Having had four teenagers under one roof at the same time, I know what it was like to literally feel as though every second was accounted for. I took my role as Mom seriously having given up a corporate job when my kids were little. For me, motherhood became a passion, a calling that I was going to strive to do to the best of my ability. I’ve packed lunches, driven to more sporting events than I care to admit, sat and talked until the wee hours of the morning with an upset teen, attempted to keep the house clean, tried to keep food on the table (that’s hard with three boys to feed!) and, well, you get the picture.
Then all of a sudden, the house got silent…deathly silent. The house stayed clean. There were only two sets of dishes. Laundry could be done in three loads once a week instead of being a full-time job.
I was lucky! I got an inkling of what goes on in those 20-something heads when they first started to leave the nest.
It all began with my oldest, right before he moved out of the house for that permanent transition.
“Mom, what are you going to do with all your time when we’re all gone? You’ve spent your life doing for us. What are you going to do for you?”
It was an innocent question that I thought was so endearing. He was worried about me? I gave him a laundry list of all the things that I needed to catch up on. You know, that list of things you wish you could get done but never have time for while you have kids in the house.
He called me one day about a month or so after moving out. We spent most of time talking about his new job, his apartment, his friends and all the other “new” in his life. After he caught me up on everything that was happening in his world, he asked me, “So, Mom, what did you do today?”
Even though I had accomplished quite a bit by my expectation: cleaned out the closet, paid the bills, fixed three meals and cleaned up the kitchen, had my quiet time, talked to a friend, picked up his brother from school…I could tell he wanted more. He was looking for something exciting in my life.
As I contemplated the conversation later, the light bulb went on! “Oh, I get it! He wants to be free to go live his life now!”
By the time my fourth was leaving for college, I was prepared for the conversation that took place.
“Mom, what are you going to do with all your time when I’m gone? It’s time for you to do something for you!”
I had a plan in place. “I’m going to work for a ministry, Michael. I’m going to do what God is calling me to do.” And I excitedly started sharing my anticipation of the days ahead when he left. His shoulders relaxed–and a smile came to his face–he seemed content.
It was okay to leave.
Now, on days when my kids call, I can share with them how I’ve spent my time. I share with excitement…because they are interested! They want to know that I’m passionately living my life!
What I’ve come to realize is that most kids need the freedom to “fly from the nest” knowing that we’ll have a life outside of theirs. While they are flapping their wings, they want us to soar too. If we are happy and busily engaged in our own lives (of course, still leaving room for them), doing something productive, we’ll still have lots to talk about even though we aren’t intimately involved in the daily activity of their lives.
One of the best gifts we can give our 20-somethings is the assurance that we will thrive even though we aren’t part of their daily lives.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
“Let go…and let God,”
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