Archive for the ‘life changes’ Tag

Cleaning Up   Leave a comment

We’ve gone through quite a few transitions at our house lately.  Some have been good, others more difficult.

My daughter graduated last June, and in the fall she took several college courses while living at home.  She wasn’t interested in going away to college and had not settled on a career path, so that seemed like a decent idea.  It didn’t turn out that way, because she discovered in the process that she really wasn’t all that interested in taking several random college classes.  This led to an existential meltdown for both of us.

Life transitions can do that sometimes.  They can push you to the edge.

It’s pretty terrifying when you’re at that type of juncture, and there is no obvious path into the future.  For that matter, there may not even seem to be an obvious next step into the future.

However, the sun rises, the sun sets, and you have to take steps forward, but only, apparently, when you are good and ready.

After Christmas break, my daughter decided with our agreement that she would take a break from classes until she knew more about what she wanted to do with life.  So, if she wasn’t at school, the plan was for her to get a job.

However, January started to pass away without any serious movement on her part (that I could see) toward applying for jobs.  I was a bit perturbed.  More than once I have mentally called her Bartleby, because when asked when she was going to make a step toward the future, the overall response appeared to be “I would prefer not to.”

However, she was very helpful at home, she was talking with and getting together with friends again, and she was doing a lot of extra cleaning chores that I really appreciated because I never get to them.

Then she started cleaning out her bedroom.

The closet floor had been a pile for years.  One step at a time, she tossed, recycled, re-gifted and reorganized that space.

Then, the Fisher Price toy castle that had been in her room for years went downstairs to the school room, where we keep age-appropriate toys for the children of friends who visit our house regularly.

A variety of other toys she had long since outgrown went to Goodwill or to the children of friends.

The large Plan Toys dollhouse and doll family that were the center of funny movies the kids used to make got moved to the empty kids’ bedroom.  She dusted off all the furniture and miniatures in it and shook out all the tiny rugs.  It didn’t get given away because we are not ready yet as a family to say a final farewell to the Fraw family, but, it’s not in her room any more.

Then, and only then, when her bedroom was updated to her adult sensibilities, did she start researching jobs.

Within a week, she had her first interview.  It went really well and she wasn’t even nervous.

Three more interviews followed and from start to finish the job hunting process was only three weeks. She has a job at Hobby Lobby, which is exactly where she wanted to be, and she loves it.  She’s driving herself to work and making all kinds of plans and taking on responsibilities that can only be described as adult.

But she was only ready, when she was ready.  She cleaned out her room and her life, reinventing herself in the process.

We’ve homeschooled since 2000, and I’m now in what you might call the home stretch.  I have only one student left and he will finish up his freshman year of high school at the end of May.  There are only a few more years to go; a mere 14% of the total time I will have spent homeschooling lies before me.  It’s been difficult to imagine what I will do after he graduates, although of course I do have some appealing ideas.  But mainly, graduating my daughter and seeing this future change coming has been mysterious and a bit scary.

However, I am finally ready to move on.  It took a trip downward into depression and the wrestling with my purpose to do it, but I too am cleaning out my room and my life.

I’ve wanted to really get the creeping Charlie and overflowing iris out of the flower garden for years, but just didn’t have the time.  It’s now done and I’m working on shade loving flowers to plant to replace the bare spots.

Getting back into embroidery sometime in the past twenty years would have been nice, but I never had the time.  Yesterday I emptied out my sewing bag and found a beautiful kit I never finished.  I washed the entire bag, which was covered with dust.  I gave away kits I didn’t want.  I threw away random pins and scraps of fabric that I knew I would never use.  And last night, while my son read to us, I was cross-stitching.

I cleaned out a magazine rack that was stuffed full of a wonderful magazine, long since ceased publishing, called Welcome Home.  I first subscribed twenty years ago.  It was just what I needed for encouragement to love and parent well.  The articles were so good, I saved every issue, thinking I would re-read them someday.

Twenty years later, that day hasn’t come.  I now have not just one but two adult children.

I donated the magazines to the library–when I was good and ready.


Posted April 29, 2019 by swanatbagend in transitions

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Deceived   Leave a comment

I’ve been deceived all these years.

Or maybe I was just deceiving myself.

With the slow turn of the seasons, I welcomed back the aspects of those times I liked most.

When a cold front blows in September, blues the sky, and knocks down leaves, I’m so glad to open the windows and let it in.

There’s a certain damp smell in spring in Kentucky that happens in March.  You know winter really will end.

And with every season, there are holidays and landmarks that you count on.  School starts up.  It’s time to pick pumpkins.  Christmas is coming. You know there will always be Tax Day.  Spring break is definitely looked forward to with a good level of enthusiasm, especially when you are anticipating driving south through Tennessee, Alabama and Florida, spring fast-forwarding around you in dogwoods, red-buds and azaleas, until you arrive at the beach.

These landmarks of my life are reliable.  They return annually, which brings joy and comfort.

What deceives me is the feeling that they are thus the same.

But they’re not.  It’s not the same spring break, not the same Thanksgiving, not the same anything.

We don’t get a re-do.

I don’t mean in a spiritual sense with God.  He is the author of second chances and forgiveness.

I just mean there’s no re-do for any given day.

Obvious, of course, but not in my heart.

When I have a bad day I can find myself playing the what-if game.  When I spend a good day with friends, inside myself I’m thinking how good it will be to do it again.

I can pick a day that’s now in the past, which was really blessed, and I realize that not only did I treasure the day,but some part of me believed it was a preface to more days–just like it–with those people.

Thankfully, of course, there is consistency in my life.  I do get to see many of the same people, most weeks.  But to assume those same dear people will assemble again in the same way another day is to fool myself.

I don’t spend much time thinking this, usually, because, frankly, it’s disturbing.

Lord willing I will use this reality to live fully in each moment, not thinking about the what-ifs, or wishing that day was different, but being grateful for what is, and who is there with me.


Posted September 7, 2014 by swanatbagend in reality, reflections

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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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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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