Sunday, September 05, 2010

Empty Nest? Full heart!

It is the cycle of life.....children are born, they grow up, if you are really lucky, they go away to college.

This is the plan.

This is the goal you work towards for 18 years.

Why then, upon successfully delivering your last child to college does your heart ache with a relentless crushing pain? It is a physical pain; a pain that causes you to want to throw up.

I've planned for this, I've prepared for this since our 2nd child left home 10 years ago. I should be a pro at this....been there done that...and survived. And yet, as we walked out of our youngest son's dorm room today, I had to will my feet to keep moving. I wasn't just leaving my youngest son at his newly decorated and fully supplied dorm room, I was walking towards...a not yet prepared for phase of my life.

I am a Mom. It's who I am.

Oh, I have a million other passionate causes and lists of things I can do. It's not about having nothing to do. It's about a forced retirment from a role that I never imagined could fill my heart to overflowing. It is walking away from the joy that was MY child.

I grew up in a rage filled alcoholic home; a home filled with daily crisis and chaos. A home where being loved meant....pain and terror. By the time I was a teenager, I was certain--having children was not for me. In fact, when I met my husband in college, one of the first things I told him was I was never having children. I couldn't bear the thought of repeating the soulessness of what I knew as parenting.

But God knew better! And six years into our marriage we had our first child, our Katie. The moment I saw her, the pain of my past began to heal. Perhaps I could love this little angel without causing pain. My confidence grew with each priceless moment--as I stared at her little body, I knew, THIS is what love was meant to be.

Our second child was born 23 months later and my heart expanded two-fold! Being a Mom was so rewarding, I couldn't get enough of it! I was overwhelmed with gratitude that my husband and I were building a family of love. Where I was once reluctant, I had become sold--hook-line and sinker....THIS is what love was meant to be.

It took ten long years before our Sam was born; named Samuel--for I was a mid-life woman who had prayed for years for another baby. "Samuel:" God heard. God had heard and blessed us with this wonderful little bundle of YAY-GOD!!!!

Yes, God heard...he heard before I even knew what to ask. He gifted me the role of "Mommy" to show me our Abba's kind of love. This is what love was meant to be.

It is a cherished role that I struggle to give up.

As I write, it has occurred to me that even those many years ago (yes, back when the dinasaurs roamed the earth!), I was entering a phase of life...a transition....much like the transition I am facing tonight. Maybe because I was moving on from something so horrendous, the struggle wasn't so difficult.

As I face this transition in the coming days, months and years....the "what" I am leaving behind is such a tremendous loss, it tempts to stop me in my tracks. But really, what good would that do? For I have learned that although our children grow into adults, we are still their Moms and their Dads. We can still influence their lives. They still need our love...and us! So it is important that I move forward with grace and confidence. I want each of my children to see their Mom be a woman of great strength and joy. A woman who defines herself not just by a fleeting role...but one who defines herself as the daughter of our God....who blesses each phase of our lives.

So as I sit on the threshold of this landmark transition, I will 'set the timer' and feel my loss. Loss that is great...but not without hope. For this mid-life-mama has lived long enough to know without a shadow of a doubt that "each day of our life is ordained for [us] and written in His book" (Psalm 139:16). Whatever this transition brings, I can know, I can KNOW...He has purposed this for me...just as He purposed my role of "Mommy" just for me. Like Sara, I can attest, "God Hears!"

This struggle will continue as all transitions cause unrest and unease. My "nest' may be empty, but my spirit is full as I realize that God always provides the way.....God hears!


Tina said...

We say farewell to our 18 year old in 2 weeks. She is moving to another country to train as a missionary for 9 months. I'm pretty sure I'm going to hyperventilate with that one.
she isn't the last one at home...we have one more... and it is never easy to shoo them off. But, it's healthy and good and right. and really really hard. I feel your pain.

Dionna said...

More and more as my children grow up, I'm realizing just how "fleeting" my role as mommy truly is!

Karen said...

Beautifully written, Diane!