Since May is Mothering Month, I intend to post a diverse array of articles for the rest of the month, about and for mothers.
For the first time in history, large numbers of women of our generation, especially those with careers, deferred starting a family until we were in our late thirties and forties. Births to women between the ages of forty and forty-four increased seventy-one percent between 1990 and 1999.
Consequently, today many of us are still very much occupied in the Mother mode when we reach our peri/menopausal years. Our hormonal changes (a decline of estrogen and progesterone needed for reproduction and an increase of androgens, which stimulate our assertiveness) produce a visceral withdrawal from and disinterest in mothering that is often at odds with the requirements of our parenting responsibilities. Our priority shifts from the desire to attend to the needs of others, to the imperative drive to address our own. This can result in a poignant interior push pull.
One of the women I interviewed, Saundra, a fifty-eight-year-old psychotherapist with a sixteen-year-old son, was extremely articulate about her conflicting emotions. She told me that though she adores her child, there is just something primal, deep within her, that recoils at having to shower all of her nurturing attention on him when she is so desperately drawn to care for herself. “Where is your mother?” she teases him when she is most resentful (and, needless to say, extremely guilty about it). “It’s not me, babe. No, no, no. It’s not me you’re looking for, babe.”
For older mothers, especially, it is crucial to keep nurturing our own dreams, even as we support our kids in developing their own. Quality Mommy Time is more essential now than ever — both for us and also for our kids — as we navigate our hormonal shifts. Remember: Ain’t no one happy unless Mom is happy!
Here are three websites of special interest to midlife moms:
Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She is the Midlife Midwife™ offering counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.
Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™: http://www.donnahenes.net/queen/consult.shtml
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.