For the past few year, I’ve been struggling to find my place in the world. No longer young, not yet old, I am at that brief (and almost non-existent) stage of life where aside from the dog, no one depends on me and I don’t depend on anyone else. My career is stable. My marriage is child-free and un-complicated. My simple life is already more than I had ever thought it would be, so what is my problem? Why do I sometimes feel like a mismatched sock?
I would like to blame it on the MS, but the truth is that the feeling of discord came long before the symptoms or the diagnosis. While it’s true that MS has changed my life, it hasn’t really made it any less fulfilling. I am happy. I just don’t fit into any of the neat little boxes that life has laid out. As babies we’re perfect little miracles, so full of life and possibilities. Our job is just to thrive and grow. As we grow into children we become curious and imaginative as we learn and play. As teenagers, we’re moody and riddles with hormones. Our one job might be to not get into too much trouble and maybe even learn some responsibility with our first job. As college students, we’re evolving and learning important life skills and our job is to see the world for all that it can be. As we advance on to young adulthood we begin making our way in the world, hustling and bustling up the career ladder. Our goal is to get ahead and succeed. Later, as parents we’re busy and sleep-deprived and living for the moment. Our job is to instill values and strength in our children. When the children are grown and we’re empty nesters, we enjoy the peace and quiet or maybe reconnect with our spouses. Our role is to always be there for our children when they need a warm bed to come home to or a shoulder to cry on. As our children become parents and we become grandparents, we’re wise and appreciative of what life has given us. Our job is to pass that wisdom on the best we can.
As a childless, 30-something with a steady job and a good husband, where do I fit in? What is my role?
The idea that I didn’t fit first occurred to me while shopping one day. Wandering around the store, I gravitated to the Juniors section and browsed the racks. I was not impressed. I immediately decided that most of the options there were too brazen for my taste so I headed over to the Women’s section in search of something a little more modest and neutral. What I found was matronly at the least and grandmotherly at most. The clothes were cut in the most unflattering styles possible and did nothing for my confidence. I cried a little bit in the dressing room that day because it was the first time I realized that I was no longer a 20-something with my future laid out before me. I was a 30 year old woman who wasn’t ready to dress (or act) like a grown woman. I wasn’t ready to delve into the thralls of life yet. I wanted more time.
Later, when I voiced my frustration with finding clothes to fit my 30 year old body, one friend kindly pointed out that I needed to shop in the Misses section. Coming from a small town where Walmart and trendy places at the mall were pretty much the only option, I never realized that such an option existed. I welcomed the Misses section with open arms. However, life is not that simple. Life has no Misses section. For women, it seems that you’re either a kid or a mother and I am neither. It’s no secret that I want children. I have longed to experience motherhood for several years now, but as I come to realize that the universe may have other plans for me, I begin to see the world a little differently. Life may bring me children in its own sweet time. Until then, I am settling in to Otherhood.
Otherhood is life with no immediate responsibilities or challenges. It means sleeping in on the weekends, reading the news in my PJs on the couch, and finally mustering the motivation to cook myself breakfast closer to lunch time. It means watching a Netflix series on autoplay for three hours on Friday night and choosing to eat a banana with peanut butter and maybe some leftover cheese cubes for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking. It means day trips to the park with the dog and evening dinner dates with my husband at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
Most importantly though, Otherhood means taking time to learn and experience all of the things I was too busy to notice during my childhood and young adulthood.
MS may have helped to nudge me into Otherhood but it won’t keep me here forever so I am slowly learning to enjoy it while it lasts. With a little effort, I may just find MY place in the world after all.
Inspired by the Daily Post prompt: Childhood.