How I Took My Life Back After My Kids Left Home

by Chloe Jeffreys · 8 comments

in Aging Well, Health and Wellness, Women in Midlife

Me at 35

Once you’ve let your groove go for, say, several years, it just isn’t that easy to get back, I’m afraid.

Maybe if we women realized how hard it is to reclaim our groove once lost then we wouldn’t be so quick to let it go. But I know, in the consuming season of vigilant motherhood, the flurry of necessary domesticity and the subsequent exhaustion, that I’m not the first woman to lose her groove along the way.

And while getting your groove back isn’t that easy neither is writing about it, apparently. It has taken me so long to get back here because I’ve struggled and struggled between wanting to write something inspirational and telling the truth. I keep thinking that it should be easy to pound out some pithy, precious modern-day parable that would make me look great and leave readers with a little feel-good glow, but it hasn’t been. Not at all. I don’t have any easy, inspirational answers.

Sorry.

So, if you were hoping for some great spiritual inspiration here, you aren’t going to get it with this blog entry. Instead, I’ve decided to tell the truth, as far as it is my right to tell it, and leave the inspiration, if any is to be had, up to God.

In the days and weeks I’ve been waiting around to be inspired on what to write next, I’ve realized that my biggest problem with this blog series is that I don’t really even know what the story is that I’m trying to tell.

That sounds strange.

Of course, I know the story. I lived it. Hell, I’m still living it. But I don’t know what it means yet. To tell a story well one probably ought to understand it. I do not understand my story yet. So I can’t put a proper spin on it. All I can do is tell it and hope that through that I will get some understanding of what God is trying to show me.

Part of my fear is that the reader will see the message long before I do. I hate that. I always like to be the first to know something. But, as it is, I’m along for the ride with the reader.

The other thing is that I hate to be judged. Funny defect for someone who is writing about their personal life experiences out where people can judge it, huh? But the type of judging I hate the most is being judged for not being Christian enough. Knowing that is absolutely going to happen for some of my readers, rankles me, but it isn’t going to stop me. I am Christian enough. And someday maybe that will become crystal clear. But this isn’t the series of how I know I’m Christian enough. This is about getting my groove back and maybe you getting your groove back too. So without further delay, at least today, here’s the continuing story of my efforts to get my groove back.

Last I left you, I was headed back up the mountain with a bag full of new, but still modest, deaconly wife underwear and a head full of painful mulling. Things were not just so simple as buying a red bustier and letting the good times roll.

I still had two teenagers at home. One was on the brink of womanhood and needed sane guidance and one was beginning to give us fits by not listening to any guidance, sane or otherwise.

That I’d let it inadvertently slip out to the befuddled saleslady that I was a pompous, self-righteous ass was regrettable and even alarming, but the fact was I felt that everything I was doing I was doing for all the right reasons. The godly right reasons. And I’m not now saying I wasn’t either. I felt I was.

See, it just isn’t so easy.

I was doing many of the right things for the right reasons, and I was doing some wrong things for the right reasons, but I also was doing some right things for the wrong reasons, and I was doing some unnecessary things for God knows why?

And I was too confused to figure it out during one measly car drive home after a long day of shopping.

Mainly I was too scared of what was happening with my son, and I was too busy trying to be a righteous role-model for my daughter to take the time to really sit down and wonder about where I was going in my life. I truly felt like it was all up to me to turn this out well and I didn’t want to screw it up. I was very scared.

My own teenage years had been disastrous. And I didn’t pull out of it until 23 and by then I’d created an utter mess of my life in every conceivable way possible.

Desperate to keep my children from making those same mistakes I’d made, I was intent on my task at hand. Mothering. Being sober-minded and clear-headed, I endeavored to be a godly example of prudence and propriety to my children and that didn’t leave room in my little head for red bustiers. I was mothering with intent and resolve. And, to the best of my ability, I wasn’t going to mess them up.

But on the other hand, lost in the land of mothering and church work, where had I gone?

So on my drive home from underwear shopping, I assessed my life and where it could possibly be going. Would I ever wear red underwear again? Was it over for me? I was 42, out of shape, with a closet full of over-sized frumpy clothes. I had a husband who adored me, but I often was unavailable to him as I was so caught up in my own head games and my overwhelming fears regarding mothering and just life in general. Where once I’d been a vital woman with a vibrant sexuality, now I was just going through the motions much of the time in ugly, self-righteous underwear.

Also, my mind had become captivated by mediocrity. Day after day, my mind predictably ran down familiar paths that had become ruts. Deep comfortable ruts that didn’t include romance or romantic thoughts or even really deep thoughts on any topic most of the time. And frankly, I liked it that way. I liked my ruts and had no real desire to be free of them.

Well, not exactly.

Obviously something was wrong. The shrill and defensive feelings elicited in the dressing room had momentarily jarred me awake–I wasn’t quite what I was pretending to be and I knew it. But then, like now, I didn’t know what I knew. I only knew that I knew it.

The truth is, <strong>and I wouldn’t clearly see this for another 3 years</strong>, I had created this entire not-so-subconscious little fantasy deal between me and God wherein I surrendered my sexuality and myself to frumpery, homeschooling and a perfect home and, in return, He’d grant me my every motherhood wish: A Godly Legacy.

This wasn’t something I’d thought up on my own, by the way. This fantasy was fed and fomented by the homeschooling movement that promises perfect children to perfect parents.

Perfectionist that I am, I bought it hook, line and sinker.

Unfortunately, things weren’t going as well as they promised in the seminars. Not only were my children sprouting these minds of their own, BUT they were going to grow up and use those minds to go off and live their own lives.

My job of mom was going to end and then what? What was I going to do then? More children, either biological or adoptive, were out of the question. There was no putting it off; there was no evading it; motherhood, as an all-consuming endeavor, was going to end, and possibly badly (at this point, it was all just fear and speculation, but I definitely saw the dark and foreboding clouds looming large on the horizon with our son).

I’d poured all of my life into my mothering leaving nothing left for me. If my children didn’t fulfill my dreams, what then?

My children were my dreams. I felt like there was no me left.

Where was I?

<a href=”http://chloeofthemountain.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/sweating.jpg”><img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-1743″ title=”sweating” src=”http://chloeofthemountain.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/sweating.jpg” alt=”” width=”250″ height=”307″ /></a>

Something obviously had to change, but what? It had to be small and it had to be pragmatic. What one thing could I change without upsetting the delicate balance I’d created? And so I looked at the one thing under my control that I could change.

My body.

On my drive home I made one decision. My first step towards getting my groove back was making the painful decision to get back into my body.

Yes, I mean that in a metaphysical, New Agey way.

I was living in my head all the time.

I’d been treating my body the way a tourist in 19th CenturyChinamight treat their rickshaw driver. I’d let my body get flabby and gassy (which would be a bad trait in a rickshaw driver now that I think about it). Every year those little fat pads around my knees were getting dimplier and dimplier and my butt was hanging just a little lower.

At one time I had worked out regularly and been in quite good shape, but I’d let the practice go because I thought it was too selfish and a waste of my time. My diet wasn’t that terrible, but it wasn’t really good either.

I decided on the drive home that this one thing I would change. I was going to make myself get back into my body.

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John December 21, 2013 at 12:19 am

Your blogs aren’t dated. Are you still active as of December 2013?

Reply

Chloe Jeffreys December 30, 2013 at 7:46 am

I don’t date them because my posts are timeless. (and I’m kidding). Yes, I’m still active, more or less.

Reply

Robin July 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

Woman! I love your attitude. I love your honesty. I love that you're not my Emaiginary friend.Like Karen, I haven't actually lost my groove…but I sure do need your brand of encouragement.Hugs.Now I'm gonna go read the rest of your blog entries I've missed during my pseudo computer fast.

Reply

Robin September 2, 2009 at 9:33 am

>Woman! I love your attitude. I love your honesty. I love that you're not my Emaiginary friend.Like Karen, I haven't actually lost my groove…but I sure do need your brand of encouragement.Hugs.Now I'm gonna go read the rest of your blog entries I've missed during my pseudo computer fast.

Reply

peachuvamom August 6, 2009 at 4:22 am

>I'm still with ya, Chloe. Thanks for your honesty. I'm learnin'…. Gina (Peachuvamom)

Reply

Karen (KayKay) July 29, 2009 at 8:16 am

>Great job, Chloe. I haven't exactly lost my groove – but I'm afraid I've sort of lost myself. I'm in the process of re-discovery and sometimes it's really hard and really hurts. It helps to read about those who have gone before. Especially someone who gave themselves over in a similar way to their children and homeschooling and dreams of how it should be. Thanks for your honesty.

Reply

TexasHeather July 27, 2009 at 2:32 pm

>Chloe, I just want to say thanks for writing so honestly, about all the topics you cover. And as for whether you are Christian enough — well, you either are or you aren't, and I'm sure that if anyone questions you on that, you know Who to turn them towards. ((hugs))

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: