Halloween is a time for putting on a mask and pretending to be someone else. It’s a holiday my family has enjoyed celebrating together, even as my kids have become adults. It helps that I have a grandson, whom we all rally around to make the most of how he experiences such holidays.
Leading up to the fall and Halloween, I’ve been doing the opposite of putting on a mask. I’ve been taking one off. Instead of wearing the mask of parent, caregiver and nurturer to my children, I’ve been getting to know who I am without that mask.
Until recently, I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life raising other people. After 30 years of parenting, I found myself as an adult with one focus—myself. I can’t begin to explain how strange this has been, though strange in a good way.
When your focus has always been on someone else, it feels unnatural to think of only your own needs. Yet, it’s necessary. I’ve been a mom since I was 19 years old, and now I’m 50, no longer parenting young kids.
Many of my friends spent their 20s figuring out what they wanted, doing what they desired and thinking of only themselves. I’m playing the hole backward as they say in golf. I didn’t have this experience of responsibility for only myself during my 20s or 30s. I’m having it now, and it’s scary and exciting at the same time. It’s like exploring Greece for the first time without a map. My kids or partner were always guiding my compass. Now that compass points only at me.
This is my first Halloween and fall truly solo. I might even hide out from the trick-or-treaters this year and spend Halloween in a hot bath with a good book, because I can.
Writer and podcast host Natalie Webster specializes in experiences that often push her outside of her comfort zone and helps others expand their boundaries, too.