Finding Purpose and the Roles We Adopt.

There have been some big changes in my life of late. General changes, mostly, which you'd expect in life, but it can become overwhelming when they all coincide and you expected a more gradual adjustment.

As my daughters take their first steps into adulthood and their own lives, I thought I'd be facing it with my husband by my side, but the economic situation has taken him so far away in his work that we only see him at weekends and then for barely more than a day. Then peri-menopause (or stress symptoms very similar) has also chosen this time to start setting in, leaving me realising that I'm going to have to accept the fact that I'm entering my cronehood. The other day a friend sent me this message when I expressed that this was something I needed to adjust to:

“Change is our biggest constant, part of the issue with women is we get so caught up with being what everyone needs us to be that we forget what we wanted to be when we grew up. I can’t even remember anymore as my dreams became the role to support others reaching theirs. I wonder if you are in a similar position. Then add the reduction of oestrogen and our bodies and brains faltering at an increasing rate and we then lose our confidence as well.
It’s not a negative, just means we have to be better at reminding ourselves of our greater purpose and ask ourselves what do we want, we also need to put ourselves first at times when it is uncomfortable for others.”

Probably not surprisingly, all this has gotten me thinking of something I came across a while back on the Maiden-Mother-Crone in pagan religions. I'm not a feminist, nor a big advocate of traditional roles, however, I do recognise the fact that we can't always help falling into certain roles.

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Growing up, life is about learning, so it makes sense that a lot of importance is put onto education. The goal of education these days, of course, is working towards employment. I guess this is where the idea of dreams comes in. We're asked what we want to be when we grow up. If we don't really have an idea, then the pressure is on that we should have and if we do have ideas then we can often be discouraged from them as being unachievable. Does this help to steer us towards falling into stereotyped roles?

I'd originally wanted to be a vet for many years, but the feedback I received on the school qualifications I'd need wasn't very supportive. It seemed like the assumption was that my grades wouldn't be good enough. I took the hint and started training in childcare. A term in, after my first work experience placements, I realised I wasn't going to enjoy this and tried moving over to fashion design; something I still have an interest in. I entered the course part way through, felt completely lost and had no idea what my goal was supposed to be. On top of that was the overwhelming impression that this wasn't really something I could make a living in, because there weren't really many jobs in this industry, so I quit that too. I spent some time on jobseekers allowance while I tried to unsuccessfully find unskilled work.

By the start of the next school year I'd determined that I needed some form of further education. I enrolled in English and German A levels, because those were the subjects I'd graded best in at school, and supplemented them with dance and Spanish GCSEs (dance was my dream one) and some office skills. Many of the classes started out full and some dwindled to only a few students by the end, namely dance and German. At times I hated that commute to college, but was determined not to give up and complete it this time. I'm not sure how, but once I'd completed the subjects I fell into an apprenticeship as a hotel receptionist via the college. I completed one year before I changed to a manufacturing job for the better income (a mistake in hindsight).

I met my husband to be when I was 17 and we saved to buy a house, which we did when I was 21. At that point I took on the role of housewife. I still worked, but I was the lower earner, in an unskilled job in a factory. I was usually the first one home, so I would do the cooking and cleaning.

At 25 I became a mother. Now I had another person to be responsible for and two years later another baby joined our family.

I'd often feel something of a failure for not having a career, but gradually accepted that my role as a mother was also important, so I guess this is how I came to define my worth. This is probably also why seeing my motherhood role coming to a close has left me feeling like my usefulness is coming to an end.

It's not that I have nothing I am capable of doing or wanting to do, more that these things aren't really valued in today's society and don't bring an income. In another age, I would have likely transitioned to being a grandparent as I finished raising the last of my children, but what roles do the middle aged to elderly really have these days?

At one point an elder would have been a teacher, passing on skills and knowledge to the next generation. These days few youngsters even want to hear what the elderly have to say. With just two words, “okay boomer,” people are putting a divide between the generations and there seems to be a general view of the elderly not being useful contributors to society. Even my own daughter will sometimes show exasperation for what she feels is me clinging to obsolete ways which have no place now in our modern society.

I'm still trying to find my role and with the current events happening across the world it may still not end up being a role of my own choosing, but more an adaptation to what we need to survive moving forwards in a world that's likely never going to be quite the same as the one I grew up in.

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 8 months ago 

A century ago life skills didn't change so quickly.
A lifetime of learning a craft made one valuable as a teacher.
Times are changing fast, though. My job didn't exist 10 years ago, for example; so my grandfather wouldn't be much help.
Wisdom doesn't change, but that's a lot harder to quantify; and doesn't look valuable except to those who have it.

I am trying to phrase this in a way that doesn't come off wrong, but I am finding it hard. All I can say is that as a stay at home dad in a very traditional society, I can relate somewhat to your experiences and I have the most respect for you. I really understand what it's like to lose yourself (who you are, or think you are) in responsibilities. I find some comfort in knowing that the person I am is being installed into the children I am raising (some good some bad) but it's something I think about when I feel lost and alone. Weeks can go by without having a real conversation with the woman I love because we are so involved in everyone else. We can recognize this and cut each other a lot of slack when we are stressed. I hope that things will calm down and you get more time with your husband.

For the traditional roles thing from my experience let me say that no one can ever replace the love and compassion of a mother. If I was the best dad in the world I still would be light-years away from the mother my wife is. I cannot speak for the future but that is how I see it now.

Wishing you the best!

Regarding what you say about mothers, my father has expressed similar. Interestingly he is also ex military and with regards roles, transitioning from military life must give you another insight again, with it being so different to civilian life. I certainly think it must have been a big part of my father's identity at the time.

This was a rather powerful collection of words. Thank you for sharing. I don't have much insight to share.

I'm a big fan of cause and effect, and like your friend stated - change is the only constant - but the other thing about that is, we can't have tomorrow without today.

Today can influence what tomorrow will bring.

While our influence dwindles as time drags on, there's still the ability to change the future.

Yes, change is a constant, for better or worse. It's not always easy to adapt, unless it's of your own choosing.

Manually curated by ackhoo from the Qurator Team. Keep up the good work!

They still play the same role as far as I'm concerned.

My kids tried the "okay boomer" thing with us because they'd heard other people on Youtube etc using it and it was fun and catchy, and then rebelliously continued trying after we tore them to shreds (nicely of course) and now they're smart enough not to say it around us if they're still saying it.

And as for your daughter showing exasperation about your completely irrelevant skills and knowledge, well don't you remember doing the same thing at that age only to deeply regret your sheer bloody minded self righteous idiocy later on? XD

Or is it just me x_x

I actually didn't do that at her age, but my sister (and I'm sure many others) did. Maybe that's why I find it hard to deal with, because I know I'd never dismiss people like that and I guess I thought the children I raised would show a similar respect. Yes, more fool me...hey, would you stop giving me self revelations!

So, how did yout tear them to shreds? Do share. 😈

Wow you really are a good person :O

Well the first "shred" which was when they tried that on J and we informed them that J is actually GenX and I'm actually apparently Millenial (which was news to me), aka maybe they better not throw things around like they know what they're talking about because someone that does might just point it out and make them look stupid XD

Then letting them know that they just insulted their beloved grandparents because you can't make exceptions when you're making broad sweeping statements like that.

And then pointing out that ageism is a thing and that they're as bad as all the racists and sexists blah blah blah that they are really very extremely much against.

And then they kept going for a while in an attempt to maintain their pride and then I haven't really heard it since.

The End.

XD

Oh, well played!

My eldest tells me in not far off being a millennial, which was also news to me. I figured that anyone born to a boomer was automatically a gen X, then gen X's children would be gen Y (or millennial as they are apparently now known). Seriously, why do they dwell on this stuff so much? I'm pretty sure we never did.

Maybe because we had/cared less about labels previously? Before Joe had the autistic label he was either weird and possibly deserving of contempt or a quirky individual that wasn't very sociable but the most amazing book keeper depending on whether "you" were an arsehole or not. Now we have a label for everything and if tumblr and dA are anything to go by some people seem to like collecting them XD

It seems that we are pretty much in the same boat when it comes to our children growing up, and our lives are no longer centered around them.
I know that you have probably heard this many times before, but being a mother is the toughest job one will ever have, if done right. The $$$ may not be great and the skill set doesn't require a college education, but the rewards of seeing our kids become independent productive citizens is worth all of the money in the world.
A mother will always be a mother, caring for and about their children until their last breath. When a crisis raises its ugly head or an ear is needed, who do our children turn to, us and especially to moms?
For us baby boomers, we may be slowing down and we may have a lot more aches and pains, but that comes with the territory.
Years ago while I was enjoying the company of some older gentlemen, one of them said something very simple which has stuck with me to this day.
He said, "You know what the alternative to not getting old is, don't you?"

It's funny how when our kids get older they think we get dumber!

That is funny. I guess there is the point where as a child you realise your parents aren't all knowing after all and maybe the dumbness level increases for them from then on. It's also true you don't learn as quickly as you get older and being up to date on the latest trends is no longer important...

Ah yes, the alternative to growing old... It's a high price to pay to be forever young.

Good day @minismallholding, what an honest and thought provoking article.

It is a real transitional time in every women's life. And it is not easy , besides the physical/hormonal changes in our bodies, but then empty nest syndrome creeps in and suddenly your crowded, busy home is quite.
Weird for a stay at home mom. I also stayed home, during the day, but worked 2nd or 3rd shift in health care as a radiographer part time, for many years.
Didn't get to see my hubby much, working all the time, but he always made it home in time to take over kid duty so I could work.
He and I are great partners...both retired now and living on our farm, a life long plan/dream of ours.

Don't ever underestimate how valuable time is, You my friend were lucky to have that time with your children. That was your career , you have so many skills, just tap into them, you may surprise yourself.

I totally agree with you..." an adaptation to what we need to survive moving forwards in a world that's likely never going to be quite the same as the one I grew up in."

Be well and have a blessed day.

I would love to retire to a homestead or small farm. I think it's more my dream than hubby's, though. I love that you both had the same dream.

Oh such kind words, we owned this farm for over forty years, and just lived here in the summer and came on Holiday breaks when the kids were out of school, as well as my husband, he was a teacher.
The place just grew on us, we liked the privacy and because we spent so my time here while we were still working, we knew the area and how to enjoy the country roads that lead to the stores and restaurants.

Our dream came true when we retired and moved here.
I am blessed.

Ah! Transitioning in the different stages of life!
My desire was always to grow old gracefully and i think I accomplished that! Changing and adapting to the many curve balls thrown your way and taking care of what is important to me but still being there for my loved ones!
I'm just reaching retirement age and I am actually looking forward to it!
This shut down with the pandemic is kinda giving me a good sneek preview of what it will be like for I work in the schools and they shut down!
Take care and embrace your crone-hood!

 8 months ago Reveal Comment