Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ill-fitting skin

A few months ago I noticed my restlessness. I have a hard time describing the emotion exactly, but it felt like a mixture of boredom, annoyance, fear and exhaustion. I am a positive person. I am truly grateful for a circumstantially terrific life. I have strong feelings of purpose and hope for my eternal future. And yet, my skin just felt like it wasn't fitting just right.

Ahh, the beginnings of the proverbial mid-life crisis, I thought.  But there was no crisis. The more I examined my feelings, the more frustrated I became. On paper, it did not make any sense.

I don't want to run away from my life, but in some ways, I felt like it was running away from me. Our little one, who was here via foster care, went home to her biological family. My teenage children are moving rapidly toward independence--which is the goal, my husband reminds me. My husband has taken a passionate interest in his new hobby of flying...and I am just here holding down the fort--which I am truly so grateful to be able to do.

I have important and fulfilling roles and relationships outside of my family. My to-do list is never complete. And, yet, I could not find my mojo.

One afternoon, exhausted by wrestling with my thoughts on the matter, I called a friend of mine (who is also a counselor) and described my feelings. I explained that as I tried to pin down what I was lacking and express it to my family, I would be inexplicably annoyed by their attempts to meet the need. I imagined myself as a person trying to identify their craving--only to find they still felt empty after eating.

When I finished, my counselor friend said, "what you are describing sounds like grief. It doesn't always feel like you would expect and it operates on its own timeline."

As she spoke the words, I wept. She touched my soul with revelation and permission to stop trying to solve and instead just feel for a bit.

I am being forced into retirement from my favorite job I have ever had. Being a hands-on Mama to birdies in my nest has been incredibly stretching, humbling and satisfying. I don't want it to change! And while I know motherhood continues for decades, it shifts in ways that feel unfamiliar and uncertain to me.

In four short months, they will be driving themselves to and from school. Car conversations are my favorite and I am NOT ready to give those up. And yet, spreading their wings and learning to fly has always been my hope.

So forgive my silence in writing (and maybe my grumpiness in person), I am going through a thing over here.

Trusting the Lord. Asking Him to nip and tuck this old skin to fit the way my role is changing--and trying to savor all the car rides in between.

4 comments:

Jennifer Naddy said...

Jen,
I am right there with you. When your memory popped up of the children running at the shore, my thoughts were the same, joy and sadness all rolled up into feelings I cant always express. Thank you for putting into words what we are feeling as our kids become young adults. I'll pray for you and this new skin you are in.

Jacquie Reed said...

My favorite job of all times is being a mother. I feel your heart for your children's growing independence. I too valued the discussions we had in the car going to places and then home. I had their full attention. I think we experience grief throughout our years of being a mother - when they graduate from high school, college and then move on to a job. My best advice is to stay in as close touch as possible. I text my adult children "good-morning love" every morning and "good night love" every night - and sometimes text during the day and they are 35 and 41. Simple ways of letting them know work well for me. I also still write letters to them - something you might try when they go to college. Thinking of you as you grieve the loss of a stage in their lives. You are a great mother!!! You might enjoy finding a place to volunteer - helped me as they left home.

Felix Wenzel said...
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psm260 said...

I’m going thru this as an empty nester. The book, Barbara (Rainey) and Susan’s Guide to an Empty Nest has been very helpful. Reading it before the empty nest would be even better!