Tag Archives: family

The Nest

When I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, I led a seminar in the church I was serving on “How to Cope When Your Kids Go to College.” I have a background in Pastoral Counseling so I guess I believed I was using that knowledge to teach. Now, I just think it is hilarious and I’m surprised they didn’t throw things at me for not knowing what I was talking about.

I remember talking about grief, change and how having a child move out alters your family system. I talked about finances and the demand college expenses places on families. At the very end, a man in the back and raised his hand and asked, “Is it possible this could also be very fun?” The teacher (me) and the rest of the class seemed frozen in time for a minute. We looked at each other and quietly decided that fun just might be possible.

Fast forward almost three decades and I feel more qualified to speak on the issue. We have successfully sent two children to college and in about a week we will drop off our third child there  We are about to experience an empty nest.

We have literally been parenting now for 29 years straight. We have had kids in our home that entire time. How incredibly weird it feels to look up, look at each other and say, “Wow, that was distracting.” And, “You look different.”  “What year is it now?”

This time, with this kid moving out it feels different to me. First, for whatever reason, he’s more pleasant at this stage of his life than the other two were. He’s talkative and interesting.  He will cook, mow and run errands happily with no expectation of money or reward. He’s musical and fills our home with piano and guitar music and songs of all types. He’s funny. Secondly, I’ve been able to spend his senior year not working so we’ve bonded. I’m going to miss him. I told him I got a job at his college in the dining hall just so I can see him at meal times. He did not think this was funny nor a good idea.  I loved the idea except for the hair net issue. Thirdly, this time the next will really be empty. No extra kids left to parent after this one.

Yesterday, at church, a lot of moms with kids this age were crying. We needed a support group or something. Some of the kids were too.

It is really hard after pouring yourself into someone and spending 19 years loving, protecting, worrying and hovering, to send them off. It just is.

How I plan to cope:

-I’m going to let myself grieve and acknowledge that I miss him.

-I’m going to stay appropriately in touch. Some soon-to-be college parents were talking about devising a communication code with their kids where the students will text SA if they are still alive. I’m going to ask for more than that, for my sake.

-I’m going to continue with all my healthy habits: exercise, journaling, drinking lots of water every day, yoga.

-I’m going to have fun with the guy I married.

-I’m going to focus on the projects in my life that give me meaning, purpose and joy. There’s so much need in our world, so many ways I can love.

-Oh, and I’ve decide it is not an empty nest, at all. It is just a bigger nest. My nest stretches from Grapevine, to Frisco, to Houston and now out to College Station. And actually my nest has more eggs in it than ever with a son-in-law and now, a grandson too.

-If all that fails, I’m getting a hair net and you’ll see me at Duncan Dining Hall at Texas A&M happily distributing scrambled eggs. It’s always good to have a back-up plan.

 

 

 

One Little Word: Hope

On MLK day 2017, I feel nudged to write. The problem is I have so few words today.

I’m finding myself in a season of disappointment around some extended family things; some things in our country and the even Cowboys losing a heart breaker last night. Strangely, everything seems connected/heightened and intensified  by social media. I even found myself this week tweeting a member of congress a word of encouragement. I’ve never done that before but it seemed like the right thing to do.

So in these days of confusion, anxiety and disappointment what is the good word?

I found it today delivered to me, once again in a devotional: Psalm 33:22, which reminded me that hope comes from God. Hope doesn’t come from tweets or any one leader. It doesn’t come from what my relatives are doing with their lives. Hope doesn’t come from what I can control or do or say. It comes from God.

When I find myself disappointed, it is usually because I misplaced hope. I put my trust in the wrong place, the wrong people, the wrong outcome.

MLK himself also delivered me a word today, “We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.”

There will always be finite disappointment as long as there are people around I suppose.. Today, for me, there are also deep breaths and a little reminder that changes everything: to trust just in God, our infinite hope.

MLK, thank you for your vision, your leadership and courage….and this Word.    .

Milestone Moments

60 years. My parents celebrated 60 years of marriage this weekend. I know, that’s a lot of years of marriage. We chose a low-key celebration at their home. All four of their children were present for the day, which is rare, along with some significant others and a few grandchildren. We played games, ate their favorite barbecue, remembered a few stories together, teased each other and then played more games.  My family is like yours, awash in family dynamics, so we had all of that going, of course.  We had a family meeting to talk about the future which was brave and important and something I would recommend every family do.

Our different resentments, issues and decades long baggage were all present and accounted for. Through the day, we had tears, tension and laughter.  Some of us were hot and would crack a window secretly until other people figured it out and were freezing. We repeated the window thing all day.

We asked my parents to please tell us the secret to marriage. My dad said the secret is just two words, “Yes Ma’am.” I like that. Then my mom chimed in and said the secret was respect. I like that too. She still calls my dad her boyfriend and repeatedly tells us how much she likes him and how cute he is. She made a couple of clear, heartfelt speeches telling us how much she has loved her life, her work, her travels, her children, her grandchildren and great-grandson. Alzheimer’s evidently took the day off for this anniversary milestone, so imagine that.

60 years takes you through so many seasons, so many dynamics, so many homes and jobs and friends. 60 years presents different challenges at different times and my family has weathered a few.

Almost everything these days makes me feel grateful, blessed and amazed. Milestone moments highlight the blessings.

We all looked at their wedding pictures. They still have the cake topper from their wedding cake. Some of us did little photo collages and put the pictures on Facebook or Instagram so others could see our celebration.

My husband’s grandmother always used to remind me that I was rich, rich, rich. On Saturday it felt like she was so right.

Celebrate!

Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it in its fullness.” John 10:10

Oprah said, “The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”

I love it when my favorite people agree on things.

With our new grandson, we are in a season of celebration. Recently, my daughter told me she felt a little weird with everyone giving them presents, meals, showers and parties just for having a baby. I told her, “Life is hard and peopel need reasons to celebrate. Everyone loves celebrating a baby. Let them.”

But it is more than the grandson. It is me being in a new, easier, more restful, peaceful season of life. (On Monday my one chore was to get two hummingbird feeders, fill them and hang them because now I have time to notice them.) It is being five years past breast cancer. It is having three beautiful children who are at the moment happy and engaged with life. It is having a loving attentive husband that I still like after 31 years together. Did I tell you our sweet grand baby was born on our 31st anniversary? No one could have planned that gift.

It is that fall is coming; I am sure of it.  It is last Saturday having two family gatherings at our home and seeing our grandson meet 2 sets of great grandparents, 2 great aunts, aunts, uncles and cousins for the first time. It was my mom’s 80th birthday too. We surprised her with her great-grandson. She screamed, smiled and cried and told me it was the best birthday party she’d ever had. Even Alzheimer’s couldn’t take away that joy. One tiny baby and all those relatives just lining up for a snuggle, a smile.  We even loved it when he cried.

It is tomorrow, the 28th anniversary of when I became a mom. I celebrate the wonder of watching our daughter grow from adorable baby, to funny toddler, to goofy child who made up her own words, to awkward middle school kid, to dramatic high school student, college girl, married woman, speech therapist and now happy, attentive new mommy/wife and professional. The girl who made up all those words is teaching kids how to say them right. My celebration cup seems like it can’t hold one more drop of joy.

There’s still hard stuff happening, of course. A funeral for a dear, longtime colleague, gone too soon; normal worries; aches and pains; life stuff. But laced through it all are sweet gifts: sunrises, sunsets, hummingbirds, babies, soft pillows, good books, friends, coffee, family, milestones… so much to celebrate!

Real Life Infused with the Sacred

I love the word infused.  It means to fill or pervade or even to soak, like a tea bag in a cup of water.

As school starts today, summer pretty much ends, except the hot, humid weather part. Everyone in my family started school today except the dog and me. Our daughter started her job today as a grown up speech pathologist.  Our middle son began his teaching and coaching career with his first day in the classroom today.  Our youngest began his junior year of high school.  My husband began his 30th-or so year in education.  While they were all out educating or being educated, I was left with a quiet house and a semi-empty schedule to reflect on the summer.

It has been infused with sacred summertime moments.  I made batch after batch of homemade ice cream this summer due to the no Blue Bell ice cream thing we had happening here.  There is something sacred about homemade ice cream, especially that first “test” bite right out of the container.

We all got to go the beach together for a week–porch time looking over the ocean, long walks in the mornings, shared meals, a 30th wedding anniversary, games, cards, good books, long naps, shrimp, shrimp, shrimp.  Sacred gifts all.

Lake time. There was lake time for my husband, puppy and me.  More porch time looking over the water. Floating in the lake, becoming a landing pad for blue dragonflies. A nap on a screened in porch with a storm rolling through with thunder and everything.  I cried, I did, it was so relaxing, gorgeous and rainy.  Our friends joined us there too. People we’ve known for 35 years.  How sacred and deep are friendships like that?

At the Farmer’s Market sacred things happened this summer as we took our time and bought peaches, watermelon, vegetables, cantaloupe, tomatoes. The joy I had tipping the little girl who helped me. Doing the same exact thing again two weeks later to the same little girl.

In between it all, the rhythm of work, worship, our daily routines, ministry. In the midst of the summer,  school supplies were provided for all those children I was worried about plus 1600 new backpacks. The fair happened and it was a beautiful coming together of the community on behalf of children in need. It was infused with the sacred.

At church we are starting a new sermon series which explores how God is present in the routine and rituals of each day. I’m excited about it.  God, infusing our seasons. God infusing our days. Thanks be to God.      .

A Few Precious Seconds When Everything Fell Together

    I’m about to write about something that can barely even be put into words.  On Saturday, at Texas A&M, our son, a Senior member of the Corps of Cadets led his outfit in their traditional March In into the stadium prior to the Aggie football game.  That was impressive, but that is not what I’m trying to put into words.

    On the curb watching, along with myself and my husband (Aggie Band ’84),  were our daughter and son in law (a past member of the Aggie Corps of Cadets), our parents, both sets, including my Dad, (Aggie Corps ’56) our 15 year old and several thousand other people.  When our son, marched by, his outfit did a special salute to my husband.  It lasted only a few seconds but it was as if in that moment time stood still and yet clicked into place with a depth, richness and grace that is almost too brilliant to look at for long. 

    I can barely put it into words but I’m going to try:  it’s about love–our parents’ love stories, both sets married over 50 years; the love story my husband and I have shared for 30 plus years which started and that same University, our daughter and son in law’s love story which began there as well.  It is the love story of two sets of grandparents who invested all this love and time into their children and grandchildren. 

    It’s about respect.  How many young adults or teens want to honor their parents or grandparents?  How many treasure a long conversation or the chance to salute someone who invested in them?

   It’s about friendship.  We have Aggie friends now for over 30 years; the same friends.  Our stories are all intertwined.  Our real life challenges are intertwined…we’ve experienced engagements, marriages, divorces, death, sickness, job loss and disappointments through the years.  Oh yes, and lots of tailgates, food, wins and losses.

   When I think about those six seconds, when my son said confidently, “Eyes right” and he and his Aggie buddies saluted my husband, it all clicked into place.  We have a deep, rich, blessed life.  It was so beautiful and filled with grace, I can barely find words to describe it.        

Last Day

My family arrives late tonight. Solitude soon over. I’ve been sitting still so long the animals aren’t afraid of me. I’m like Dr. Doolittle or something.

This morning a tiny bird landed about three feet from me and started singing. He was so little but so loud, like surround sound. A giant brown shiny lizard made himself known. Yesterday I counted 10 light blue dragonflies using me as their mother ship as I lounged in the lake. I met a grasshopper as he smacked into my leg. I didn’t stay still for that. I met a turtle on my walk. He didn’t trust me and retreated into his shell. I wish we all had a retreat house on our backs.

i believe God really does speak to us in and through creation. In fact, I’m starting to think God enjoys showing off all those sights, sounds, colors and creatures. What a show!

I’m ready to see the human creatures who I share life with. Solitude is good. So is family-animal and human.