Not So Empty Nest Days

Cherishing the days past while moving towards the days ahead, BHG

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The Last Stretch

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

 

I’m not sure why this is the Scripture to use or if this will speak to anyone other than myself, but here I go. I have not been writing as normal since the beginning of the school year. The reason is very specific. My last child is a senior and it is hitting me harder than I thought… Like I seriously have moments when I wonder if this is real and even more honestly, I wish it weren’t.

My youngest daughter and I are on our last stretch as her being a minor, her being in school and soon after that, her being under my roof (you all know that declaration made to kids). It’s not so much that I am sad that she is growing up, quite the contrary, I am super excited to see what God has next for her and so forever grateful that i was chosen to walk this with her and unlike seven of her school mates, she has lived to see it. The sadness comes with having an empty nest. I know that God will fill my vats and keep me doing His work, but I am merely being honest when I say I am going to miss my babies…

On a trend of being honest, there are so many things I wish I could redo. I wish there was a button to push where not only would we go back in time but it would be the ultimate do over where the previous was erased… sort of like when you are recording your voice mail recording. I wish the times when I wasn’t as patient, I could go back and see what I saw directly after flying off my well-worn handle. I wish I could do over a warning that things would get worse if they kept the way they were going with love and concern instead of trying to pump fear and condemnation. I wish I could go back and handle each time a child teased or bullied one of my three… or an adult for that matter…. maybe some hands on help there. But most of all, I wish all the times I was depressed and wasting time chasing a man or money or freedom from “these kids” that I had embraced them and gotten on the floor to play with them a little more. I also wish that I could go back and tell my younger self that the “perfect moms” that seemedĀ  to beĀ DIY queens with clean homes, no, immaculate homes while toddlers seemed to change themselves and children seemed to be suspended in space while they did their work…. that is not realistic for every mom and it doesn’t have to be. I wish I could tell my young mommy self that I can be Mary and enjoy what will not be there soon instead of being Martha and worrying about things that will remain (like dirty dishes and clothes).

My time of being physical mommy (they still call me that) is almost up and I see instances where God has allowed for me to implant His wisdom in areas that should already have it. And for that, I am grateful. But I still wish for earlier days, knowing what I know now and doing what we do now.

What I can say is that God knew what He was doing when He planned for these three to walk this hard, sometimes lonesome, most days frustrated but nevertheless rewarding journey of being their single mama. He knew that they would teach me and they have. I can say (with tears as I finish this) that I am almost finished with this race, I have fought (mostly the kids) the good fight and I am keeping the faith that this next chapter in our lives will be well worth the turning of a new page. I leave with this…. young mammas heed a not too old mammas advice, you cannot do it all. Definitely teach them to care for their things, clean after themselves and watch out for each other (OH! and do NOT forget the manners) but love them as they are… not who you perceived them to be when you carried them. God’s plans are way bigger than yours and He loves them so much more. Trust Him and love them and take the time to show it.finish the race

 

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When Is It Enough?

Raising kids is a hard, some times draining, sometimes discouraging always rewarding job. My question is when does the parenting stop?

I answer my own question by saying never. Parenting has seasons just like the weather, a job, friendship, and life. From birth until they leave the house, training, love, encouragement and discipline should be the season. Once they leave, the parenting takes on a new form which carries over encouragement, prayer and adds new elements such as gentle guidance. Over the entire 23 years I have been a parent, I noticed small changes in my children’s environment that forced or warranted changes in me. I sometimes ignored these changes that should’ve taken effect in me, and sometimes I went in fully charged, determined to defeat an invisible foe that threatened to pull my children from me, leaving the very ones I aimed and vowed to protect harmed after all.

We have been through depression, bullying, addictions, homelessness, moral failure and even incarceration together. My children have watched me be physically thrown out of our home because of my choices, depressed and abandoned by one I chose to stay with LONG after the rush subsided, and even seen up close and probably too personally the pain of breaking out of a shell built around me in my childhood. They have seen me struggle emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually as I sought one remedy after another to be comfortable in this world.

I have seen them be hurt, be tormented, be made fun of, be torn down, make choices that landed them in both emotion and physical jail and be ignored and cast aside by someone who should have been there to guide them paternally.

Now that we are entering this new realm of adult and independent teen kid phase, I look back sometimes and go over where I messed up, I even entertain the spirit of regret about poison I poured into them, which has stolen a few years by itself. But I have finally gotten to a place where I understand what my role is, what my duties as their mom is, what it really means to RAISE children to be adults. I’m not looking so much on the failures anymore, I can’t do anything about them anyway but mend any hurts, so why waste precious time.

I have decided in these last few, or whatever, years I would spend time with my kids doing things I only wished we could do. Taking trips where we have never gone, seeing places we have never seen and saying things I felt were too awkward to say before. I have decided to love my kids where they are and leave the transformation to their Father, my Father who is the only One who knows their beginnings and their end. I only pray I live to see the fruit of some of our “labor” together and that our bond remains in generations to come.

When do/ did you stop parenting? It’s never too late to pick it back up. Not until the last breath is gone.

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Seasons Change

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

We are now in our spring (life) season as I write this, even though you can’t tell with the snow still happening here, however, I can see changes in the once dead and barren trees, in the grass on my front porch that’s gonna need to be mowed soon, the colors that people wear. Changes are everywhere. Even in the house we are making changes. Switching from fall/ winter to spring/ summer clothes and menus (yes I try to keep a menu). I have things to plant this year that will wilt and die around the time it starts getting cold. My children are changing and I am too.

It seems like such a short time ago that I stare into this little creatures eyes, wondering what I was gonna do with 2 kids. Wondering if I had jipped his sister who only had me to herself for a short while and wondering would I be able to give them what I thought they would need and want.

Fast forward 20 years and today I now have three healthy, vibrant and scarred adult and teen kids. I have stepped, no been shoved into a new season. A season where marriage, children and ministry or life choices are on their minds. My youngest has two more years of high school before she graduates and fear chokes me when I think about them leaving. You see we have grown up together. Don’t get me wrong, I raised them, they didn’t raise themselves and run amuck. But I was stuck in the early 20’s I didn’t want to leave. I sometimes still have to remind myself that my 20’s were 20 years ago! And so to have them leave, live on their own and not look to me for what they need frightens me. I don’t have a husband to “fall back on” from motherhood and so I wonder sometimes what will I do with myself. That’s probably the 10% selfish reason my kids are still at home. What the other 90% you ask? It’s to give them guidance and instruction. I believe that letting your child “experience the world” is like letting them experience what it’s like to take poison or be burned by a consuming fire. I know that’s what my belief is however when it’s time, God will have me release them. I’m just praying when that “flying the coop” season comes, He gives me extra strength peace! Even as I am watching and may later watch my kids make choices I know are leading them away from God, I will have that peace to pray and allow God to move. It was a late start for some things but I have trained them in the way they should go, so I trust that when they get older they will not depart from it. I can admit that I don’t like this season of change. It seems dark and watching my son and daughters walk away for the things of this world is hard, but I trust God.

“Everything has a season,” is what we are told in Ecclesiastes but I can’t seem to move past the mama stage. I’m not stuck there, I’m stubborn. But still changes around me are happening and I don’t want to miss so a real down ensued this last 3 weeks. I told God I don’t want anymore changes. I don’t want to keep going forward, I want things to stay the same. I wonder if my mom and her mom and her mom felt this. And then I woke up this brand new morning with a brand new word and brand new mercy waiting for me. I saw the verse above about Jesus being the same. I have to do this so bear with me. “In a world, ever changing, ever changing season and ever moving forward, there is a God who never changes.” My Movie Man voice, anyway back to what I was saying. Jesus heard my cry yesterday and answered me! He never changes! I can focus on that fact as my body changes, my kids change, my circumstances change and seasons change! He NEVER changes! He is the same as yesterday and today and forever! You can rest in this promise as well!

Father, thank you for never changing. We change even our mind about loving and serving you but You never change. Your love never changes for us no matter what we do. And Your Word never changes no matter how we try to make to suit us. Help us to remember that this week. In Jesus precious name. Amen!

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