Archive for the ‘aging’ Tag

Things We Have to Find a Way to Make Peace with   Leave a comment

Things we have to find a way to make peace with:

Aging.

Our responsibilities to love and care for our children and help them toward adulthood.

Loving our children as they are, not as we imaged they would be or think they should be.

Years ago, before I started through this middle phase of life I thought I knew all these things were important things to accept.  It’s not like I’d never heard about these things.

Now I’m not so sure.  As in I’m not sure I accepted them nor did I know how hard it is to accept things that I can clearly see are right and rational.  Knowing something is true does not cause my mortal mind to accept it and move forward.  I know that I believe it.  I know that it’s true that these realities will happen and unfold around and in me and that they are in fact destined to do so.

But I still don’t truly know how to accept these truths.

That aging will happen, is happening to me and those I love.

(Not easy, still think I’m immortal just like a 10 year old does.)

That I had/have a responsibility to love my children well and help them an appropriate amount as they grown up.

(Not easy, because how the heck do you figure out what is truly needed for each child person you live with and what you’d better not even try?)

That I also have a responsibility to fully accept my children as they are, not as my foolish self thinks they should be.

(And not like I don’t love them and like them as they are, but I wonder if I must not fully accept them as they are, since my brain brings up sentences I could say that start with phrases like, “If you would just try…..,” or “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if you….,” or “Here’s how you….,” when advice is unasked.  Thankfully at least part of the time I don’t say these sentences, and remind myself that the particular thing I’m getting stuck on isn’t truly important.)

The second and third things make a great paradox don’t they?  I hope you noticed I have to make peace with my responsibility for my kids and my not responsibility for my kids.  Where’s the easy 1, 2, 3 step plan for that, please?  Did I miss the instruction manual?

 

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Posted August 14, 2019 by swanatbagend in parenting

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I’m getting older   Leave a comment

I realize this is painfully obvious.  But I just have to say it, to get it out of my system.

I’m — getting —  older!

Parents of young children look to me like they are still in college.  People in college look like they are in high school. People in high school certainly appear to be in middle school.  I’m only on base with children under 10 as far as guessing ages any more.

I look in the mirror.  I see grey hairs.  I see wrinkles.  Sure, I’ve had the wrinkles between my eyebrows ever since I got windburn on my motorcycle trip to Minnesota with Uncle Dwight when I was seventeen, but I have a lot more wrinkles than those now.

Please tell me that I’m not the only person who truly thought she would be exempt from growing old?

Growing up, yes, I saw that coming, but growing old, never.  Intellectually I know people don’t live forever.  But some part of me just seems to assume I will.

In the past, I observed other people’s children growing up, and read obituaries, and noticed those old people over there at the next table.

But now, yep.  I seem to actually be a member of the human race.  Just like those old people over there.  The ones who aren’t really that old.

Speaking of which, when you read the paper,  have you noticed how young many of the couples look who are celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversaries?

 

Posted September 20, 2014 by swanatbagend in reflections

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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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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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Parenthood   Leave a comment

I figured out at some point about ten years ago, after having been a parent for approximately 7 or 8 years, that there is no way you can repay your parents for all they did for you.

Don’t ask me why I  had the idea before this revelation that you could somehow repay that!  I didn’t really think that; I knew that financially you can never give back to your parents all the dough they sank into your food, clothes, clubs, hobbies and college education.  I knew that you can’t do enough good things to somehow balance out 18 or more years of constant love and support.  We know this intellectually.

But for whatever reason at that point I was understood the amount of sheer work it is to be a parent for 18 years since I was living parenthood myself at that point.  Living whatever it is, always brings it home.

And why that almost frustrated me I can’t say.  I’d like to somehow be good enough that they would feel all their efforts had been worth it.  But nobody can ever do 18 solid years of good stuff!

So that’s how it is.  You receive the love and care your parents give you, because that’s by definition what you do as  a child.

Of course, the first 18 years is just a start; it’s impossible to walk away from your young  just because they are old enough to survive.

Sure enough, my parents kept being helpful as I transitioned to adulthood by paying college tuition and welcoming me with enthusiasm every time I was home on break.

They were supportive throughout graduate school and when I was teaching.

Then when I started having children they would come and help out.

So somehow these wonderful people just kept adding to the list of kind things they had done for me, that I could never repay, right?

They had been thinking for several years about the possibility of moving closer to us, since for all these years they have been trekking from Denver to Kentucky.  They were hoping, someday, we’d come to them.  I understood their thinking they should be closer to us  when they get old enough to require our help, but the idea of them moving to us was so new it was difficult for me to adjust to, so my initial reaction to the idea was less than thrilled.  I suppose it’s human nature to want to have things stay the same, or even to pretend that things are staying the same.

This past winter they stayed in our area for several months to really scope out the situation and see if they would find it agreeable to live here.  After about three weeks, they decided it would suit and they could do this.

So they returned to their home state, packed up the belongings that accumulate after nineteen years in one house, and loaded up the U-Haul.  They are now settled in a patio home, have found volunteer work to do and are still visiting churches, as there are a lot to choose from and they haven’t been able to select one yet.  And it has been wonderful having them closer where we can see them on a regular basis, think every two weeks, instead of every 9 months to a year.  It’s really been fun.  Now that the change has come and they are actually here, I’m so glad.

I won’t have to travel for two days one way to get to them when they need me.  What an incredible gift.

So think about this with me: not only were they patient with my initial reaction of not being certain I thought this was a great idea…two people in their seventies have once again done something really nice, for me.

Posted December 19, 2013 by swanatbagend in parenting

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The World Is Changed   1 comment

The world is changed.
I feel it in the earth.
I feel it in the water.
I smell it in the air.

I have been trying to come up with a list of things about my life now that are the same as they were ten, twenty, thirty years ago.  Even with the shortest number of years, it’s getting hard to do.

Ten years ago I was a young mother.

I was a mother of young children.

I was being a mom, still finding my way to “how to” mother, having babies.

I was just starting to maybe begin to get the rhythm of homeschooling, but had meltdowns every time school started in the early fall.  And I only had one student!

We lived in a rural area near a college town and had been there for eight years with every anticipation of remaining forever.

We traveled a time or two a year, if we were lucky, to see my parents and my husband’s parents; they all lived too far away to do more, but we enjoyed our vacations with them very much.

We enjoyed a small, warm, vibrant church fellowship where everyone knew everyone.  I played piano and helped lead the singing.

Currently, I have had to take note that I am no longer realistically allowed to call myself young.

And, my children really aren’t young either.   Ten years ago, I had an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old, and was about four months pregnant with my youngest.  Now the same children are 18, 13 and 9 and a half….a very different set of ages, abilities and ideas.  They certainly aren’t babies any more, as my youngest has to keep reminding me.

Now I have approximately thirteen and a half years of homeschooling experience and one graduate, by any standard a respectable credential.

We live in on six acres near a major metropolitan area and know better than to think we will be staying here forever.

We have my parents living nearby so we can enjoy them and be of more help as they get older.  We’ve lost my husband’s father and his mother is in her 80s.

We enjoy a large, warm, vibrant church community where I cannot possibly (much to my frustration) know everybody, although I greet on Sundays as part of my effort to meet every person.  I listen to the music the band provides, playing by chords, instead of running through a “A Mighty Fortress” and a prelude myself.

I know, I know, life is change.

But I think this before and after snapshot is a bigger shift, in many ways, than others I have taken in my lifetime.

I know I’ve left some of my changes out.  The main one is probably who I am and who others think I am.  We moved seven years ago; it’s taken me that long to finally realize that people seem to think I know what I’m doing, that I’m an expert at what I do, that I don’t need any help and that I have help to offer (last one definitely true!).  The biggest change for me from ten years ago is realizing that I’m an older woman, someone people look to for advice, help or support.  I am older.  Not a bad thing.  Just still hard to fathom.

Ten years ago I was still having kids.  I think having babies makes you feel like your life is just starting.  At least, your intention is to be around as long as the child needs you, which you know will be a long time.  Hence the feeling that it’s all in front of you.  It is a great adventure.

And when you see one of those children fly the nest, then you realize, finally, that all of your life is most definitely not in front of you.

And I think that realization is the biggest shift I have ever made.  So no wonder it feels so new.

Posted November 25, 2013 by swanatbagend in Uncategorized

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