By Amanda Cleary Eastep
My 18-year-old and I lay in the grass taking Instagram selfies (which I liken to showing vacation “slides” to the entire world).
This youngest daughter returned to my arms recently after five months away, two of those in N. Africa. She wanted to show off her armpit hair, which is not nearly as impressive as it was last year when we finally convinced her it would ruin her brother’s wedding.
“C’mon, Mama, show your pits.”
It was enough for me to be lying prone with no makeup beneath the unforgiving light of the setting sun and wondering how stepping out onto yet another social media platform would benefit my writing career.
“I can’t show my armpits, I’m trying to build a business.”
I posted this photo (sans pits) with the hashtag wholemama, a cool initiative started by one of my favorite writers, Esther Emery.
Most of the women who gather beneath the #wholemama tent for Twitter parties and Fuze meetings are young moms. With three grown kids and five stepkids, I’m about 20+ jumps to the right of these women on the number line.
But there I am, finding community online. Not quite like the days of sitting in the backyard with my best friend watching our little girls argue and admonishing them to “use their words” to “figure it out.”
My elder daughter assures me she will always have her divot in the couch cushion, while my psychologist son diagnoses me with empty nest syndrome and something that ends in “ism” or “obia.”
Maybe so. Maybe as a mother you don’t feel quite as whole any more when your favorite appendages decide to do crazy things like travel to Africa or go to college or get married. Whatever.
And maybe you feel exposed, too.
I recently noticed the back of my arms in a dressing room mirror while trying on my mother-of-the-groom gown and promptly scurried home to start curling bulk-sized cans of baked beans. All that gray hair they say you “earned”? I would rather have earned a tighter butt.
You’re left wondering who you are now in this final transition from Mommy to Mother. Less like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a cocoon and more like a vulnerable cicada leaving its mirror-image hard shell clinging to some brick in the wall.
But those things have wings, too. They unfurl and extend them just like a butterfly, testing their strength and the breeze before taking off in a new direction.
Next post in the series: When Your Power Ain’t So Super, Woman