Enjoy the Ride

I started preparing for my journey to the other side of the hill a year and a half ago. I don’t think I knew I was making a momentous decision at the time.  It seemed like the logical thing to do.  I decided to trade in my extra long minivan for a small economy car.   Most of the time I found myself alone in the cavernous seven-seater, to the tune of 11 miles per gallon.  A new, smaller car just made sense.  Besides getting much better gas mileage, it would be easier to park, to back up, to wash.  So with my mind made up, why did I tear up at the thought of parting with a fourteen year old, soccer ball dented, gas guzzling minivan with the ram emblem peeled off by my middle child?

This ugly hunk of metal and I had a sentimental attachment.  In it, I had chauffeured my babies to preschool, to elementary school, to middle and even high school.  The whole family had piled in with our bags and suitcases for countless trips to the beach.  Loud groups of friends were brought to birthday parties, practices of all kinds, and gymnastics.  Quiet secrets were shared with Mom in the safety of the sound proof van and the security of everyone facing the same way.  I had more than half-raised my children in that vehicle. To get rid of it was to admit that life had irrevocably changed.  I was no longer in the familiar, comfortable position of having children in tow everywhere I went.  With them, I knew who I was. Mom.  My role was clear, and I was good at it.  Now, who was I, all by myself?  I’d spent so long making sure I nurtured my children that I hadn’t planned who I’d be when they were grown.  All these emotions were symbolized by a minivan.  So I let myself have my tears.  Then I took a deep breath and made the trade.

I have been surprised at how quickly I’ve adjusted to my smaller car, and how little I have missed the van.  I am enjoying the feeling of driving it, and I’m reminded of me when I was single and had plans.  I feel faster and free. The car itself isn’t faster, but going places alone and unencumbered is liberating.  I drive more often. I’m free to do crazy things, like run to the store in the evening when I used to be putting someone to bed.  If the old van symbolized the joys of motherhood, the new car symbolizes a new found freedom to be me again.  It encourages me to dream and figure out exactly who that is.  It calls me to enjoy the ride on the other side of the hill.

The path on the other side of the hill

Black balloons and “over the hill.” As I near my 50th birthday, there is a tendency to feel loss and regret.  True, I may have lost my youthfulness with its sureness and efficiency.  I am not as strong or quick as I once was. I no longer think I’m invincible; I know the things I cannot do and the dreams which will not come true.   My family has changed.  I’ve lost those sweet babies who have now grown into independent adults.  However it is my hope that with these losses come new opportunities and, dare I say, wisdom.  As I move forward, I will search for these opportunities as I build the second half of my life. I will explore the parts of me that I can be sure of and find new dreams I can pursue. I want my half century mark to be a time of celebration as I find my path on the other side of that hill. I write this, hesitantly and humbly, for myself; but you are welcome to share my coming of age journey.