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Posts Tagged ‘#emptynest’

“Just linger for a moment or two” I heard myself say. “Carole, you’ve gotta learn to linger.”

Five years ago, life was different.

Our oldest daughter was preparing to her first apartment, next daughter was living at home while studying at a local university and our youngest was still in high school, where I worked. We lived in a large home, on a sizeable property that demanded of us constantly. Hubby worked nowhere near just a forty hour work week as a pastor in a local church and his job trickled down into seen and unseen responsibilities for myself. It was our first year in a few with no International students as part of our home and family.

I was tired, perpetually tired.

It seemed that I was constantly in demand, in motion. I was either cooking, or driving, or working, or weeding …

and now …

life is different.

Our oldest two daughters are out on their own, our son still mostly living at home, sometimes working out of town, currently working locally. I still work the same hours, but it’s different. Hubby no longer working over full time as a pastor, now working a couple of part time positions. We sold our large property for a townhouse close to everything.

Life is … simpler, quieter, less demanding.

But, learning to linger … it does not come natural after years of living based on the urgent. The growing pains from a life of busy to less slow are very real.

In my adjustments to this new way of life and living, I am beginning to learn to linger … but it is a learning, a process of slowing oneself down.

It means pausing to smell the flowers, to listen, to ponder, to wonder.

It also means pausing in my day and lingering in the awareness of the presence of God. To put the book, the phone, the keys down … maybe even closing my eyes, and letting God know that I know he is right there, with me.


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It’s when I see a leaf fall, flowers fade, the sunset after dinner, feel the chill in the morning air. Autumn is here in more ways than just the change of calendar … and I feel sad.

Autumn was once my favorite season, with it’s red leaves, sweater weather and talk of Thanksgiving. It is the season hubby and I met and were married, the season when two of our three were born. It was my favorite season …

Then, for some reason, unknown to me, I began to see it, not as the start of something new, but the end of something loved.

Don’t get me wrong, I do still take delight in the cool breeze and changes in the color of the leaves, but … the seasonal change … it also seems to herald endings.

The older I get the more I embrace the heat of summer, daylight stretching into the night, bare feet, leisure time.

I recently read a verse that made me ponder these feelings about the autumn.

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does will prosper.” Psalm 1:3

Maybe that is it … maybe it’s the withering that is partially to blame for my apathy towards this once favorite seasonal change. Maybe I am starting to see myself as withering and fruitless.

It is so easy to feel less fruitful once the house is quiet of the daily noise of kids in the house. It can feel a bit like you’re a leaf that was blown off the tree.

Yet, if my hope is in God, if I stay planted near him (in prayer and in reading of his word), this Psalm assures me that I will still produce fruit in my life, still be used by him to do his will.

A number of days ago, hubby was beckoned to an elderly lady. Originating from Southeast Asia, Canada has been her home for many years. Now into her nineties, she spends her days praying.

all. day. every. day.

This is what she says is her calling, her purpose … and she fulfills it beautifully.

When hubby walked to her, she said, “I am going to pray for your family” and immediately proceeded to do just that.

“It was just beautiful. Something so special,” he said, when he told me at home later.

This woman, though very much withered physically, has stayed near the living water and she has not withered in spirit or purpose one bit. She is still, very much, producing fruit.

Kinda makes me want to go play in the leaves.

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He walked through my bedroom door,
my once little boy.
But as I watched him just brush his hair,
in my bathroom mirror,
it hit me,
my youngest child
is no longer a baby.
And my heart sunk,
As I realized, that part of my life, so far, is past.

There is a sense of longing that comes as I realize that I am no longer a mom to ‘babies’ or even ‘children’. Oh, I am still a mom to minors, but my minors have all reached the edge of the abyss known as adolescence. And this edge is where I say farewell to a part of my life, that has been all-consumingly present for over eighteen years. My adolescent kids have all reached the stage of not needing me.

There are times (many) over the past eighteen years, when I would have given anything for them to need me less. I can so easily remember those ‘touched out’ days, those sleepless nights (they do still happen, but just when they get ready for bed, and they slam the bathroom door), those stomach virus weeks, when ‘the bucket’ would be transported from one sick kid to the next, and then around again, and again, and again.

I do love the parent-pre-teen/teen relationships. Truly that is what I was looking for when hubby and I decided that we wanted to have children. I feel so bad for our kids … as neither hubby or I are ‘baby people’. One would think that our kids would have had one baby-addict-parent. Honestly, when I see someone holding a newborn I just feel sorry for them (did I just say that out loud?), I mean, I am happy for them, but I know they are in the midst of a stressful time of life … and man, I’m glad it’s not me! To me, going through all of the stresses of babies and toddlers is worth it, if I get to, finally, live in a house with pre-teens and teens (and really, they are just like toddlers … they are just too heavy to pick up, place in their bed, and shut the door … same ‘hissy fits’, same growth spurts, same level of curiosity, and a beautiful sense of wonder … you just need to look harder for it). But, I digress …

Our youngest is almost twelve, and, although in private he will still hug me, and give and receive ‘I love you’s’, he is ‘moving on’ through the doorway to his teens, to be followed by adulthood. And, I have to say, it makes me feel a little sad, a little lonely, a lot … unneeded (and I need to feel needed).

For in this regard, his moving through that doorway signals the end of that, very defining, very demanding, very all-consuming part of MY life (and really, it is all about me). And I think I am needing to get my head wrapped around it!

The process of this ‘end’, of course began when mothering began … but it seemed so very  f a r  away. Then last summer, about half of our dinners together consisted of only hubby, the boy and me (as our daughters both have ‘gotten a life’). This was shocking to me! And, much of the time, one or two, or three of the kids were gone away overnight! My goodness … my nest is beginning to empty!

But, there is a flip side to all of this. This past year our family ‘adopted’ a local university student, who we fed, watched hockey games with and fed again (it is so gratifying to feed a ‘starving’ university student … they eat anything! And talk like you can cook like Jamie Oliver). And then we rented our suite to a delightful young lady, who we encouraged to join us for many mealtimes, for rides to church, for laughter and chats. And, last summer, our pool was frequently filled with the laughter of not just our kids, but many of our neighbors and friends. And dinners, well … truly it is feast or famine for numbers sitting at the table. Sometimes three, sometimes thirteen.

So, the dynamics of our life are changing. And, so I too need to learn to change … my expectations (and, frequently, my meal plans … at the last minute). I now have the privilege of ‘mothering’ others … who need a hug, a home-cooked meal … a house with a pool, on a hot day. It’s a new kind of being needed.

And, one day, that too will cause change, and adjustment, and introspection. And, if I am ever going to be wise, I will lean to accept the change, and seek within it a new kind of being needed … a new kind of wonder.

“Cause babies don’t keep, we’ve learned to our sorrow.”

*I wrote this seven and a half years ago. Now my babies are 19, 21 and 26 … no longer babies, children, adolescents … barely a teen in the house! I think there will always be that momma longing to be sought out, to be needed … that said, they do still need me, it’s just different. They need me to help them move, sew their leggings, find a good used shelf, to see if there is parking out front … and no one else can give them a momma hug.

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