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Jewish Journal

Motherhood, Working, Exhaustion, Dreaming & Dating

by Ilana Angel

May 30, 2014 | 7:21 am

Being a mother is my greatest joy. It gives me more happiness and stress than anything I have done in my life. I'm a very hands on mom and wouldn’t have it any other way. I've been involved in my son’s life in a way that makes me proud of myself. I have attended every performance, been on every field trip, was a room mom, grade mom, and an invested and opinionated volunteer. I've had a front row view of this child’s life and it is my most fulfilling accomplishment.

I have worked since my son was born and while it had challenges, it was my life and he came first. My employers knew I was a single mom and would need flexibility with my schedule. For 18 years I have been defined as a mother first, and been blessed with employers who allowed me to work around my son’s schedule. I took him to school everyday, picked him up everyday, and never missed an event at school or extra-circularly. I prioritized my boy over everything.

In the end things are exactly how they are meant to be. I am strong, wise, and doing fine. I did my job and did it well. Motherhood is a job. It is work that requires focus, stamina, and commitment. You receive no money, but instead are paid in unimaginable ways that provide you with a wealth of memories and buckets of joy. I have never been so happy as I have been as a mom. I have also never been as exhausted. I am tired. Not tired of the job, just tired.

It is not just about sleeping, although that is a big part of it. It is more about being emotionally exhausted. I have been watching over my child’s life for 18 years. Now that he is graduating high school and taking steps into adulthood, I'm a little lost about what my role is. The worry of that is making me very tired. My job is evolving and I'm not ready. I feel like I'm being asked to change my job after it took me 18 years to get really good at it, and that seems unfair.

I need to sleep more. Always have. As my son gets older however, I sleep less. I used to think that as he grew up I would sleep more because there would be less to worry about. Wrong. There is actually more to worry about. He is driving, which changes everything as I'm always waiting for him to get home safe. The time spent waiting use to be for worrying, but now is for dreaming. I dream about the future, his and mine. We all want our kids to have a better life than our own.

I want my son to find success professionally and personally. I want him to love deeply and respectfully. I want him to never struggle for money or the respect of his peers. I want him do what is right for him, not what he thinks is right for me. When I was young I used to dream about being a mother.  As a mother I dream about dancing at my son’ s wedding, holding his babies, and having him want to pass on my traditions to his own kids. My dreams are wrapped up in this boy.

Tonight is my son’s prom and I cannot believe this day has finally arrived. He will be at parties all weekend, then graduation next week. It is exciting and amazing. I am proud of him, and frankly proud of myself. I have raised a wonderful young man, and he in turn has given light to the path of my life. When we take pictures tonight I will cry. I know it, and he knows it, and there is no point in denying it. He is going to take the world by storm and I can’t wait to see it.

With the transition of his life, I must transition mine. I don't want to spend my life alone. I don’t want to be the mother that sits around and waits for her kid to come home. I want to build a life that will make me happy, while showing my son I am okay and he need not worry about me. That he worries about me is sweet and speaks volumes on who he is as a human being. I am proud he cares so much about his mom, but it is my job to worry and set him free.

I need to date with a different perspective. I want to be fulfilled in many ways. I need for my mind, heart, and body to be stimulated. I don’t need to be wined and dined, as much as I need someone to invest time. It is easy to go to bed with someone, but hard to find someone you want to wake up with. I want to be with a man I can talk to about things. I want a man who shares his opinions and ideas without judging mine. I want a man who cares about things.

I date men who are emotionally unavailable, or unclear on what they want. I am too old for that now. I want a partner who wants to share a life and a bed, not a man who is immature or unstable in a way that only wants me until something else comes along. I want a man who can focus on our life, not be distracted like a cat watching a laser light. To find that man I need to start listening. Men tell us who they are and as we women we need to start paying attention.

I had a date last night with an interesting man. He does not look like men I have dated in the past, but I was attracted to him in a way that surprised me. I cannot tell you what he looked like, or what he was wearing, but I could tell you about his life, his views on faith and love. I could tell you about his kids, his passion, and his dog. He is funny, charming, mellow, aware, articulate, and smart. He understands sarcasm and gives good banter.

It is the first good date I’ve had in a long time. When dating you can’t help but compare the person you are out with to your past relationships, but I tried hard to not do that. He is not like any of the men I have dated, and it turns out that is a good thing. He is new and I need to discover him, not compare him. Listen, it has been one date, but when dating, one good date matters. We will go out again, and it will be nice. The fact is that at this stage of my dating life, nice is good.

I am 48 years old, my son is grown and finding his way, and I am ready for something else. Ready to sleep more and worry less. Ready to listen closer and breathe deeper. I want to embrace my son’s dreams, and expand my own.  I am a very smart girl, but need to start making wiser decisions in terms of my emotional and physical wellbeing. I have earned the right to take care of myself and my time is now. I am hopeful, excited, and keeping the faith.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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