It has been a strange few months around these parts.
The Christmas season is always a poignant one for an immigrant at the best of times – torn between two cultures, living in one country while your extended family celebrates together in another, however this past Christmas celebration held particular significance for my husband and myself. It was the Christmas where we really knew that family life for us had changed – that we were well and truly in the midst of our journey through midlife.
To be honest, we’ve probably held on to our family unit way longer than most. With children in their 20s and still living at home due to being students or because they were saving madly to try and get a toe-hold in the crippling Auckland house market, we knew that we were on borrowed time before our little family of four was no longer under the same roof. So when our son announced that he had been offered a job in Australia – we were both excited for him and saddened. Yes, we would miss him, but even more so, we would miss “us.” Our noisy, imperfect, messy, fiercely loyal and hot-blooded Italian / Australian, New Zealand residing gang of 4.
I tried my best to hang on to our family traditions, but when I couldn’t even get the two kids in the same country on the same day in December to put the Christmas tree up like we had as a family for the previous 25 years, I knew that I had two choices. I could mourn what was, or embrace what is – and I feel that this is a huge part of navigating this season of midlife in general.
In the incredible worldwide tribe of women over at Fabulous Midlife Babes, heartfelt stories are shared regularly of women who have children on the other side of the world with grandchildren that they have only met online; women who are battling illness or who live with chronic pain; women who no longer have partners and are learning to walk a new path alone; women who are watching parents suffer and pass away. Some are burdened by and struggling with the”now” that they face in their lives, whereas others seem to be able to accept what now is. There is no right or wrong in being in either place as we all deal with grief, suffering and change in differing ways. What I have noticed though, is those who have chosen to accept “what is” rather than being overwhelmed with mourning of “what was” are the women that tend to be the more active and supportive contributors to the group.
Even though their present situation is not what they once had, these women hold a key to navigating the journey of midlife, and that is simply HOPE. Hope that the future will be better even if different to what has gone before. Hope that love and laughter and adventure still awaits when life is not what it once was. Hope that this second half of life can be even more significant than the first.
So to my fellow travellers on the journey through midlife, I wish for you today an abundance of hope to encourage and comfort you along the way.