Saturday, July 29, 2006

Empty Nest Blues Preview

When Joshua flew to Europe two weeks ago, I was completely unprepared for my reaction.

I was staggered by the notion that my youngest child was mature enough to embark on a trip to several foreign lands accompanied by a bunch of people I don't know. I suddenly realized that, in a few short years, my child-rearing days will be over. That realization threw me into a morbid depression that lasted through the first couple of days of my vacation.

Dave was empathetic and supportive, and he patiently endured several tearful outbursts from me. I've spent most of my adult life raising my sons and I've enjoyed it most of the time. Of course, they've disappointed me on odd occasions, and, unfortunately, I know they could say the same about me. Overall, though, I've been blessed with a wonderful family: a caring, gentle husband and two sons who overwhelmingly make me proud to be their Mom. I love being a mother and I'm going to miss my sons when the size of our household diminishes to three and then to two.

Having said all that, I also look forward to Jonathan and Joshua's continued growth and development.

Jonathan is preparing to enter a Salvation Army College for Officer's Training (probably in Atlanta) within a year or two. He is incredibly energetic, compassionate and creative, and he throws himself wholeheartedly into corps ministries. He reminds me very much of my father. When it's time for him to leave my home and establish his own life, ministry and family, even though I will miss having him around the house, I anticipate that he will accomplish great things for God and The Salvation Army. I will enjoy watching that, even though my role in those things will be peripheral.

Joshua wants to be a music teacher. In addition to being blessed with musical ability, he is level-headed and even-tempered. He will work well with students, parents and school administrators. Again, when it's time for him to go, I will miss having him around the house, but I will also enjoy watching him grow and playing whatever my small role will be in those events.

I've given much thought to these matters in the past two weeks, and I'm slowly accepting the fact that my role in the lives of my adult children will move from the center to the edges. It will be difficult giving up center stage, which is where I've been for well over twenty years now. The time is quickly coming when I will no longer be the leading lady for either of my sons. But I also know that it's often the supporting cast that actually makes or breaks the show. When the time comes to move from center-stage to stage-right or stage-left, I will continue to play my part with gusto, for it will be a priviIege to participate in the ongoing pageants of my sons' lives.


Joanne said...

I relate to this one. Believe it or not, I had my first "cry" as a mother when it came to my kids beginning independent when Jason was 1 year old. It was the last day I nursed him. It was then that I realized I was at the point of no return, that my kids were growing and would continue to strive for full independence without mom & dad.

I have truly come to appreciate the independent, creative and caring people my kids have become. I cherish my time with them and am thrilled that although our relationship will never be as it was when they were young and at home, our relationships have changed and grown into something more mature, and a mutual respect and understanding of each other as individuals. We have become individuals that will always be one as a family.

Evie Sears said...

Actually, I felt much the same way when I weaned Joshua. I knew he would be my last child, so, like you, I knew that weaning him represented a point of no return. I knew I would never again enjoy the thrill of bonding with my children in that special way that only mothers (and perhaps wet nurses) can experience.

Susan Osborn said...

The whole "weaning" process takes their lifetime - and pecks away at a mother our whole lifetime. How can something fill your heart and break it at the same moment?
The adventure of independence may be a bit different between mothers and their daughters, but the sense of loss of something very special is just as palpable. I've found Mark Harris' song "Find Your Wings" articulates much of it for me:

Mark Harris - Find Your Wings

It's only for a moment you are mine to hold;
The plans that heaven has for you
Will all too soon unfold.
So many different prayers I'll pray
For all that you might do,
But most of all I'll want to know
You're walking in the truth.
And If I never told you
I want you to know
As I watch you grow

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things.
I'm here for you whatever this life brings;
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

May passion be the wind
That leads you through your days,
And may conviction keep you strong
Guide you on your way
May there be many moments
That make your life so sweet
Oh, but more than memories

I pray that God . . . .

It's not living if you don't reach for the sky
I'll have tears as you take off
But I'll cheer as you fly

I pray that God . . . .

Yes, recent years have been filled with both tears and cheers. Now that my 3 are young women, we appreciate what each other brings to our family bond, but even they express a wish that they could reclaim some of the moments we shared in their childhood. I trust that those moments will be models for them as they build precious times and memories with their own children.