Empty nest. I saw this coming a LONG way off, and have been preparing for it for years. I recognize that it is Good and Right that our children grow up and move on with their lives; it is what we have been training them to do their whole lives. That does not change the fact, however, that when I am done with my stage of active mothering I am stepping out of a major phase of identity: "I am a stay-at-home-mom and homemaker." I also saw this off in the distance, and got my schooling finished, some occupational training under my belt and started my own business. I was also planting my veggie garden, nurturing my flock of pullets and waiting for the arrival of my first eggs. My own life was rolling right along into the next phase, too, and I was busy enough to be distracted from my sense of loss as the kids started trickling away.
Then, BAM! What started as a wonderful, busy Spring and lots of great jobs turned into nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zippo. A couple small things here and there, and now a couple more small things on the horizon, but it really slapped me hard in the face. "Wait. If I am not mothering anymore, and I have no work, what exactly am I supposed to be doing, here?" My crisis was made much the worse for a depressive reversion. Those who have walked in the shadow of depression know that it is not as simple as "getting over it" or "finding something to do." At times it is, literally, the valley of the shadow of death; it is suffering and oppression. The things you most enjoy doing are meaningless, pointless and joyless. Oh, I am a gardener? I couldn't really care any less about my gardens right now, and let them go to weeds. Sometimes it is all you can do just to take care of your charges but because they would DIE otherwise. It is not a good place to be, and it can be a hard place out of which to climb. Physical and spiritual issues can also play a significant role, so we go back to a holistic examination of one's life, like I alluded to in earlier posts.
My backwards crash was not a conscious one; I crashed and was taken aback by what was happening to me. After all, I was in counselling, taking anti-depressants, improving my diet, losing weight, enjoying fellowship with God.
Retrospective examination brought all this unbeknownst angst to the surface, where, fortunately, it can be dealt with. As my counsellor so aptly put it, the muck in a glass of water can settle out to the bottom but if you jostle that glass the much gets stirred up- a perfect time to skim it off. Hooray for skimming!
So, as I feel the oppression begin to lift, and my eyes start to drift back upward, I breathe in deeply, and think about the idea of identity a little more clearly. I am still mother, wife, female, etc. What I DO will look different, of course, now that I am not actively mothering. But our sermon last Sunday was so perfectly timed that I cannot help but thank God for reminding me that He is there, walking through the muck with me.
Who am I? I am a human being living on this world we called earth. I am a Child of God, created to glorify Him. My suffering has been great, but nothing compared to what He endured on the cross for my sake, and if I hold tight to the reminder that He walks with me and will use my suffering for His glory I will do it again.
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is nothing on earth I desire
besides Thee. My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."