.....seem to be hovering about the blog world a bit at the moment, with Storyteller finally reading Don Quixote and Quotidian Grace discovering the joys of baseball. Their thoughts made me reflect on the way that my own attitudes have changed over the past few years. When I went to my first Selection Conference in 1999, one of the interviewers suggested rather disparagingly that the whole idea of a vocation to priesthood might be "nothing more than a mid-life crisis", and I was inwardly outraged. Midlife crises seemed inherently trivial,- all to do with men who ought to have more sense spending huge sums on inappropriate motorbikes and refusing to age with dignity.
Now, at the inescapably middle-age of 45, I see things a bit differently and "Mummy's mid life crisis" has become a family code for all sorts of exciting and interesting new things….
I think it’s all to do with having the confidence to be myself, and not some identikit middle class mother, loosely modelled on my own (who died, incidentally, when I was 18...so my version of her reality may well be a far cry from the truth).
I mostly wear the clothes I want to (give or take the vagueries of clerical attire) and don’t worry if they don’t conform to the expectations of my sisters in law.
I don’t feel uncomfortable about messing around with my hair colour (though I’ve not yet succumbed to the children’s suggestion of highlights in the liturgical colour of the season).
I’m even considering a tattoo on my heel (just writing the word would have brought me out in an allergic rash a few years ago).
What’s more, I've discovered that I DON’T only enjoy classical music, though I guess it’s still my major soul food. Nonetheless, my favourite birthday present this year was a CD mixed by Darling Daughter with music from U2, Oasis, Jeff Buckley, Dire Straits and more, - and she’s right, I enjoy all of them. A few years ago, if I’d read this of another middle aged mother, I’d have shaken my head and thought it was sad that she was trying to keep up with her teenagers…but it really doesn’t feel that way. It feels, rather, as if I’m finally growing into myself…and that self is more complicated (and possibly more interesting) than I would ever have thought possible.
So yes…my vocation is indeed an expression of my midlife crisis, but the whole crisis is more to do with coming home to myself than with hiding the realities of lost youth behind a veneer of youthful aspirations. I’m grateful to my children, who’ve taken me with them on voyages of discovery, and never assumed that just because I’m their mother I wouldn’t be interested in their emerging passions.
I’m grateful, too, to those friends who wouldn’t let me sit comfortably in my little box, but challenged me to come out to play.
And to Greenbelt, the place where most of all I feel at home, free to be me.
And above all to God who is leading me on new adventures every day…
Crisis! What crisis? I’m having a ball