This article was submitted by Eileen Chijoff, a PhD student in the School of Food Science.
Recently, I caught myself referring to my two sons as ‘my children’. It felt strange because, the reality is, I’m a parent of offspring who are in their late teens, transitioning into adulthood. When they were young, it was natural to use the word ‘children’ as a term of reference in my conversations, but over the years, its usage has become less and less frequent. When the word unconsciously slipped out, I suppose out of habit, the strangeness in using it made me realise that certain aspects of my parenthood had come to an end. And, more importantly, that the time had come where I could dare to revisit an old self-concept. Life as a free agent.
In the thick of the child rearing years, the responsibilities of managing, coordinating, scheduling and facilitating my family unit, not to mention the additional hands-on labour, influenced how I conducted my day-to-day activities. It was a life of routine, and self-indulgence had its perils. Even little things like a sleep-in on a cold and rainy Sunday morning came with the risk of frantically trying to dry wet uniforms on the Monday.
It became second nature to consider how my personal choices would impact other members of my family. My concept of self during those years was influenced by the demands of raising children. That’s not to say that individuality didn’t exist – as long as that individual identity had an element of caretaker/provider in its makeup.
Now, the demands of parenthood have diminished for my husband and me. We know that it will take a few years for our sons to completely transition to full independence, but providing them a roof to live under, connection to utilities and services, food in the pantry, and a bit of guidance or advice, when requested, is not that taxing. In fact, I’m really enjoying the dynamic of our household of four adults. It has this kinship, community feel about it. So no, reverting back to a self-concept of free agent is not the change I want to make. What suits me better is life as a semi-free agent.