In 2019, Amazon released the movie Otherhood starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette, and Felicity Huffman. The film explores the stage after motherhood, Otherhood, when you have to redefine your relationship with your children, friends, spouse, and most importantly, yourself.
The most important difference between being a mother-to-be and a father-to-be is a father-to-be attains dad status at birth. Naturally, men are involved with preparing for the baby to arrive. Most are hands-on getting the nursery ready, making changes to their health and life insurance and, saving money to provide for their little bundle’s well-being.
However, for women motherhood begins the moment the little plus sign appears in the pregnancy test. Once the OB/GYN confirms the happy news, we are in mommy mode. From prenatal vitamins, to eating properly for two during the nine months of gestation everything is centered around the baby.
After birth and the joy of bringing a healthy into the world, mothers are on duty. There is a real sense of the saying, a man works from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done. There’s the diaper changes, nursing, bottles, midnight feedings, fussiness, colic, and crying. The baby you love more than anything, is also your warden. It can feel like you will never sleep again. Then as quickly as it starts, it stops. The baby begins to sleep through the night, and you survived. Before you know it, they’re toddlers, and you’re coping with the terrible twos. Tantrums and little words like ‘no’ and ‘why’ lead to the battle of wills, which I am going to admit, feels like you have the short end of the stick.
It was then my father imparted some wisdom on me. He said to enjoy these times because little people have little problems that are easily solved. Big people have bigger problems that will feel like you went from an anthill to Mount Everest and Mount Kilimanjaro in your living room. My dad was right. Like many other moms, I weathered the stages, and all the drama, tears, angst, and joy. One of my proudest moments was watching my sons graduate from high school, a moment I know all moms can relate with. Then even though we prepared to meet the goal of raising our children to be productive, self-sufficient, well-rounded happy adults, many of us aren’t prepared for what life will look like after that time comes and the kids aren’t kids anymore.
Mom, I’m an adult
Whether it’s mom, I’m grown, or mom, I’m a grown-ass man or woman. While the phrase is correct, it will annoy the hell out of you at times. When they begin to explain things you already know as if you walked in straight out a glacier. Nevertheless, we have to adjust, and as the person who has been on the job as a mom since they were in utero, it isn’t easy to take a step back. You are on the sidelines for all of their decisions. Sometimes, they will ask for your opinion or advice, but they will pick and choose what information they share. There are just some things our children just don’t want to hear us say.
Now, there are moms whose kids feel free to share everything about their lives. They will call or drop by to talk and get their mom’s advice or opinion on the things happening in their lives. While this is great, it’s also something moms need to be mindful of. Having children that come to you for everything can be detrimental too. It’s wonderful to feel like an oracle in your kids’ lives, but there will come a time when they will need to deal with issues without mom putting her two cents in. So, whether you fall in the former or latter category, or somewhere in between, what can you do to make the transition to a healthy relationship with your adult children in the otherhood years?
Get into me time.
To be clear, this isn’t about being selfish. To be selfish is to lack consideration for others; while being concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. This is about selfness, which is taking the time to do things for yourself to reconnect with the woman you are outside of being a mom. That means rediscovering things you were interested in but put on the shelf. It could mean getting back on the corporate track. Or reviving a career in the arts as a performer and/or teacher. Go back to school and take the classes you wanted to in college, but didn’t because they didn’t line up with your major. If physical activity and exercise are your things, get into yoga, Pilates, or join a gym. Don’t forget to pamper yourself a little. Update your wardrobe. Ditch the soccer mom look for cute activewear, jeans, dresses, and pants. Show off your figure. Buy new foundation wear, and add some cute and sexy things to your lingerie draw that will make you feel pretty. A lot of moms sacrifice trips to the salon to have their hair professionally colored, highlighted, blown-out, or cut to save money. Leave the shampoo and conditioner in your bathroom cabinet and make regular appointments. Get your makeup, or nails done. Hire a glam-squad for special occasions, and learn some tips to up your day-to-day makeup game. Remember that it’s okay to do something for yourself on a regular and not sporadic basis.
Don’t forget “we” time
If you’re married or in a relationship, starting dating each other again. Granted the Covid-19 pandemic had us spending more time with one another than we thought was possible, but take a step back to make it feel new again. Start with going to dinner alone. Get back to the kind of conversations that attracted you to each other in the first place. It’s easy to lose sight of that after years of being mom and dad. Add a little accelerant to the fire that brought you together in the first place. Do fun activities together. Take a day trip. Go on a road trip, or make plans to travel outside the country. Whatever it is, get back to being a part of a couple. Share thoughts, feelings, and goals. Reaffirm being each other’s first-mate for life.
You Gotta Have Friends
Never forget your other partners in crime, your friends. Good friendships can help guide you through this new period in life. Whether it’s through regular calls throughout the day or maybe a regular meetup for coffee, drinks, or lunch, spend time with your friends. Having good friends to talk, joke or cry with is healthy. We need the exchange of energy and it’s good for all of us.
What about the kids?
It’s important to note that childhood in all its phases only lasts for a short time. The fact is we’ll spend more time with our children as young adults and adults. This is a great time to get to know more about them as they go through other milestones such as going to and graduating from college, getting their first real job, moving into a first apartment, dating, getting married, and having a family of their own. It’s an exciting time in life to share with them. Take advantage of it.
It’s possible to redefine yourself and your life beyond motherhood. Take the time to get to know yourself and if you’re still in the trenches with younger children, be sure to carve out a little selfness time. The transition into the motherhood doesn’t have to be hard or something to fear. Embrace it as you have other challenges and changes in your life. You’ll feel happier and healthier emotionally and physically.
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