Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Gains and Losses

(this little guy is off to college)

I am gearing up emotionally for a couple weeks of big transitions and that dreaded word: change.  School is starting soon and for the first time in decades I will have no little ones home during the day (there was a brief time for four months when I was pregnant with Patrick, and Andrew was in preschool that I was home alone for a couple hours-I went out and bought a puppy go figure!)

We will also only have three children home as my third goes off to college.  I helped moved my oldest to his own apartment in Washington DC-no roommates finally and he is thrilled to be on his own, working hard at a job he loves and meeting new people in a big city.  Our nest gets smaller.  I don't dare take out a leaf in the kitchen table-it just seems like I bought that big long table anyways, so we could all fit, with room for a high chair.  Now, like a boat listing, we will weigh heavy on one end.

This is when I am told, I start thinking about all the things that are just for me.  Maybe a part-time job, volunteering, hobbies, exercise classes, time to cook in peace, to get the worn house in shape and to heal from a health crisis-what makes my soul sing?  That is a wonderful question to be able to ask. What an opportunity to have this time and so many choices.  We worked hard for it, having the gift of being home full-time all those years, giving 24/7, but now the days stretch before me, no little ones to tend to-that has always been by soul's favorite familiar song.  I anticipate a too-quiet house, toys put away, no little voices and pitter-patters.

I am so anxious about the first day of everyone back to school, tears fill my eyes thinking about it. I know that transitions are difficult until the new normal settles.  If I don't gloss the past with sentimentality (something I have a tendency to do), some of those years I couldn't wait for the routine of school to start, for a little more structure to our days, and a little more calmness-some days stretched me to my breaking points, some made me wish for just a moment alone in the bathroom for God's sake.  But I gave them my all, and I wouldn't trade a thing for that blessed opportunity to share my days no matter what they ended up like.  Now the season of little ones home are gone-they seem to have flown by, just like all those old ladies said they would.

Embracing change is the key to enjoying life, especially at my age.  I am going to try hard to look at all the gains I will be experiencing and not the losses, because there are so many gains.  I am going to focus on how grateful I was to experience decades of at-home mothering of littles.  I attended a beautiful funeral this summer and one of the gentleman's famous words were "How lucky we are to feel this way."  Think of how many of life's moments this applies to-loss, and sorrow, grief and exhaustion and of course all the good moments too.

How lucky am I to feel a loss because that means I truly appreciated and adored a long season of life.  How lucky I am to feel grief because that means I truly loved my time with my children with every part of myself.  How lucky I am to feel discontentment because that means I once felt very content. And, more so than ever, how lucky I am to be alive, to celebrate a new beginning.

30 comments :

  1. Beautiful thoughts as always, Sarah. Thanks for this lovely, fresh perspective.

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  2. How lucky are we to be gifted your beautiful perspective. Reading your words brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes at the thought of my nest growing smaller. And I still have a little one at home when my others go to school next week, so I have a ways to go! What a gift life is!

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  3. I've never commented on a blog, but I feel compelled. What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing. Every Mom in this "stage of life" can relate to your words. Thank you.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. Your words are always such a gift.

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  5. How lucky we all are that you are healing and sharing your thought with us wishing you peace and eventually contentment with this new phase.

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  6. Beaitiful and wise words. I am glad you shared them.

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  7. Your comment about the big table reminded me of a quote from the book A Lantern in her Hand. My absolute favorite book. I have this quote saved so I can reflect on it...
    “What memories do you have, Grandma?"
    "I have many... There are many memories. But I'll tell you the one I like to think of best of all. It's just a homely everyday thing, but to me it is the happiest of them all. It is evening time here in the old house and the supper is cooking and the table is set for the whole family. It hurts a mother, Laura, when the plates begin to be taken away one by one. First there are seven and then six and then five... and on down to a single plate. So I like to think of the table set for the whole family at supper time. The robins are singing in the cottonwoods and the late afternoon sun is shining across the floor. Will, your grandfather, is coming in to supper... and the children are all playing out in the yard. I can hear their voices and happy laughter. There isn't much to that memory, is there? Out of a lifetime of experiences you would hardly expect that to be the one I would choose as the happiest, would you? But it is. The supper cooking, the table set for the whole family, the afternoon sun across the floor, the robins singing in the cottonwoods, the children's merry voices, Will coming in, eveningtide."

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    1. Oh my goodness-this brought tears to my eyes. So true-it's not the big milestone events or the vacations-it's just everyone being together. I'm about to welcome my two youngest home for camp, right before my oldest goes back to college, and this weekend is the only time this summer that all six of us are home.

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    2. Thank you Lisa, my favorite book too and I remember that exactly-I have the page turned down!

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    3. I don’t know if your remember this but Sarah recommended this book years ago. I also loved it. That passage stuck with me. It once again reminds me to feel blessed in the chaos of 5 children.

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  9. Sarah--I am right there with you. Our youngest son is off to college in two weeks and we will truly be "empty nesters". I am dreading the quiet house and empty bedrooms. I know I will shed many tears. This stage of life is a strange dichotomy of deep sadness and extreme pride. Our kids are doing exactly what we have prayed for and trained them to do--go out and make a godly impact on our society for GOOD! But, oh, the feeling of loss is keen. I am continually reminding myself of the quote "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened." I wouldn't trade anything for the years I've had at home with my kids, and I'm trying my darndest to look forward to new adventures with my amazing husband. Love and prayers to you!

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  10. Sarah, I am reminded of a wonderful poem nu Herman Jesse. It paints the picture of our live as walking from room to room. We have no choice but to cross every doorway and accept out new calling. It ends with the line "and in the crossing of every doorway we are guided and guarded and supported by the special magic that lies in every transition." Hard to translate from German! Love, Sophie.

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    1. https://lyricstranslate.com/en/stufen-phases.html

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    2. Thank you, that's beautiful!

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  11. Wow. Beautiful post. The last paragraph ... the best thing. Ever.

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  12. Love your blog. So inspiring! I also appreciate reading something that doesn't have ads popping up all over. Thank you for that too:)

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  13. Sarah,
    This post is so beautiful.
    You inspire me.
    I know you will find your new normal in your next chapter of motherhood.
    Game Show Network helps!!!
    MatchGame from the 70's is the best. : )

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  14. Sarah,
    Well said. I too have an empty house now but will be blessed with our first granddaughter in September. I will be retiring from a 36 year nursing career next year. New chapter. There’s always a new exciting chapter. Enjoy! Debbie

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  15. Oh gosh...made me weepy!!! I have 2 boys off at college and my daughter is a sophomore this year...but she has always been homeschooled~ so I never have a whole school year alone. But, I wouldn't trade it for a minute!!! My oldest is in his last semester at college and got married back in April....let me tell ya~ we are NEVER ready for that!!! LOL!! I just kept thinking about bringing him home from the hospital....aaaaaaall the feels mama!! I agree with you 100% Sarah~ we are sad because that beautiful, tender chapter is closing~ but we can be so grateful that we had all the years and special moments with them. Especially those of us blessed to get to stay home all their babyhood/childhood days and raise them. I know how you feel~ it is the Bittersweet things all the old granny's at church told me then my babies were born. Thank you Lord for those memories!! And keep us posted what you do find to fill your days with!!! I know it will be something that blesses other people~ you are a giver! Bless you sweet Sarah!

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  16. I’m bawling. Another one of mine starts kindergarten this year, and I am so sad about it especially since it is all day kindergarten. Not my first, not my last, and I still turn into an emotional mess that another one is off to school all day for 9 months of the year.

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  17. That’s just beautiful, I cannot get that beautiful scene out of my head, I have never heard of that book but I’m going to look it up, would love to read it.

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  18. Write a book. We all need more of your wisdom in our lives. Bless you.

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  19. Oh Sarah, this is so, so beautiful.

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  20. I agree with Hillary! Write a book!
    My youngest went to college last year. It has been a difficult change for me but I am trying to find my footing. I am so glad you are back blogging. I love to read all your advice and I am so praising Jesus that you are in remission! Praise Jesus!

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  21. This is so beautiful, I'm printing it to put somewhere I can read often. You have a gift with words and I'm thankful you're willing to share it with all of us.

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  22. This is such a beautiful reflexion, Sarah. It's so necessary to remind ourselves of these blessings when we're in the trenches and are simply exhausted! Thank you.

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  23. What beautiful insights, Sarah. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this with us. I agree with the others - please write a book. You are such an inspiration!

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  24. I'm feeling well enough that I can sit down at the computer and read through your recent posts (chemo 3 was just yesterday so yay for that!). But I can't even say how much I appreciate your wisdom. Especially your last paragraph on this post. I'm so glad you are healing and sharing your thoughts again. We need you! And your friendship to me recently has meant the world. Thank you!

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