As my kids got older, I wanted to stop the clock. Not because the teen years were precious moments to be savored but because I knew that our family dynamic was starting to change. In hindsight, those teen years were precious moments to be savored. From the last minute homework or project help, to the late night counseling sessions. From celebrating my kids getting their drivers licenses to the times I held my breath waiting for the car to pull into the driveway.
The first night we got home from dropping our son off at college, I found myself leaving the front door unlocked and the porch light on, listening for his car to pull into the driveway when he got home from work. Alas, he was give hours away and quite joyful at the idea of being on his own. The whole situation felt unsettling. I said so to my husband as I turned off the light and locked the front door.
A mere four days before, we sent our daughter off to Qatar with her husband to live and to teach for one to two years. Talk about ripping the empty nest Band Aid off- ouchie! One night that week I was lying in bed
thinking moping and the house was so quiet. I was having one of those "this is your life" moments remembering all that had transpired in our bedroom. Every Christmas morning that our kids came zipping into our bedroom to tell us that Santa had come. My teen daughter flopping face down on the bed so that we could have another heart to heart talk about friends, school or faith. Sometimes burying her head under the pillow because it was too embarrassing. Our elementary school aged son balling his eyes out because he was being bullied. Toweling our kids off after they swam in our over sized bathtub with their swimsuits and goggles until their feet were white and wrinkled. The nights of musical beds when our kids were sick or having bad dreams. Waking up feeling slightly displaced or with someones toes in our faces. Nights huddled under the covers waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. Endless bedtime stories when I tried to skip pages but my kids finally got wise enough to know what I was doing. Intimate talks that went late into the night as we worried about our kids, analyzed a situation and tried to solve their problems. Lying in bed and dreaming about their futures, wondering how they'd turn out as they grew into adults.
I really thought I was prepared for this empty nest gig. I mean, I have hobbies and friends and...a life. I am thrilled to get back to some things that I've put on the back burner for a long, long time. I feel fulfilled and content. Yet there are some days that the nest feels so...well...empty. It feels a little like grief. It comes in waves, in moments like the one in my bed, thinking about our family that was. Don't get me wrong, our family still is, but it is different now. Not a bad different, just different. Like when you buy a fabulous pair of shoes and they are slightly uncomfortable but you know that when they are broken in they will be just right. It's hard to sit in discomfort though. I'm scrunching my nose up as I think about it. I just want everything to feel right again, but I actually don't know what right feels like. I don't know how this new normal is supposed to feel. I guess I'll just thud around in this new pair of shoes until they feel better. Clomp around a bit until I feel more comfortable. I'll stretch and press into this new stage of my life.
And now instead of peace and quiet, I just wish for peace. Peace for what life is now and for what life is to become. Peace that my children are safe and happy. Peace that God is watching over them. Peace that we've given them a solid foundation. Peace that we've done all we could to set them up to be successful, kind and compassionate adults. Peace in my impatience. Peace in my discomfort. Peace in my worry.
Peace that life is unfolding exactly as it should.