I read something the other day that said “God places the greatest rewards on the other side of fear.” (source unknown) If this is true, I have some great things coming my way; because I’m scared as hell right now. For the first time in 25 years, I’m making decisions about my life without one of my children living at home. Like many “empty nesters” who feel grief and an overwhelming sense of identity loss when their youngest moves onto their own adult life, I’m confused, sad and bewildered at how the past 25 years of beautiful “nesting” with my babies can be over so quickly. I’m suddenly released from the blessed responsibility of providing a home for my children and, since being a mother has been my single consistent source of pride and confidence through the toughest of times, I find myself feeling more unhinged than unchained. Who am I? What do I do now? What is my purpose? Wtf is going on here?
As I packed my son’s things for his move, just days after his high school graduation, I managed to stay on top of my emotions. Admittedly part of this success was the result of finding so many surprises buried in the four years of things that accumulate in a teenage boy’s bedroom as he matures into adulthood. I was disgusted at surprise backpack full of stiff sweaty gym clothes from, what I can only assume, was packed sometime in 2013. I was amused by the many “please take out the trash, love mom” notes and the mates of at least two dozen socks in my “unmatched socks” basket. I was brought to tears by the old worn baby blanket that was once his constant companion. I was proud of many medals, letters and other awards documenting his outstanding high school career as both an outstanding student and athlete. Every emotion possible was experienced as I dug through his piles of memories and unmatched socks and boxed up these things for his move. And in a way, I’m still experiencing all of them in a confusing whirlwind of grudging resistance to the change that is all around me.
Part of my confusion is due to my own task of packing that sits dauntingly in front of me. Just last week, I found my dream home with lush acreage and abundant privacy several hours away. In less than a month, I will be moving away from all that has become so unbearably painful yet familiar. Leaving my small hometown has been my goal since I found myself alone and homeless here after my failed marriage. And while I’m so very grateful to God for bringing me and my son here and for all of the love, support and successes we’ve found here, I’m also exultantly grateful that He’s found such exciting paths back out of here for both of us…the fact that it’s different paths separated by many miles and hours of travel by car feels dauntingly unbearable. And, as I’ve learned over these past few years, when something “tastes” so bittersweet in my soul, it is an experience worth having and worth savoring. And while at times I don’t feel like I can take any more of the bitter, hanging on and staying fully in the moment brings a flush of sweet so beautiful that the bitter can be completely forgotten for a moment. Those are the moments I’m living for now – those little moments in time when my soul reconciles with my true belief that at every given moment, everything is exactly as it should be…and it’s always beautiful.
So as I read back through my old blog posts about becoming homeless and then finding this house that has been our “happy home” for the past four years, I’m reinforced. I’m blessed, breathing and free. While I’m still shedding a tear on a daily, I’m finding my strength in my reinforced belief that my path has been a good one, that my phenomenal children are the greatest part of my legacy and that my life, while well chewed and bittersweet, still has a lot of flavor left in it.