This girl

70sme

20-something me in the ’70s

Many little girls dream of the day when they become mothers. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t.

Oh, when I was young, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy to them. I had tea parties with my dollies and did all the usual little girl play acting.  But when I thought of my future, which I must admit wasn’t that often, I didn’t envision myself becoming a mother.  No, I imagined my future self as either a famous actress or a well-known best-selling author.

And I have become neither.  But the best accomplishment I’ve ever achieved and one that I will never, ever regret is becoming a mother.  Growing up, my own mother instilled in me that I needed to go to college and become ‘something.’  Mom never worked outside of our home and she was a wonderful mother taking care of us three girls, cooking and baking the most delicious food, and turning our home into a lovely sanctuary. 

An only child, Mom also lovingly cared for her own parents in our home until they passed away.  She was generous, devoted to her family, and homemaking really did seem to make her happy particularly when she used her artistic talent in sewing, crocheting, and making beautiful hand-made quilts. 

Somewhere along my path to becoming an adult, whether it was a nudge from my own mom or just a sign of the times – the late 60’s and early 70’s – I embraced the idea that I did not want to become ‘just a wife and mother’ like my own mom.  I used to proclaim that I aimed for one goal – to be a career woman. I wasn’t interested in getting married, and for anyone who listened, I added that my vow certainly did not include having children.

What I did not account for in my made-up scenario of life is that I would meet and fall head over heels in love with a young man during my junior year of college and I would gladly become his wife three years later.

Still I entertained thoughts of not having children. Looking back now, I really cannot pinpoint why I had made that decision in early adulthood.  But four years after I married my husband, it happened.  I discovered that I wasn’t really suffering from an intestinal bug that made me nauseous and prompted early morning trips to the bathroom, I was pregnant – with child.

I was shocked and unprepared and the timing certainly wasn’t ideal.  My military husband was slated for an overseas year-long unaccompanied (meaning no wives along) assignment and would be leaving soon.   Up to this point, our lives seemed great since we both enjoyed our careers; we were saving my earnings; we had a great social circle of friends; and we did pretty much what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. 

All of that came screeching to a halt when an Army doctor gave me the good news.  Since the baby was due when my husband would be out of the country, I panicked.  How could I bring a baby into the world alone, far away from not only my husband but my family and their support as well?

We solved the dilemma by preparing for my husband’s PCS (permanent change of station) by moving out of our on-post housing, putting most of our belongings in storage, and moving me to temporarily stay with my folks while my husband was stationed on the other side of the world.  My parents eagerly welcomed me home and they were amazing as they helped me adjust to the idea of motherhood.  

A week after Christmas, my own mother held me as I sobbed inconsolably in an airport restroom after kissing my husband goodbye for the next year of our lives.  As she hugged me and stroked my head, my wise mother whispered, “You need to stop crying now.  It’s time to think about the baby.”

And she was right.  As foreign and surreal as it seemed because I wasn’t even showing yet, there was a new little life growing and developing inside my own.  I felt the baby’s first fluttering move on Christmas Eve while sitting in church but it all still seemed so unreal.  

It was indeed time to think about my baby.

It was time to really grow up.  Time to put aside my wants, my desires, my thoughts about myself and my sadness over being separated from my husband, and think of someone else.  Someone who would be solely dependent on me.  My child.

Thirty plus years have come and gone since that day.  When I brought that first new little life into this world, I never imagined the intense love I would feel for that child.  My child.  The day my firstborn was placed in my arms, I launched on a new career path – motherhood.  My husband and I together decided that the best thing for our family was for me to be a stay-at-home mom.

I kissed my former career goodbye and I’ve never regretted that decision.  My outlook on motherhood completely changed when I became a mother myself.  With each child born – and there were two more gifts of life – my joy and blessings increased and so did my deep love for my children.  

A couple of years ago, each one of my grown children married (all in the same year!) and now I am Mama to six adults instead of just three.  My love for my ‘children’ just keeps blossoming and growing and extending way beyond what I ever envisioned.   

And now I am an empty nest mama.  Somehow time flew past in a whirlwind and our house, which once was so full of noise, toys, and childhood mayhem is neat, orderly, and quiet.  And yes, I must admit, it’s also lonely from time to time.

Change.  That’s what life always brings.  And now it’s time for a new change. 

This girl…this girl with her wide-eyed dreams…this girl who never thought she was capable of being a mother…this girl who cherished motherhood more than a career…this girl who watched each of her fledglings soar out of her nest…this girl who is sometimes astonished at the middle-aged lady who looks back at her from the mirror…this girl…is changing again. 

This girl…is going to be a grandmother!

“A house needs a grandma in it.” ~Louisa May Alcott

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©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Take a walk with me

blogtaking a walkThirty-four years ago today, a young man, who was so nervous he was sweating buckets, took the hand of a young woman, who was equally just as anxious because her stomach was turning flip flops, and the two of them took a walk down a church aisle.

Thus began their journey into married life, a commitment they made to one another that day over three decades ago.  They’ve chosen to honor and stay faithful to that commitment through the years past and for the years to come.

Their journey together hasn’t been smooth sailing.  They’ve encountered hills to climb, valleys to stumble through, rivers to cross, even chasms to bridge.  Life is never perfect and that certainly includes married life.

Those two commenced a life with white lace and promises and then ventured west into the sunset to live happily ever after.  They made their way alone without family nearby then faced an overwhelming challenge of being apart for an entire year while the young man served his country in a foreign land.

Their trek together has taken them to different areas of the country with twists and turns here and there.  Along the way, they’ve made adjustments, had their fair share of quarrels and disagreements, experienced disappointment, uncertainty, and even fear together.   But their love for one another endured on the journey producing great joy and building up of faith in the God they serve.

They’ve been blessed with three amazing children and continue to cherish the privilege of being parents.  They’ve watched those three grow, mature and, in the blink of an eye, become adults.  And now from a different perspective, they watch their children, in adult bodies with mature minds and spirits, find mates of their own.  Soon this couple will occupy a front row pew and witness another young couple in love, middle daughter and fiancé, take a walk down the church aisle.  It appears their other children will also take that walk in the near future.

This man and his wife find themselves amazed and a little dumbfounded that they’ve arrived at this season in life so soon.  They watched with heartache as their own parents grew elderly, succumbed to illnesses, and passed from this life.   And now, with a bit of sadness, they realize they have become the older generation.  However, there is still much love and joy to anticipate when their family expands with husbands for their daughters, a wife for their son, and hopefully a bevy of grandchildren.

The joy after all is in the journey.  And so they clasp hands once more, grateful for 34 years past and hopeful for more to come.

That couple is my husband and me.  Happy 34th Anniversary to my beloved, who stands by my side and yet always has my back,  picks me up when I’m down,  takes care of me in sickness and in health, and loves me no matter what.   Take my hand, my husband, and walk with me as we journey into the future on this first page in Chapter 10 of my book called Opportunity.

 ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

It’s about time

pexels-photo-129571.jpegTag lines.  They define,  designate,  and identify us.  Some people have M.D. after their name, some have Ph.D., but all of us have a title of some sort.

We begin with the name Baby, toodle into Toddler, and gradually grow into Child.  Next comes the tumultuous title, Teenager.  If both parents and child survive that one, we arrive at Adult, although Young Adult is now bantered around.

Some of us situate ourselves at Single; some of us mosey into Married, where we willingly take the qualifier Wife or Husband.  Then the cycle begins anew, but this time we become Parent of the Baby, Toddler, Child, and Teenager.

A new set of names works its way into our language then.  Empty Nester.  Sandwich Generation.  Middle-ager or Baby Boomer as my generation is tagged.  At some point, hopefully, we become Mother-in-law and Father-in-law, usually followed by Grandparent.  But ultimately, we become the Elderly.

It occurred to me recently that I have worked my way through most of that list and there aren’t many categories left to place a check mark beside.   This happens when you pass the big Five-O, and start sliding toward 60.

I was rudely reminded of that last night as hubby and I met with a nice gentleman who discussed long-term care insurance with us.  Talking about the possibility that one or both of us may need such a thing if a lingering illness should arise made me want to hyper-ventilate.  “I’m too young to be thinking about long-term care!” my mind screamed as my face hid behind a pasted-on smile while listening to his presentation.

As much as I think I have embraced my “fifty-something-ness,” I guess there’s still a smidgen of denial there.   This morning I’ve been pondering my current state of life.  What are the tag lines that define me?

It’s true I am an Empty Nester.  I think that for some of us, this stage of life comes in two phases.  The first phase is when your teenagers/young adults start heading off to college.  Hubby and I experienced a period of ten years in that phase.  Our oldest daughter went to college in the year 2000 and our youngest child, our son, graduated from college in 2010.

Stage one of empty-nest-hood is a quasi-phase, I think.  Even though one or more of your children moves out of your home to attend college, they still return for summers and/or school breaks, so they aren’t yet fully supplied with wings to fly completely out of the nest.  Most of the time, they still rely on you for food, a washing machine and dryer, a room in which to retreat, and probably monetary funding as well.  So relationally and economically, they still are your dependents.

Empty nest stage two arrives when your children actually and literally move out of your home, either through career launching or marriage.  As difficult as stage one may have been, stage two is gut-wrenching and liberating coinciding together.  Emotionally, it is difficult to let go, to watch your child’s attempt at solo flight without your assistance or interference.

The empty nest also can be quite lonely, especially if you realize you’ve lost connection with your spouse during those difficult years of parenting.  The absence of a brood of teenagers/young adults makes your home a chilling, quiet place.  But hopefully, you find a new sense of direction with your spouse and that leads to liberation.

As each child spreads those wings to fly, you cheer him or her on and rejoice in the freedom that flight brings you.  It can be an exciting time for them and you.  When adult children launch careers (or get married) and become self-sustaining, we parents experience more financial freedom and more time to engage in all those things we relegated to the back burner when we became parents.

Since our son (our youngest) just graduated from college this past spring and moved to another state to launch his career this summer, hubby and I have been attempting this adjustment into empty nest, phase two.  The finality of this stage is what makes it so daunting.

All three of our adult children have proven they are quite capable of independence.  As their mama, I’m oh so proud of that, but at the same time, I must deal with the anguishing hard fact that they don’t need me like they once did.  That’s why this phase is so gut-wrenching, especially for those of us who were stay-at-home moms.

Many empty nesters wear the sandwich generation label at the same time.  This generation describes those of us who support college-aged children and at the same time take care of aging parents.  Our sandwich generation days came to a close when my father, the last of our parents, passed away.

I think that is yet another reason I struggled so considerably – my final stage of empty nesting was arriving at the same time as my sandwich generation period ended.  Double whammy.  So I engaged in a “Who needs me any more?” period of mourning, until I realized that just because they don’t need me, doesn’t mean they don’t love me.

So through prayer, patience, and positive thinking, I’m casting off the mourning veil; I’m coming round the bend (but not going off the deep end!).

The late Erma Bombeck, whose writing I think was hysterically funny, once said, “When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they’re not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of capless shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They’re upset because they’ve gone from supervisor of a child’s life to a spectator. It’s like being the vice president of the United States.”

Well said.  It’s about time I accept the label and the challenge that comes with it.  Hence, I do hereby accept the office and title of Empty Nester, and on those days, I’m tempted to mourn, I’ll read this passage – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:  “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die;  A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away;  A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate;  A time of war, and a time of peace.”  (New King James Version)

©2010 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com