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  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

Mothering at Mid-Career: Another passage
April 25, 2011 - 9:10pm

I loved Susan O’Doherty’s blog post on the rite of “passagio” that she’s going through right now as her son gets ready to move on. I, too, am familiar with the transition from chest voice to head voice, and have been through a couple of similar passages myself. In our case, we’ve already gotten used to having a daughter in college — sort of. I have a feeling, though, that just like that chest voice/head voice transition, it’s something we’ll be paying attention to as long as she’s in college. She’s independent — sort of — and that requires a different set of parenting skills than the ones we honed over the eighteen years she lived at home. But it’s been fun figuring it all out, mostly, and right now things seem pretty good.

The last week or two have been busy and filled with passages. My semester is almost over—all but the grading. We move into the busy month of May now, with a couple of faculty development workshops that I’m leading and another that I’ll be participating in. It will be interesting to shift gears, from authority figure to facilitator to participant — or, from teacher to co-participant to learner. All are good, but they require different skills and exercise different muscles, some of which I may not have used in a while.

Meanwhile my son’s last spring break as a middle-schooler is over. We’ve gone with him to choose his courses for the fall, and watched as he also signed up for all kinds of brand new activities. Art club made sense, given his interests, but German club? Well, yes, if he takes German, as he plans to, that might make sense. Cross country? Sure, why not — even if he’s never been a runner. He’s entering a new phase, and he’s going to try on some new identities while he’s at it. My job seems to be to remain open to the new identities while trying to head off any potential disasters. Or something like that.

While Nick still has about six weeks of school left, Mariah is finishing up her sophomore year and has a couple of opportunities this summer that are still up in the air. We’re learning to live with up in the air, too — both she and her dad have been exploring new opportunities and things are still uncertain right now. So the “passagio” may take a while. I think Sue has it right, though: it’s time to focus, make a choice, and hang in there in the knowledge that we’ll get to someplace a little more secure — eventually.


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