God has recently been telling me, “Give it away” and that is just what I am doing! I’ve invited some beautiful souls from my favorite Facebook community for women in the 50+ season of life, The Consilium: a Gathering of Wisdom and Grace. Enjoy the words from their hearts and, if you don’t mind, would you leave a comment to encourage them? Feel free to join us over at The Consilium – we would love to see you there!
“Empty nest syndrome.” I know you’ve all heard of it, or you’re experiencing it right now. But what is it? Sometimes it’s the inability to accept that all of your little birdies have grown up & flown your nest. Sometimes, it’s a semi-mid-life-crisis that you go through, disguised as a new diet, or a new exercise program, or a new hairdo. But SOMEtimes, the mama bird is actively pushing those birdies out of the nest, just to get a little “me time.” That’s pretty much where I am right now.
My husband & I have birthed and reared four children together. From the time we were married, there was always diapering to do, breastfeeding to ensure, or dinners to cook. (or so it feels now) We struggled, as many couples do, balancing family time with couple time. And there was never enough couple time, some years. We have always made it a point to be a “couple” first, before we were parents; but trust me – there was lots of parenting going on! We ate dinner together as a family; we went to a local bookstore on Friday nights (cheap date idea, by the way); and the kids all had assigned chores, starting with doing laundry and clearing the table after dinner.
As the kids have grown older and become more independent, we’ve been able to “escape” occasionally. We took our first “couple’s vacation” the summer all four kids left for church camp at the same time – that started something wonderful. I became aware (again) of just how important our time together as husband and wife was – and I’m not referring to sex! It was the opportunity for us to hang out, just the two of us, with no possibility of being interrupted by one of the kids. Let me assure you, that was heaven to this mom! (I love how God worked it out for us to rediscover marriage) So now, we try to get away together at least once a year, even if it’s only for a couple of days.
Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, and we are continuing our favorite (new) tradition. We drive to a town about three hours away, stay in an historic hotel that’s an Art Deco masterpiece, and attend a New Year’s Eve dinner dance. It’s black-tie-formal, which gives us the chance to REALLY dress up, and the food is paired with wine in an elegant dance that keeps my palate happy for months. It’s the one night a year that we stay up past midnight (alas!), and we have so much fun that we’re not tired the next day.
Could we have done this when the kids were younger? Probably, except that any extra money always seems to be used on more important things, like food and rent. Plus, we would have had to spend a lot of effort arranging for childcare – even grandmothers like to celebrate that night, apparently! It’s just been easier to get away now that most of the kids are moved out & living independently.
You’ll notice I said “most” of the kids – yes, we still have one not-so-baby bird at home. He’s a slow starter, apparently. Both of our boys were, but once the older one moved out, he stayed moved out. So, I’m willing to wait for permanence, rather than a quick solution that won’t last. And, working as a waiter, New Year’s Eve is one of his busiest nights, so he stays out of trouble!
As we go through this journey, aging gracefully (or not so gracefully, perhaps), adapting to the changes God sends us, remember this: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Yes, hair color changes, wrinkles grow, weight waxes & wanes. But God has a plan for you, and He is with you every step of the way. Reach out & let Him hold your hand.
Bio: Elaine Pool is a fifty-something, married, mother of four, and grandmother of one (so far). She works as a School Psychologist for the local school system, has her own business, and still cooks dinner every night. The family is owned by two cats and two dogs, and some recently acquired fish (here we go again). She blogs VERY sporadically at Life After Fifty, which can be found at www.darkchocolateisbest.blogspot.com
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