Archive for the ‘transitions’ Category

Little Things   Leave a comment

I thought I would get off scott-free this time, when the entire first week of school went by and I felt perfectly normal.

After all, we’ve already done this.  We’ve said goodbye to our son in the dorm lobby, prayed with him, and hauled the huge tubs back to the van for the trip back home so he doesn’t have to try to store them in his dorm.

It is different this time.  It just didn’t register as fast.

But about ten days in, I started feeling a bit raw.

Small things.  Or maybe big things.  How big is an empty bedroom?  It has clean sheets piled on the bed, that hasn’t been re-made yet.

Well, mistakenly setting the table for five. That’s relatively small.

So is thinking the van would be completely packed for the trip to the concert last Sunday with Grandma and Grandpa.  Then eventually the realization that there are not seven people in this party.

What however is the littlest painful thing?

It’s what’s missing.

There’s a little cheerful bright blue light on our router that remains on whenever wireless is working.  Zach finally asked me to stop turning it off each morning and just leave it so he could do his online class this summer. He promised me the radiation wouldn’t damage me significantly. So it was on from mid-June until he left.

Now it isn’t.

Each time I see that, right next to the fridge and the trash in the kitchen, where I am working all the time, it scrapes the wound again.

It’s tender and doesn’t like being picked back off. It flares in a burst of remembrance, concern, grief, loss, panic, all in about two seconds and then settles down again to just plain remembering.  But that’s kind of how it goes.

 

Posted September 19, 2014 by swanatbagend in transitions

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Increasing Maturity?   Leave a comment

Since I moved here 8 years ago I have noticed that people I meet seem to think I know what I’m doing and that I am not merely a functioning adult, but someone they can assume has parenting experience and will be around to rely on if they need some support.

Now that I’m 47 and have one homeschool graduate to my credit, have done the high school and college admissions thing before, I can understand that view.

What I want to trumpet to the world, about every other day or so, is, “No! I really don’t know what I’m doing!  I have fears and questions, regrets and concerns.  I have challenges each day about which I could use the advice and support of someone older, smarter, and more experienced.”

But it seems like once you reach a certain point, you get so good at what you do, that your wish to be supported fades into the background.

I like talking with other mothers, being a listening ear, and providing support in hard times.  It’s good to have experience and to have made it through difficult situations. That’s a gift which I’ve been given, and I’m glad I can give back.

Still, I have had a difficult time adjusting to the reality that I am now that older, wiser person.

Despite having lived a few years above the age of 40 now, I don’t grasp it. Maybe I don’t want to.  I guess as with any change there is both good and bad, and I do miss feeling like there is someone older and wiser watching out for me.

But I had found myself thinking that I had been forced into this new role without any transitional help. Then I realized the other night after processing for a while that this idea was incorrect.

1. First I had about 20 years being a young woman and being loved on and mentored by a lot of fantastic people, peers and adults. (I’m thinking of Marilyn Howe, Carylion Kennedy, Gina Humphrey, Sandy Bumpus, Anne Dunton, Anni Miller, Kathleen Woolsey,  Beckie Johnson, Lynn Ericson and many more)

2. Then I had about 20 more years of some mentoring and a lot of mutual support in relationships with peers. (Here mentors are Judy Calkin, Doris Musser, Kim Gardner, Chris Jolly)

3. Bringing us to the future, where I have made the transition to being more mentor than mentoree. (Here’s Susan Jackson)

So I realized that this trajectory is not all that unusual.  In fact, I suspect this is how it’s supposed to work.

For whatever reason, this made it easier to comprehend why I am where I am now.

The only thing I’m wondering is, what will the years from 60 to 80 look like?

Should be fun.

 

Posted July 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in identity, transitions

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My Filing Cabinet   1 comment

I’ve always had a great memory.  I am known among friends and acquaintances, who turn to me for obscure song lyrics from the 70s and 80s, other people’s telephone numbers and addresses, specifics about things we did together in the past…that kind of thing.

Not to mention the important stuff.  I never forget birthdays, anniversaries, what’s important to someone, where he’s from, what she does for a living, either.

That is…I never used to.

But something started happening when I turned 40.

I know, I know, huge stereotype, right?

But for me, literally, when I turned 40, that very year is when things started getting erased from the hard drive.

Now I can still remember songs from the 80s and some phone numbers from about ten years ago, you know incredibly useful stuff like that, but meeting new people and successfully storing their names in the gray matter has gotten way harder.  And it’s continuing to get more difficult, despite working hard to pull that stuff into the “keeper” file.

It’s the strangest feeling having your children tell you about something that happened last month or a few years ago and it’s blank.

They are at least tolerant of this weakness, and they like the metaphor I used to describe my situation.

You see, life is full and has been ever since I started giving birth to them.  So life is like a pick-up truck roaring down the interstate at 70 miles an hour.

In the back of the pick-up is an old, grey, extremely battered metal filing cabinet.

And as I drive wildly down the road of my life, the drawers rattle open from all the movement and action.  Guess what happens next?

Bits of white notebook paper come shooting violently out of the loose drawers of my mind.  So as I go I leave a trail of confetti.

Yep, that’s what it feels like.  There just isn’t room for any more  information, for one thing, and the speed of life demands that the time I have be spent in the present and planning for the future, so I don’t have time to turn around and try to collect all that lost information.

So, if I forget something about you, or the last time we got together, and what we did — don’t take it personally.  It’s just the state of my filing cabinet .

 

 

 

Posted July 2, 2014 by swanatbagend in mental health, transitions

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What’s This Supposed to Look Like?   1 comment

Zach came home from college on April 28th and I haven’t written much since then due to spending my time trying to figure out how it works to live with an adult child in the best possible way.

I think I know what I ought to do and what I want to do, but I’m not sure it’s actually working out that way.

It is clear that a child who is now over the age of 18 and has been eating, sleeping, studying, working, and traveling without you for the past eight months, clearly does not need your help.  He is a paid employee of the university he attends.  He went to a country on another continent and back, which you have never done.

But since you’re the mom, and you’ve been refining your mom instincts and your mom gig for the past almost 19 years, it’s very difficult to just put that down and set it aside.  It’s programmed.  It’s biological. It’s common sense.  It’s your life’s work here.  You’re good at helping, shepherding, cleaning, feeding, directing and loving.

How do you do that only enough to be supportive and useful, not annoying?

As an adult child, I know what I like from my parents.  I like encouragement , respect, and an attitude of confidence that I’m doing well and I can handle things.  I also like to know that if I change my mind about being able to handle things…..they will be there as backup.  Of course, it’s possible that my adult child has a different list for how he wants to be treated now that he’s an adult.

Zach and I have talked about it a little, and there have been a few times since he’s been home when he has let me know, usually with a little gentle sarcasm, that he will survive if I will back off.

Like the evening last week when he left for a night tutoring appointment, and apparently I was  hovering too much, because he told me he was unlikely to get killed traveling there and back, that I should go to bed instead of waiting up for him, and that he had the sense to call me if he needed something.

At the same time that he requires respect and autonomy, he is glad to be home enjoying home cooking and hugs from his mother and father.  He needs time with us, to enjoy our company, and get some TLC after a challenging first year of college.

It’s not either/or, it’s both/and, I guess.

Posted June 18, 2014 by swanatbagend in parenting, transitions

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Communication and Interaction: Tips for What you May Notice When You’re Over 40   Leave a comment

Anyone who’s under 40 should definitely read this. Maybe even under 35.

I have a few observations that might be helpful to you as you get older.

The rules change as you get older, and although it might not have done me any good, I wish someone told me these things.  Here’s what I have noticed.

1.  In any group social setting, assume that, if you are older than the people around you, they expect you to initiate the conversation. This applies whether you have never met them or whether you already know them.  So it wouldn’t hurt to stop worrying about whether anyone is noticing you, and notice them by saying hello, smiling, or whatever comes to mind.

2.  People will also assume that, because you are older, you are wiser.  You know things they don’t know. This is, I suppose, true.  A practical application is that they think you already know things, already have friends, already made it through that problem or situation, and they won’t realize you may be just as lost as they are, just as in need of friendship as they are, just as in need of wisdom for the next life event as they are. They will most likely look up to you for what you have accomplished and assume that it was some special knowledge that got you there.

3.  Be OK with the fact that you will not be noticed for your accomplishments, your looks (because you probably don’t have those any more), your hipness (because you aren’t) or your cuteness.  And if like me you have been a big pea in a small pod most of your life, realize that will change.  All you’re experiencing is what other people live every day.  You don’t need other people to ask you how you are, what you think, or what is new in your life, as much as it may feel that you need that.  God will provide exactly what you need, and his attention and regard is yours, all the time.  You have the opportunity to really get to know the people around you, by initiating contact with them and listening to how they are doing and where they are in their lives.  You have something they don’t: experience.  Let them benefit from it.

Acceptance of your new role and position is a hard change, but it’s your best option.  I have wasted too much time analyzing what is different now, what am I doing to put people off, why are people here less friendly than everywhere else I have ever lived, and all of those questions have not really gotten me anywhere.  What I want is to go with what is, and be content.

I hope that for you forewarned will be forearmed.  Just go with it.  It will be different, but different is not necessarily bad.  (Yes, I know it’s scary, but repeat with me while I keep repeating to myself: different is not necessarily bad.)  Hard, yes.  Different, yes.  New, yes. Feels odd, yes.  All that is true.  But I am confident that there is a divine purpose to go along with the new reality.

And hey, being perceived as an expert is part of your new reality.  And I  like that.

Posted March 2, 2014 by swanatbagend in servanthood, transitions

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7 years   Leave a comment

That’s how long it took.

I finished a great week last night.  Somehow, despite my efforts to have social occasions spread throughout the weeks and months, I had five get-togethers with important people in the last seven days.  It made an extremely enjoyable week for me, however, and since we were on winter break, I was doubly able to enjoy it.

In fact it was probably the nicest basic week that I’ve had since we moved here in 2006.

Last summer I realized that I was no longer lost when trying to get somewhere, no longer at loose ends either at church or in general as far as picking up conversations and seeing friends.  Sure there are always slow times, but something was different.

I know how to cut through neighborhoods and take the short cuts.  I know that if I cut through on English Station, I’ll end up at Shelbyville Road.  I have an intuitive sense of which way to go in the city, that is actually right, thankfully.

And while I don’t usually see that many friends in a week, and I don’t get to see them often, due to living the country life which means that my social interactions are of the Pioneer Woman Quilting Bee frequency, I do have friends that I see on a regular basis and not only that,  friends with whom I have actual history.

That’s it then, many of them are no longer new friends.

And there are things about the city that I want to share with people who come to visit.  So that means that finally, after seven years, this place finally feels like home.

And I’m thinking, doggone it, it took long enough!

I had no idea when we moved here that it would be like that.  I’m an expert mover and I know how to make friends, so I assumed that, after a year or two of basic effort, we would have a network of friends and feel like we belonged.

But that did not happen.

I’ve given that situation way more thought than it deserves and still don’t really have an answer beyond a few thoughts.  I mainly think that our culture has become much more disconnected and busy and fragmented during the 90s and early 200os than I realized.  So that by the time we moved, after twelve years in one county, things were truly really different, and I was not prepared for the sheer amount of effort and work it takes to develop one single ongoing friendship.

So, 7 years.

It wasn’t ideal, but I certainly have a high level of appreciation for the friends I now have.

Posted February 23, 2014 by swanatbagend in gratitude, transitions

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One step Closer   Leave a comment

One step closer to ….what?

I hope, to leaving bitterness behind.

I found out mid-November that something I had enjoyed and counted on would no longer be happening.  I was relatively upset.  I’d invested in it, enjoyed the time doing it and the interactions with the people involved, and I just felt sad that it would shortly be ending.

My usual self-defense mode seems to be to go straight on to anger and bitterness, or alternatively, to start worrying about what will replace something I’m losing or what will happen next.

So for a few hours that afternoon, I was both sad and upset.

However, something strange happened with this situation. Either someone was praying for me, which could be, but it would have to be a generic prayer, because at that point, almost nobody knew about the situation or how strongly I felt about it.  Or Someone directly intervened and removed my usual obsessive negativity over the loss of something cherished.

I’ll take either one.

But what I hope is that it lasts into the future.  I hope, I hope, I pray, that this is the beginning of me graciously letting go of people and things and situations.

I’ve been so horribly bad about that, so inclined to stew, to get angry.

Now, two months have passed, and I’m still okay.  I remain amazed.  And grateful that I’m not stuck wasting time on what isn’t any more.

I’m at an OK place being in-between.

Posted January 24, 2014 by swanatbagend in transitions

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