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This morning, as I lay on the floor virtually gasping with a sprig of mistletoe between my teeth (left over from a tree clean-up operation befitting a park ranger crew), I assessed this year’s bout of post-holiday-traumatic-stress-syndrome.
I realized I’m in serious danger of walking into the light and losing my dreams.
Knowing that the blog, the book and networking projects had all gotten flushed down the seasonal toilet, I had an epiphany: I can’t keep beating my 50-year-old carcass with the perfectionist’s whip of my youth.
Moreover, after 3 weeks of single-handedly running a five-star, gilt-plated holiday hostel for family, I now feel like a firefly jammed in a bell jar– right alongside a suicidal Sylvia Plath (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/The_Bell_Jar).
24/7, I’ve been dishing up more eggs and hash than Mel’s Diner (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Mel%27s_Diner) during a commuter train strike and—I can assure you—not a single Christmas spirit has turned up to kiss my so-called grits.
A beleaguered firefly, gasping for breath, I peer at my abandoned computer and conclude that my brain got fried with the pig fat. I could as much write my blog with a set of sausage fingers.
Speaking of fat, the gym is a distant pre-shopping-mall-war memory—a pipe dream that belched one last brain-fart of “Auld Lang Syne” as the New Year appeared at the front door, married to a newly rejuvenated bill collector.
In other words, my gluteus maximus just gave birth to a fresh litter of blubber—thanks to hefty donations from Mr. Hershey—while my bank account died an indecent death in the pasture of ill repute.
And, no, the mirror never lies. I look just haggard enough to have completed and otherwise 80-day round world trip on Christmas Eve like the lone, bony little dog harnessed to the head of the hefty Grinch’s sleigh. The one that makes you tired just watching.
And to smack it all off with a lemon-lipped smile of good cheer, Frank wheeled on me over Christmas Day dinner preparations like Mr. Hyde on a bad hair day and demanded: “Why did you have to go overboard?”
His behavior, as my 5-year-old daughter, Lizzie, would say: “really put the meanery in an angry Troll!”
In fact, I can swear by my last dreg of brandy nog that Frank came within a snowball’s throw of blowing on that prime rib roast like it was the world’s biggest Christmas cracker.
What a wake-up call. And it wasn’t to see if Rudolph and Santa choked on their carrot and cookies.
Once again, I had given up personal creativity to generate festivity for the masses. The effect was far from that of the proverbial opiate.
Sadly, while my creative energy is spent providing a poor, magically meager light for my snoring fans, it loses its lightning where it really counts.
It begs the question: why sacrifice the mystical gleam of a firefly when the hard reality of 60-watt light bulb will do?
The truth is that mothers—especially those who had children in their 40’s and beyond—are between the perennial rock and a hard place of an impossible balancing act.
We are mistresses of a collision of the worst possible worlds—female liberation and maternal duty.
We’re expected to carry the domestic load of our foremothers, while “liberated” to work (as long as it brings in the shekels). True creativity is a luxury few of us can afford in our generation.
My last blog on the culture shock of going from career to motherhood later in life inspired one woman to write to me about giving up her independence to stay at home:
“I was thrilled at first, yet after a few months I slipped into a depression as I have always worked and have never been domesticated.”
“Culture shock? Yes! It truly is a completely different way of life for sure and one I am lost in. I feel so out of whack!”
“As much as I love my child, I have found I do not enjoy being his full time playmate and watching cartoons non-stop etc. I long for adult conversation so badly.”
“Doesn’t it seem like hours are years on some days?”
Her note came, yesterday, at precisely the right moment.
The moment when all that remained of Christmas was the emotional vacuum where my “self” used to live, along with an unexpected butt augmentation and a few forlorn pine needles straying across the hardwood floor.
The one in which I felt the blog, the book and the dream slipping through my fingers.
It made me want to blow the lid off my bell jar and shout: “Flower Power Mom (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) LIVES!”
But I sensed my voice would echo back to me like a lone hiker stranded deep in the Rocky Mountain snow, calling for help.
“…lives…lives…lives….” the mountains would mimic the reply.
Then I knew. I’m on my own. If Flower Power Mom (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com) is going to live, thrive and reach out past the peaks, it will be completely up to me.
For all women who strive to be true mothers to their children while remaining true to themselves, must find that balance within.
May you all–mothers over 40 striving to find the center path–discover such a state of grace in the year of 2011.
Notes for this blog:
Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring news, commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40.
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