• Tweet (http://twitter NULL.com/share)
  • Delicious
  • SumoMe (http://sumome NULL.com/)
  • Tweet (http://twitter NULL.com/share)
  • Delicious

(http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/older-mother-after-christmas/fireflies/)

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.

4 Responses to A Firefly In A Bell Jar

  1. pomomama (http://pomomama NULL.com) says:

    yes, yes and yes!
    i didn’t get a holiday over the christmas break and i certainly had work i needed to do (which i will now be scrambling to catch up on until february) but it was still almost 100% down to me to provide the “spirit of christmas”. this year i resent it even more as i’m working ‘outside’ the home more and have had ‘the little talk’ with mu husband about sharing more domestic duties. in translation this has meant he expects me to list out his duties, ask him, nag him and be his PA on all things domestic. i’ve even done the gift buying for his/our child!
    next year will be different – i’m not doing it all, i’m not even planning it all. somehow i’ll make it good for the kid, but everything else can go take a hike – next year it’s completely up to him

  2. Mer says:

    This year, we lost a family member, two days before Thanksgiving. Over the ‘holiday,’ I planned the funeral attempting to coordinate all which our family and my dear departed uncle would have ‘wanted.’ People were pleased and it went as well as could be expected. I am in college (started after my 25 year-old graduated), and had finals; plus I am a tutor at the college, so that was high priority. Christmas for my eight-year-old (had him when I turned 40) was of the least possible amount of the usual decorum and tradition, yet, he seemed unscarred by the hardly decorated tree, and the non-home made cookies. We still snuggled and enjoyed the lunar eclipse, and talked about past Christmas fun times. Somehow, thought we barely fumbled our way through, sadly absent our uncle who lived with us for years, the goodness of family outshined any shadows. Your blog column was truly inspiring, deftly descriptive and enormously refreshing. I had such a great laugh, because I know. I just know. And that is a wonderful thing to share. Thanks!! – Mer

  3. Christina says:

    I became a very grumpy Mama over the holidays as I overplanned and overextended all of us – trying to make memories for our daughter – all the while trying to keep up with my employer. It was not pretty. Maybe next year, I too, will enlist the help of my husband to buy gifts and to do more and to realize that all our children really want is US, not a bunch of presents from Santa, but my alternate plan is that in my next life (lol) I am going to come back as a man so I can enjoy my children more without all the work. Ha. I could really relate Angel! Thanks for the shared empathy!

  4. anja says:

    sadly, this is so true… I am 41, have a baby daughter which turns 1 year tomorrow, work and will study finish my degree in the evening.
    I spent 20 years of my life living serenly on my own in my flat, not caring the world about things, having time to cook elaborate meals when I invited friends over for lenghty dinner parties, sleeping long on weekends, having snowboarding holidays over long weekends and working long hours in a well-paid job. That was the past….
    Now I cook because ready meals for toddlers are not only unhealth but very expensive, I wash 4 times as much laundry (does not make sense, because there are only 2 more people in my live…?) as when I lived on my own, spend 1 hours picking up my daughters and my husbands mess from the floor every day, manage the cleaner, pay all bills, make sure the car is MOT’d, make sure we have a nursery/school in place and the christmas card list up-to-date….
    oh, and every two weeks I try to make 2 hours time to keep in touch with old friends…
    But in 10 days, I’ll pack my suitcase and go snowboarding: on my own! And I will insist that one week per year, they’ll just have to cope without me. Saying that, after one day I’ll probably miss them so much that I weep in my brakfast on day two… ha ha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *