Look into my crystal ball…
Monday, February 16, 2026. My 50th birthday. I’m standing at the bathroom mirror getting ready for… For what? I don’t know. The girls are 22 and 19 now, both away at college. They already each called me early this morning to wish me a happy birthday, a family tradition. I told the older one that I’d received the flowers she and her boyfriend had sent. I could almost hear her blushing over the phone as she told me they were his idea. The younger one still sounded half-asleep as she spoke, and I told her she could call me back later that day so we could talk. She yawned her thanks and I’m not even sure she was still awake as the phone hung up.
One girl ten months away from her Bachelor’s, the other six months into her first year at school.
I have an empty nest.
I think about the conversation The Husband and I had just the night before. “We can probably get rid of the minivan now,” he’d said. “We probably could’ve gotten rid of it after Li’l Bit started driving herself, you know.” I wrinkled my nose. “Didn’t you always want a Mustang?”
Did I? I can’t even remember. I narrow my eyes at the reflection in the mirror and try to remember the things I wanted before I immersed myself in Mommyhood. Before socializing with friends my age was replaced by attending parties with the girls, PTA meetings, dance classes and recitals, soccer practices and games. Didn’t I like photography? But what was there to take pictures of other than the girls? Didn’t I write? Who had time?
The phone rings and shakes me from my self-examination. It’s The Husband. “Did you get my card?” he asks. I tell him I did, and thank him for the gift certificate. Sweet gesture. Same one for the past 15 years, but that’s okay. It’s the thought that counts. If having it marked on the Outlook calendar so his assistant will remind him a month beforehand is considered thought. I sigh and remind myself to cut him a little slack, he’s a busy guy. It took him a lot of hard work to get to where he’s at, and it takes even more to keep him there.
I head out to the kitchen and squint at the calendar. A hair cut appointment for me this week (cut and color, it took 40 years but the greys did find me), a trip to the eye doctor for The Husband. No more lessons or scrimmages. Gone are the fundraisers and youth parent meetings.
“It’s been six months since she started school,” The Husband had said. “You could get a job, or start volunteering somewhere other than a school. Take a photography course or something. I don’t think you could possibly get the house any cleaner.”
It’s all so easy for him to say. He still plays softball. It’s on the Over 40 team, but he still plays. He golfs. He’s still able to take his dad out for fishing once in a while. Somehow, he still has a life.
I feel like my life is split 200 or 100 miles away.
The Husband said that he felt like I was miles away from him, too. That brought tears to my eyes.
Where have I gone? Where have I gone? When was it that I let myself get away? After this long, is it possible to find ME? To reconnect with the man who I allowed to only fill the role of Daddy to our girls? Can I still be Wife? Can I still be Woman? Didn’t I start there once? Can I get there again?
Could I have avoided having to ever ask these questions at all?