In this quadrant of life I find myself in I find myself seeing things in firsts and lasts. In just a matter of ten short days my oldest child will turn twenty years old. Gone will be her teens the very last vestiges of her childhood gone with the turning of the clock. I see flashes of her childhood flashing before my eyes. Her first day of kindergarten when she said she was a big girl now and she had to ride the bus to school. Her learning how to read, how to write, how to multiply, how to drive. So many firsts with so many more yet to come. Last days of elementary, last day of junior high, and last day of high school she was sure would never come and I wasn't sure we would survive with so many roller coasters that we seemed to be riding.
As a teenager I couldn't wait to fly the nest and get on with life and as a mother I'm terrified of her flying away and getting on with her life. No longer will I be the mother of three teenagers. I will be the mother of two teenagers and an adult. How do I mother her now? I haven't even gotten this mother of teenagers thing figured out yet? These people are growing up far to quickly for my taste. Where do we go from here? My entire identity is changing.
I was married at twenty two and had my first child at twenty three. I stayed home to raise my children, a gift that I acknowledge, and an enormous blessing as I am aware not everyone is able to do so. I haven't been in school for over twenty years. I didn't use the two associate degrees I earned in college and I don't know what I'm supposed to do with myself in this quadrant. How do I introduce myself to people when my children are grown? "Hello I'm Heather and I'm a stay at home mom, I just don't have any children at home?" Or " Hello I'm Heather and I'm a housewife who hates to cook, can't bake like her mother, and cleans when she can write her name in the dust?" (That part may be an exaggeration) How will I spend my days? I don't watch soap operas and I'm not entirely sure what bon bon's are.
My middle child is eighteen years old and she can't wait to get a move on with figuring out her next steps. My baby is thirteen. THIRTEEN!!! The baby boy that I brought home from the hospital what feels like four years ago is now thirteen and is taller than everyone in our house. He's smart and funny and handsome and you know that some girl is going to snatch him up and I will no longer be his favorite.
Is this a midlife crisis? Is this THAT? Am I suddenly going to get urges to drive sports cars and have surgery to pick my "girls" up to where they once were? How does this thing work? What is even crazier is I've been toying with the idea of going back to school. I'm going to be "mid-forties" and I'm thinking of going back to school? That's crazy. By the time I graduated I'd have maybe five years to work before I was getting pushed out the door for being too old. Who wants to hire a fifty-something year old with no experience right out of school who may very well retire at sixty-something if she even lives that long. Don't get me wrong I aspire to see the ripe old age of ninety five. But let's be real here. I had my baby at thirty. And what would I study? Can you transfer twenty year old college credits? Even if you don't remember the classes because your entire existence has been about kids, kids activities, and carpools?
Twenty years old....and it went too fast. I want to go back to the American Girl store and start over. I want to get all rapped up in that cult of dolls and all their accessories. I want to buy the barbies and the matchbox cars and the Lincoln logs and forget this business of colleges and graduations and first apartments and marriages. I don't even know how to make chicken and noodles for two people. Will we just eat out or eat frozen entrees for one? What if he doesn't like me anymore when it's just the two of us? We've had children for almost the entirety of our marriage. I'm not near as cute as I once was. He looks the same if not better, I look like I'm old enough to be an older cousin.
But then again...maybe it won't be so bad. Maybe they will marry really great people someday and our family will get bigger. Maybe someday we can all be in a room without someone being mad at someone else. Maybe we can come together at holidays around a table of the finest meal Bob Evans has to offer at Easter and enjoy watching our future grandchildren hunt for eggs. Maybe my husband and I will travel and see the world.
Maybe...God has got this too. Maybe I should take a beat and remember who I am and not everything has to be figured out this minute. I am the child of a righteous King and whatever comes next...whether I have a really cool way of introducing myself or not, well, I suppose maybe the best identity I can think of is exactly who I am. I'm the daughter of a King who was blessed to stay home with three great kids and whatever comes next doesn't change that. I'll still be the mother of three great kids we'll just have a different dynamic. Also I would do well to remember that they were never really mine to begin with, they are His. He has a plan for each of them and if He has a plan for them, I can rely on Him to have a plan for me as well.
Now I really have to go because...well I have homework. One class awaits. Let the experiment begin.