I rarely devote posts to personal musings but I just had to today.
We just dropped off our twenty-seven year-old son at the bus station as he makes his way back to New York after a week at our home. He was granted an unexpected vacation from his job as a preschool teacher and was longing for some peace and quiet, away from small children, the noisy city and his very busy life.
One of the toughest aspects to me of being a mother are these comings and goings. My husband and I enjoy our quiet life post-children so it’s always an adjustment having them back in the house. It’s worth the adjustment because I love being with both of my grown children, sharing in their lives, talking about their problems and their dreams.
Every sacrifice I ever made as a mother with regards to sleep, my body, my career and my art I would make again in a heartbeat. The love and companionship of a child, even a grown adult child, fills a very special place in my life.
And, after every visit I grieve. The child goes back to his or her life and I go home and have a good cry. It seems that, at least for that moment, nothing will console me.
It is then that I turn to a book, usually about Louisa. This time it was My Heart is Boundless: Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa’s Mother edited by Eve LaPlante. I guess, instinctively, I needed to read about another mother’s love and commitment to her children.
In no time I lost myself in the past, reading letters from Abba to her brother Sam and his wife Lucretia about the birth of Anna Bronson Alcott. The lines she wrote of her euphoria at having a healthy baby girl, and the subsequent letters detailing the joy she felt in being a mother to this child really spoke to this mother’s heart. Soon I felt consoled.
One of the greatest gifts of my life is this newfound love of reading, writing and studying the life of Louisa May Alcott. It began as a means of finding others who also loved Louisa and grew into something far more. It is a source of great joy, deep fulfillment and a means of discovering the validity of my own creative expression.
For the first time in my fifty seven years, I have fully embraced the creative in me. Rather than fight with it or run away from it or even dread it, I now revel in it. It often feels like a long drink of cool water after too much time out in the sun. It is deeply satisfying.
It has taken me eight years to adjust to being an empty nester and I’m sure I will continue to suffer setbacks. But reading, writing and studying Louisa May Alcott fills the void to overflowing.
I shed my tears missing my son. Two hours later I am writing this after enjoying time with one of the world’s great mothers, Abigail May Alcott.
Life is good.
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