If any of you have watched Brothers and Sisters, you might know that I dread being the kind of mom that Sally Fields plays -- her kids love her, but roll their eyes at her among themselves. Where's the dignity?! Before that, Ruth on Six Feet Under made me shudder at the recognition that her role represents a broad social perception of the "middle-aged mother of adult children." I do NOT want to go gladly into that dark night!
Out in the garden this weekend, I sought a happier perspective on the beauties of this stage, the autumn of my life. Berries and richly-coloured leaves reflect the vibrancy of this period, and although I see the portents of winter all 'round, I am not yet at my mother's or MIL's place in life. While my children, part of my harvest, are wonderful adults with their own thriving lives to focus on, there are other gardens to be busy in: I'm so much more fortunate than mom, who gave up her teaching career when she had children, or my MIL, who retired from hers much earlier than she wanted to in order to keep my FIL company. I have satisfying, engaging work that tells me I'm meaningful to a broader community, even on those days when my kids find me mother-irritating. And I have a partner who wouldn't dream of asking me to give that up simply to keep him company. There are no guarantees of what winter may or may not bring -- meanwhile, I'll do my best to squeeze the most out of my autumn.