Friday, August 12, 2011

new seasons of life

Every time I think to write on this blog I run it past my internal editor. My internal editor is a very thin pastor's wife with a slightly burnt perm, glasses on the end of her nose, two dark thick hairs growing out of a mole on her chin and a ruler in her hand that smacks me on the head when I propose a provocative idea. She wafts by, leaving an odor a bit like over sweet fake perfume and is worried about what everyone thinks of her (us). I don't like her but she is useful, so I keep her around. She's a real prude around me but I have the sneaking feeling that when I am not looking she has a secret life.

So... there are lots of things I don't write, and topics I decide against. This is one of them, really. I want to talk about a new time in my life, but I don't want my kids to read it and feel any sense of needing to change or alter what they are doing. You see, my new season of being involves their new seasons of being.

So here I go.

My kids don't need me. STOP. NO. I know they 'need me' emotionally, and they love me and all that. But it is right and good that they are all owning their lives, making decisions without me, planning for a future that will not include me. Because I will be dead. That is the raw truth. In every arena of life this is enacted. Nothing grows on forever. Life is renewed by fresh life, new life - in short, the young. Old die and young are born.

I have finished doing my essential work to secure the continuation of the species. I have had young and raised them. Now they have young and are raising them. (Except in a dream last night - very vivid - I was pregnant at 55. A vivid and disturbing experience~!)

One of my friends told me that at our age we need to sit on the front porch of our kid's lives and yell at them through the screen door. I think it is more like this: we need to sit on the porch of our kid's lives and wait gently, until they yell out the screen door at us. And sometimes they will invite us in and have tea and tell us things but we shouldn't stay too long. A parent can overstay a welcome.

Every time I am with my kids I feel this. I know it is right and good. There are simply times and decisions in which we (Big Steve and I) are only adding bulk. And there are times we are plainly uninvited, not because we are a problem but because we are, well, the previous generation.

I am not hurt about this. I recognize this to be right and good. I know that as I let go of control everyone is happier. Really, what is happening is that I must take care of my own emotional needs and not put them on my kids. My daughter's friend group cannot be my friend group. My kids have to put their main focus on their budding families and the work of daily life they are embroiled in. The main work is not about me. Maybe the day will come when I will be so needy they will be in a place of paying attention to my needs. But not this season.

So... here is what I am feeling lately. And Rachel, do NOT feel guilty or call me or let this add to your life load. I miss my daughter. I miss that we are not calling and chatting or sharing life or laughing and telling stories. But I know that she is in the middle of a very intense time of spiritual struggle, negotiating life with her husband, managing and loving her emerging teen girls, holding down a job, trying to keep her body healthy, hosting her in-laws for a couple weeks at her home, keeping up with friends and participating in a budding church. I know that she loves me but we are not communicating and I miss that.

Now - if you are not my daughter but this is triggering all kinds of reactions in you - pay attention to your responses before you post a comment. I am truthful when I say that this is a good and growing place for me - quieting my heart down from my longings and simply being on the front porch of her life until she can find the time to invite me in, or come out and sit for a minute with me.

The last thing I want is for my kids to be burdened by my satisfaction. I want them to grin when they think of me. I can wait. And I am growing into a new season that is pretty cool when you think of it. I have more space, more quiet, more time to read and garden, and develop a few meaningful friendships. I can afford all the shoes I want.

When she has passed this whirlwind and steps out onto her porch, I will be sitting there. Not with a sarcastic comment about missing her. But with a calm heart and a cup of tea and a maybe a funny line. I want to do this season well. I am going to do it well. I will demonstrate love by being at peace with myself and not grasping at her life. This is love. This is good. Very very good. And I am still figuring it out.


Krissi said...

You will not die. EVER.

Karin Thorne said...

I am so glad to have found your blog - your words are resonating within me as I'm in a new season - the "who in the world am I and what should I be doing?" stage, with grown and nearly grown children and a completely open canvas spreading in front of me. I am learning to look forwards instead of looking back at the seasons that are finished and you are helping me do that - even though I am way over here in Malaysia! Thanks!!

Erin Crisp said...

Do you think my mom would be offended if I sent this to her? ;)

Seriously though, I needed this reminder today, to evaluate my perspective on my children- requiring something of them- like a forced allegiance- instead of being a warm place where they can return after their adventures.

Anonymous said...

My aunt Dot is 96 yrs. old. Her 8 children graduated from the same high school over the 1952-1972 time span. The older 2 or 3, ages 73, 75 and 77 go to the yearly combined class reunions. The other "kids" from their respective classes have always asked fondly about their mother, Dot since they spent a lot of their teenaged years around her. At the urging of the members of the classes, about 10 years ago, she started to travel to the reunions too so the other "kids" could visit with her. She is an unassumingly wise and inviting woman. All ages love and admire her. She relates, with that lively twinkle in her eye, in-the-moment to all that pass through whether its her children, grandchildren, friends or their friends and this neice. I want to be that woman too.

Karla said...

This gives me courage and insight. Thank you!