This morning is another morning in a quiet house. Last night I went to bed early, so this morning I also woke up early. I’ve showered, washed the last couple of days’ accumulation of dishes in the sink, unloaded the dishwasher, moved the laundry I put in last night from the washer to the dryer and added another load to the washer, two loads for the whole week, neither full, including bath and dish towels from last weekend when my kids were here.

These are the details of a quiet midlife at home for a solo working woman who’s been working too hard too long and is ready to find out what next now my work load is beginning to lighten and the crises of the last two years have settled down. I’d say new normal here I come, but that seems presumptuous given what I know about life.

My kids are grown and I’m learning to be in relationship with them as we cease to share daily life. I’ll spend a long awaited weekend in New York with my son sometime in March. We’ll visit a museum, eat good food, walk in the park. I’ll see how he’s settled into his new place. Maybe I’ll meet a friend of his or two. I’ll drive and stay in a hotel, now my financial fears are lessened and he’s got a roommate who might not feel so sure of my sleeping in the kitchen like I did when he lived in a tiny studio and his brother and sister and I shared the kitchen and hall floor.

My Somerville son and I are developing a rhythm of shared meals, sometimes including his partner, sometimes just us two, sometimes his sister and/or my partner and sometimes my partner’s daughter, last weekend my daughter’s new guy. We text and communicate. He drives my van. I still help him with small things like filing his taxes and covering his cell phone and van bills. He stops by sometimes, to get his things, or to share a meal.

His room is in transition as was his brother’s room before he established himself a separate longterm home of his own. Now my older son’s room is a guest room/study/meditation space and my younger son’s room is still his, though I am beginning to envision what comes next. Last week I imagined his room becoming the library I’ve been wishing for for many years, to hold the books that are now all over the house. I’d turn the window out to the back porch into a french door, remove the wallpaper that we wanted to take down when we bought the house twenty six years ago, paint the walls and ceiling in a fresh palette, maybe move the bed out and return the sectional that’s been partly in my room, partly in the junk room upstairs, to it’s original home, maybe open the wall between that room and the kitchen, open the wall between the kitchen and back stair, add windows to the back wall between the kitchen and the back porch, bring in some light and air, open up the second floor which is now all living space, rather than shared between private bedrooms and shared spaces.

All dreaming has it’s down sides. I’m not ready for my son to stop calling this home. I love having my children’s belongings here to remind me of them in their earlier phases of life, collections of beloved books, games, toys, art supplies, projects left on the shelves, clothes in closets and drawers and bins, musical instruments, gifts from friends. It all reminds me of the life we’ve lived here together, of why this house is a place I still call home.

As challenging as it’s been at times to maintain and keep this big old house as a single woman, as big as the house feels for one person now the kids are gone and no partner has moved in, this is my home. I struggle with the privilege of it, of keeping and living in a home I’ve owned or at least paid a mortgage on since I was twenty four, through a divorce, through partnerships when I might have chosen to leave it, a place that is bigger than I need, which I am choosing not to share right now more than with the tenant in the day care apartment below.

I need time to settle in it again, alone, post relationships I hoped might become domestic partnerships, if not marriages, post raising my kids, pre-retirement by quite awhile. So, Friday nights and Saturday mornings I’m tending to it and to my feelings of loss and my dreams for the future. I’ve been taking these times alone at home. Feelings and images arise. I feel compelled to write about it, or to care for it, or just to rest, even to go to bed early and give up on the week’s work and the sorting out of life’s dilemmas. I’d like to learn to give my body and heart and mind time and care as I adjust to the new realities that are my home and life.

After writing this morning, I’ll flip the laundry, then walk to the accountant’s and pick up my revised tax return, stop at CVS for Vitamin D, as I’ve been low too long and my doctor tells me it might help with sleep and fatigue and aches and pains, then home for some desk work and home and personal care, then off to the ICA if all goes well, a museum trip to reward myself for a very long stretch of working hard, to remind myself the deadlines of March 1st are reachable, to immerse myself in another’s vision of creativity and hope, if the exhibits and/or films do their work, to spend time with my partner and his daughter, to be out in the larger world.

Today I read that working moms work an average of 98 hours a week, starting their days at 6:30am and going strong until well past 8pm. That, for sure, has been my life, for many, many years. I’ve made it through that stretch of raising young kids. Now I’m working hard to support my kids through high school and college, then to make it possible for me to eventually retire. How the upcoming years will look in the day to day making of home is something I’m dreaming myself into, one quiet Saturday morning at a time. Any ideas of how to make this stage of life rich rather than lonely, fertile rather than barren, soulful rather than sterile? Writing and words, I expect, will help, as will little things like painting a room or buying and burning candles, making plans to see my kids in their young adult lives, and visiting a museum with my son in New York or my partner and his kids here .

Midlife is not a glamorous phase of life, not one that gets a lot of attention. Recently I watched Rita, a Norwegian series about a woman in midlife, single mom to three kids around the ages of my kids, a public school teacher, finding her way through relationships, trying to hold onto her ideals and her kids, messing up, making change, starting again and again. I woke up this morning feeling really grateful for those images of life, which have made my own feel less odd and more real. She didn’t give up even though things didn’t turn out as she’d envisioned. Neither have I.

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