Sadness. We all experience it – hopefully, only occasionally. I’ve been feeling it exponentially lately and trying so hard to focus on all the good things in my life, of which there are so many. But this morning, as I skimmed through my Instagram feed, I came across a post by a friend in which she talked about pain and dealing with it. Her conclusion is the conclusion I know all too well but for some reason had forgotten: you just have to feel pain and sadness to get through it. So instead of trying to write a post that’s all sunshine and rainbows, which is what I’ve been trying to do for days, I’m just gonna feel my sadness and turn it into words. You lucky readers!
I’ve recently returned to work after taking 19 years “off” to raise my kids. Being back in the classroom feels both completely comfortable and utterly exhausting. I was 30 the last time I taught full-time, and at 49, there’s a big difference in energy level even if you’re totally fit and healthy. I’m sad that I don’t have the 23 years of experience (and payment into a retirement system) that I’d have had I made different choices. I’m starting all over as a middle-aged woman. I recognize that I’m fortunate to have my education, certification, and actual jobs to go to as a substitute teacher; however, the tinge of regret I feel about my situation on a daily basis will not subside.
My daughter leaves for college in two days. I am tearing up as I type that. She has been such a light in my life for 18 years, such company to me these past 5 years especially, such a joy. I am incredibly excited for her to expand her life and learn who she is and what she wants. I am going to miss her terribly though. People can tell you what it will feel like when your children leave, but like everything else about parenthood, you don’t really know until you experience it yourself. I realize this is good sadness, healthy sadness, but it’s sadness nonetheless.
My kids’ dad & I started planning residential time for the holidays yesterday, and every year, that discussion always makes me melancholy. My son is the one who visits at his dad’s house (my daughter still has no interest in being around the affair partner, whom her dad lives with), and this year, my son will not be with me for both Thanksgiving and his birthday. In 15 years, I have never had to spend his birthday away from him, and this is hitting me hard. When I had children, I never planned on having to send them elsewhere ever, and while I know his dad loves him and he is perfectly happy and content to go, it’s always hard for me on special occasions. It is something I will never get used to.
Some days, I wake up and look around and say to myself, “How the hell did I get here?” I’ve been having those days much too frequently lately. Maybe it’s just this phase of life – the middle part – where you’ve either established all you’ve wanted and are enjoying it, or you’re rebuilding what you or someone else has obliterated. “They” say that life satisfaction dips in middle age and then resurges in your 60’s. I try to keep a positive attitude and count my blessings. I know I have many.
But for today, I’m just going to be sad.