So much has happened to all of us during those years. We went to the Botanical Garden early one morning and it was beautiful. Then, when we were all tired and the kids were ready for a change, we got them milkshakes and took them to the kiddie park. I was hot and tired, so I sat at a table in a pavilion to keep out of the sun while my daughters supervised their children.

I watched my children push their children on the swings and remembered when it was I pushing them both on other swings. Then, not for the first time this weekend, I realize how superfluous I am. I married, bore children, raised them, and sent them off as young adults to navigate as best they can the rough waters of this river of life; and I hoped I had given them all the tools they needed.

I am so proud of these young women whom I hardly know. It feels so odd to be the one on the sidelines basically taking up space. I'm used to being the one in charge and responsible for all the mundane details that are so necessary. Now I watch my daughters performing the tasks I had always considered my own particular responsibility. And I feel superfluous. Nature is finished with me, and I am a hanger-on whose purpose and usefulness is over. This is such a strange stage of life; but I am tired--emotionally and physically tired--and I am ready, even grateful, for this superfluity.


  1. It is a blessing to me that you wrote this because this is how I've felt the last few weeks with regard to my own children and even my baby sister. I feel like I hardly know them when I used to know them very well.

    It does help "me" get out of the way when I pray for them. I can say "Lord Your will be done not mine" a little bit easier and mean it.

  2. YES. YES. This time of life is almost as hard as adolescence, and has a lot in common with it, in that we now have to re-invent the selves we grew comfortable with. We got so used to being those women. Now we have to be some other kind of woman, a complete stranger in many ways.

    For me, the marriage of my daughter was followed almost immediately by being fired from a job for the first time in my life -- and it was a volunteer job, to boot. It took me years to get used to the idea of "being on the shelf." Yet, over time, I've come to realize -- it's time to retire. I've earned it. I've been working for all of my adult life, starting at age 18, and it's not only time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of my labors -- it's a good thing.

    And there's the thing that none of us can retire from, the spiritual warfare. Maybe that's why this time of life is given to us, so that we can use what strength we have left in this life-or-death struggle?

  3. Yes, Phillipa and Meg, this is, indeed, a strange stage of life. I never expected these types of feelings, and sometimes I feel "bowled over" by them they are so new and strange and unexpected. It was odd sitting in my daughter's living room listening to them talk about "women stuff" in tones that said (at least to my ear) that *they* knew about this stuff and I didn't! I knew it was useless to say anything. Anyway, I was the same way at their age; not a "know it all," but definitely secure in what I did know. You know what I mean. Younger folk won't. I'm glad my daughters have become "full adults" and so secure in themselves. The baton has passed, and good riddance, I say. It's about time.

    And Meg, I think you're on to something when you say that in this time of life our superfluity enables us to use what strength we have left to engage more fully in that "good fight."

  4. As I'm the age (roughly) of your daughters, I'm not to the stage you are describing, but I can see that feeling being given. Interesting discussion.

    And, I'm glad you got some mom-daughter time. Hugs.