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?'
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.
'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."