“May you always find new roads to travel; new horizons to explore; new dreams to call your own.” ~ Unknown
New roads to travel. New horizons to explore. New dreams to call your own. That sounds like a good strategy right now.
I’m still pondering this week’s photo challenge word – horizon – and how that word impacts my life. Right now my horizons are uncertain. I compare my current state to being trapped in a small cabin with only one window and no door. The window opens a crack and just when I think I’ve finally worked my way out of one life situation and am scrambling out of the opened window – slam! The window shuts and I’m back into a tight spot trying to figure my way out…again.
I’ve been slowing maneuvering my way through this empty nest syndrome trying to redefine life after all of our kids have grown up, married, and moved to distant places. It’s just a given that when you are parents of still-at-home children, your life tends to revolve around them, caring for them, protecting them, providing for them, cheering on their successes, and drying their tears during their failures.
You successfully launch them into the world and then…find yourself in unfamiliar territory. At least, that’s what I found. Two of us rattle around this big ol’ house. Only two. We bump into each other daily and find we must reconnect as a married couple, not as Mama and Papa. We aren’t the same twosome we were when we started out in this business of married life together. We aren’t the same duo we were when our family grew to include three babies.
Time and circumstances – even location – have changed. They’ve changed us. Where conversations previously centered on our children and their comings and goings, now the flavor of dialogue is different. We talk politics and world happenings, we share issues of faith, we reminisce and tell stories about our youth, and sometimes we just discuss how we will spend the holidays because now there are three other families involved in such things. And the list goes on.
We’ve managed to adjust to a slower pace of life. No rushing off to sports practices and games or school concerts or musicals. No frantic throw dinner on the table so we can get there on time moments. No where in the world are those soccer cleats panic. Now we seldom rush anywhere.
We have time on our hands. Oh, there’s always something that needs our attention like that leaky kitchen faucet or the closet organizer that keeps falling off the wall. But there’s still time. Sometimes we just sit. He reads. I work my crossword puzzles. We settle into a routine of watching a few favorite television programs on certain evenings. Other times, we decide to jump in the car and go somewhere. Anywhere.
So all of this reconnecting and figuring out how to live as just a couple again takes some getting used to. And I definitely sense I’m coming out on the other side of the empty nest syndrome into acceptance and moving forward.
But just as I think I’ve mastered that, something else shoves me backward. The open window into the horizon blows shut again. This time I find myself without my part-time job. Actually without any job at all. For almost 13 years, my part-time work was my ministry. It defined me outside of my position of mother and wife. It provided a sense of accomplishment because what I did made a difference in the lives of teenagers. And it provided an extra source of income as well.
Now that’s gone. It’s done. I find myself experiencing that same overwhelming sense of loss that I felt when my parents died and when I found myself in the empty nest. The uncertainty that came with my husband’s job loss a few years ago has resurfaced as well. That ‘what will I do now’ feeling engulfs me. I wander through my house each day and mentally make a list of all the many projects I could start. Yet I don’t start them.
I scour internet job search sites every other day for a new job. I find nothing. My window continues to stay closed. The horizon dims and seems narrowed and beyond my reach.
But I persevere. Because that’s what I do. I’m not a giver-upper. Or a giver-inner. And I know what I need. I need to be a re-definer.
I used to be a stay-at-home mother dedicated to raising my young children the best way I could while my traveling salesman husband provided for us. Now I’m a mother of grown and married young adults who live far away. I’m redefined.
I used to work for a non-profit organization and felt I made a difference in the world. Now I am jobless and have a lot of time on my hands. I’m redefined.
I’m not certain my redefinition comes from being in this middle stage of life but I suspect that is the case. I only know that I feel caught in a holding pattern. I’m circling and circling but I don’t know where to land. I do know the horizon’s out there somewhere.
I’ve got to place one foot in front of the other and begin a new journey. At my age, it’s kinda scary. But I’ve got a loving, supportive husband to walk beside me, a family to cheer me on, and faith to see me through. I just need to turn in the direction of the right horizon for me and I need to learn how to dream again.
“Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.” ~ William Newton Clarke