Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Redefining. Again.

I approach the blank page with a little uncertainty today... mostly because I feel I have something to say but have no idea where I'll end up. I just know I need to write. Process. Take a moment...

It's been a rough summer for me.

I work a lot now - more than I ever have since I had kids. And so summer looks very different for my kiddos... with mom gone a lot and them defining their days on their own. I haven't heard many complaints from them... occasionally one will groan when I remind them I'll be working... but in general, I think they're managing just fine.

My struggle lies more in what happens when I'm not working... because more often than not, when I get home, they leave.

This is my reality.

I work - and then I come home to an empty house. Not that different from the school year routine - but somehow it feels so wrong. And sad.

I miss my kids.

And so I have spent much of the summer fighting a melancholy... a lost-ness... a lack of direction... AND a frustration that I live in a house with four other people who eat the food and dirty the dishes and fill the hamper and who, like the worst roommates, seldom contribute to the management/functioning of the household.

Honestly - there's a bit of resentment that's built. Hard to admit that, but I've always been about keeping it real.

Because I feel like I work my tail off, putting in hours at work, driving kids around, cleaning and wiping and laundering and shopping... and I get nothing in return. No fun times with my kids... no soul food in the form of 'mommy you're my favorite' or 'mommy will you read with me' or anything besides 'can I go to so-and-so's house?'

Poor me.

It all sort of came to a head a few days ago when I had just reached my limit... found myself completely overwhelmed... and sort of shut down. I poked around the house for a couple of days feeling sorry for myself - lamenting the end of a really boring (for me) summer - and going down the checklist of all the fun I didn't have... it wasn't particularly pretty.

I prayed a lot - a lot of 'what's this melancholy all about, God?' and 'am I really this pathetic?' and 'what might You want me to do with this new reality I find myself in?' and 'why can't life just be easy and fun and steady - why am I so up-and-down-and-all-over-the-map?' and 'I knew this was coming so why can't I just let my kids fly free and be happy for their friendships and successes and budding life experiences and stop being so darn selfish?'

I ask a lot of questions sometimes.

And then it hit me.

Somewhere in the midst of wanting to soak up every little moment and experience with my kids while they're still home, I've stopped soaking up any moments for me... almost to the point where when they aren't here, I'm in a state of waiting. Pausing my own life for the sake of not wanting to miss any of theirs.

And that in the midst of my current existence, that's probably not the best strategy for personal fulfillment and contentment.

And that perhaps, it's time to begin to think just a teeny bit about what makes Cathy happy... and begin to explore a few things that can satisfy my heart into a new sort of fullness of being. Begin to consider what God might have for me in the now - opening myself up to a redefinition of self.

I don't mean that my kids don't still need me. Ethan's still only 12, for heaven's sake... and certainly there are moments when I know my role is still essential to them. But generally, their demands on me are much less often and less intense and more on-their-terms than ever.

So basically - I think I need to get a life.

Of course, since I am ridiculously project/goal/destination driven, I feel the need to put something into play... some sort of plan... challenge... mission...

I'm thinking it through. Praying for direction. Opening my heart a little to possibility. Dialoguing with my sweet dreamer/husband/life partner who generally knows me better than I know myself and always has encouragement and provocative questions for me to consider.

Stay tuned.

'Cause I'm pretty sure Jeremiah 29:11 still applies to me...

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future."

4 comments:

  1. Cathy,
    I remember after 13 years of homeschooling and being a Mom very involved in her kids life to boom one graduated and the other doing her senior year in a public school. I remember feeling a floundering, a drifting and needing to find out God's leading and purpose for that new season of my life. For me, as an oral processor, meeting with a godly older woman on a regular basis was very helpful. Thank you Ada Thompson!! I had many voices chiming in to tell me what I should do but I wanted to be sure I was listening to the One who truly mattered.
    God used that time to grow meas an individual and as a woman of God. After some months it became quite evident that God had ministry for me to do beyond my kids that not just filled those times but fulfilled me and honored Him.
    Teens and young adult kids in the home means chaos, not knowing if dinner will be just the two of you or ten or more. It means learning to live a life not so intertwine with theirs yet treasuring the late night talks that last an hour when they plop on the foot of your bed when they get home from work or an event at 1:00am and you have to be at church by 7:30 for choir. Frequently happened back in our Asaph days :-)
    Yes and Jeremiah 29:11 applies for this season, and for each season that God brings.
    applies for me when you and they live in different ends of the country (Daughter moved to Minneapolis, son still in Spokane and God moved us to Phoenix area 4 years ago), when the grandchildren come, as you minister to others as God orchestrates, when chronic disease hits, when hubby becomes a lay pastor as well as working a full time job. Enjoy the ever changing normals of life and the surprising destinations God will bring you to in the future
    Blessings!
    Deb

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  2. okay cath, I went through this and I think that alot of middle-aged (pardon the word) women go through this. I went through a major sense of overwhelm. It helped when Kim Fisher told me to consider going through the Ignatius Exercises. It was a life changer for me. Still struggle but I am happier now b/c I am taking care of bernie. Know you're not alone and turn to Jesus b/c he will meet you there. bernie

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  3. I am glad you could share this with us, and mostly yourself! Reading your wall on your facebook it appeared to me that you were having a great summer.....

    So it's good to bring your feelings out in the open and not sugar-coat what you are going through! It probably feels better since you've vented some! I hope so! When my kids all left home I found myself angry. Not because they were moving forward and happy, but rather because I felt left behind. I discovered too late in life that I needed to take care of me also. Perhaps even first. As a "mom", I think that perception makes you feel selfish. But in reality, when I started thinking of what I needed instead of what I needed to do for everyone else, the void was filled. Find the things outside the family that bring you joy, and when they are not needing you as much, that joy will be with you. (And as a sidenote, I am discovering my children need me more and more the older they get so they always need you. They even appreciate you more!) It will get better! Hang in there.

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  4. going thru a bit of that here as well...exciting for the next 4 weeks as we countdown to Leah's wedding (last one!) but I retired from "MY" cheerleaders and am wondering what the school year holds for me...beyond grandkidlet events, cleaning, cooking....I know I want to finally get my scrapbooks going and some completed...but...there is more to life than sitting alone scrapping...:)

    thank you for being sooo honest...thinking you need to start a study/learning/growth/something group....sign me up~!

    xo

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