James Joyce used to call them “Epiphanies”: sudden revelations in which objects of common life become “revealing” of a deeper world. A ray of sun, a cloth left on a table, a missed train; the more irrelevant the objects are, the more explosive and relevant is the awakening. It is a sacred moment, an explosion of old reminiscences that arise to initiate a change after being kept inside for a long time.
This can happen anytime, anywhere. You just have to listen, or “see”, properly.
It happened to me one sunny morning. We live in a nice little house not far from the sea. Some days the air is so clear that you can see the mountains in the distance, while aircraft and birds draw their outlines in the blue sky. I often go out when the weather is like that, to drink my coffee and enjoy the morning peacefully before all the action starts, before the children rush out to live their personal slice of the day: secondary school the eldest, primary school my second one, and, of course, a long day at work for me and my husband.
I was wandering around in the garden, sipping my coffee and thinking, well not really thinking, just “mesmerising” and while I was tearing some weeds out of the grass, my attention was captured by a little red ball under the hedge, one of those toddler toys my kids used to play with when they were really small. It had probably been there since then.
An unexpected feeling of anguish started to leak out of my soul, like a giant tear, as if I were made of ice and I was suddenly melting. I was overwhelmed by this sensation. All that time had elapsed, and those days seemed so far away: “are we over all that, already?” My role as nurturer and caregiver was done. I felt old all of a sudden. I still can’t find proper words to describe the blue twister needling me. I sat on the bench and had a little cry. I was trying to clear up my mind: I was upset for myself, not for the days gone by and not because I was missing the past either. I love my two troublemakers exactly as they are right now, starting to be proudly independent. So what was it?
It was me who I was bumping in, it was me missing myself, after all those years and even if I had always been around, there had not been much time to find me. Maybe the most corresponding sensation is the one you feel after doing something really fulfilling, that absorbs you completely, and when it disappears, you don’t know what to do. That little red ball represented my “Epiphany”, I didn’t know it was waiting for me, but my new self popped out from my memories, to take me by the hand and make that little step forward.
Things can be handled well from both sides. Every age of motherhood is good, the one that devours your energies, or sleep, but gives you back so much joy while taking care of your loved ones, and this new one here, this midlife turning point, when there’s less demand of caregiving and more need of being a good example for them and being real to yourself, that’s the moment when you finally have back your young soul to fill up with love, opportunities and culture.
… For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite. And He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far… (Your Children – Poem by Khalil Gibran)