When we have our babies, we know somewhere in the back of our minds that the day will come when they will be ready to leave the nest and pursue life on their own terms. But nursing, diapers, developmental skills, social skills, family times and such keep our attention in the present. Save the occassional frustrating day where we look forward to their self-sufficiency, we don't spend much thought there.
Then, one day, when 2 of your 3 have left the nest and your baby is starting her senior year, you begin to see those early days have mystically become treasured memories and your present is now comprehensively focused on the future. Her future...your future.
In our family, we made the deliberate choice that I would stay home with our children. Day in, day out, I've tailored the plans of my life around theirs and have done so with joy. Mommy and Me groups, play dates, gymnastics, swim lessons, horseback riding lessons, Vacation Bible School, homeschooling, birthday parties, sick days, pediatric appointments to dermatologists, dentists, and doctors filled my calendar week to week, month to month, spilling from one year into the next.
I looked at my calendar the other day. The items on it have changed. We now have things like ACT testing, college campus visits, college application deadlines sprinkled randomly thoughout the year. All medical visits are no longer pediatric and play dates don't include mom. When she needs to be somewhere, she gets in the car and drives herself there and back. In lieu of being there to witness ongoings in her day to day life, I listen to her summary over the evening meal.
It would be easy to feel unnecessary, as if I've worked myself right out of a job.
But, mostly when I'm on my knees, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper into my soul praise of the young woman she's becoming and I know my fingerprints - however faint - have been there. Her time is arriving and she is shining.
Empty nest looms around the bend. What of my days? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit whispers reassurances there, too. I have no idea how mothers who are not Christians navigate the overwhelming sense of change and concerns about loneliness that abide on the sidelines of this time of life. The Holy Spirit helps me with perspective and comforts me with reassurances of continued purpose for my life in a new direction and I know I would be like a frightened animal tangled in a barb-wired fence without Him.
My marriage is strong and I enjoy the companionship of my husband - my best friend. I know he, too, holds memories of days gone by and will settle in for a pleasured stroll through the past over a cup of coffee with me when I feel the need to revisit what used to be my life. Likewise, he will cheer me on in new directions as I discover life after Motherhood.
Life will be different, but no less rewarding. I trust this because I know God has a plan for all the days of my life, not just the ones that held the title "Mommy".
So here we go, moving forward toward new adventures and the accumulation of new memories that will spread far beyond the boundaries of our address and the little home where we all grew up.