Monday, December 8, 2014

Yearning to be Free at 50

Dance like no one’s watching, Brene Brown advises, sing! Who cares what others think?

Most of us want to take off our “game face” and let our true selves emerge. Never is this more true than in middle age when we are rediscovering who we are, what we love, our passions, our interests, our beliefs, our long held, subterranean goals.

This yearning to be free grow stronger after the death of a beloved parent, one we wanted to impress.  Or the departure of our children, to lead their own lives.

They are free. Why shouldn't we be free too? Why shouldn't we lead the life we want? Be who we want? Act how we want?

And yet something holds us back.

Even if we have successful cleared all the emotional, material and cultural barriers to existing as our true selves, mothers have one last hurdle to overcome: the disapproval or discomfort of our children.

Take, for example, hair. Maybe you want to let your hair go grey? Or to dye it jet black?

In their child-centric universes – the one we created btw – even this very personal and for some agonizing decision impacts them.  (How will they feel to have an old-looking or fake young looking Mom?) And they imagine they have the right to weigh in.

Or say you want to try to dress sexy. Or much older than you usually do. Or dance in public.
What is stopping you? These are all perfectly legal activities. You have every right.

What about more controversial or risky activities?  Hang-gliding for example, Falling in love. Political action. Dabbling with drugs. Reading trashy novels. Or reviving a passion for sewing?

Why let anyone mock our enthusiasms?

We long for our children’s love and approval just as they long for ours. 
But now the tables are turned.
They are ascendant, we fading; our stars passing each other in the heavens before that long dark night. And just as our new selves are struggling to be born, their new selves are struggling to be born. We have always defined ourselves in opposition to each other, and none more than that part of ourselves than grows outside us, independent and separate from ourselves. It is our light. We shine in its caressing luminescence. As it shines in ours.

The umbilical: it runs both ways, from us to them and them to us. For each of us to be free, each of us must be free. 

The umbilical: it must be cut.


about the author:

Mabel Albright is a retired doctor and the mother of seven children. She lives in Frankfort, Kentucky but is thinking of moving to a one bedroom apartment. She is currently working on a novel.


  1. You have such an interesting blog. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your posts. All the best for your future blogging journey.