How many of you are mothers? I can honestly say I experienced indescribable joy the day I learned I would be a mother. I bought the books on what to expect through my pregnancy, I followed my doctors’ instructions, and did what I could to take care of myself.
I surrounded myself with other moms, through playgroups and such. I wanted to learn all I could. I loved going to my children’s sporting events and cheering them on or baking cookies for their events. I have loved being a mom.
Well, last month I entered a new phase of life: the empty nest. I took my baby to college and came home to an empty home…. a painfully quiet, empty home. You know the kind of quiet I’m talking about? The kind of quiet that is so loud, it hurts your ears.
There are no books to read or classes to take to help with this transition. You’re caught between a tug and a pull, excitement for their adventures and saddened by your loss of the day to day-ness of life with them. To be completely frank, it’s not for the faint of heart, this thing called motherhood.
Walking through the empty nest for all of about a month now, I’ve learned a few things I’d like to share with those of you who haven’t taken this step yet. Hopefully, this will encourage so when your time comes, you’ll thrive.
They never stop needing you as a mom. It may look different and it may even feel different, but they will still need you. It may feel like you’ve done your job and you’re finished, but they will call or write or in some cases show up on the doorstep. When they do, listen, not just to the words but the real message they’re conveying. They may already know what you’re going to say. It may seem like a ridiculous phone call to you, but it’s not. They may just need to hear you say one more time,
“You can do it!”
While my daughter is a freshman this year, my son is a junior in college and he still calls home to talk through things with me and/or his father. He asks for assistance with fine tuning his resume for internships. He asks for advice on how to handle situations with friends. He’s a man now, so he isn’t coming for our permission or for us to spoon feed him how to handle things. He comes as a man of God seeking wise counsel. You’ll find the relationships shift from parent to friend without even realizing it, and it’s a beautiful thing.
They love mail, and not just in their email mailbox. They actually get excited about envelopes and packages from home that say,
“I’m thinking of you! You matter to me. Here’s a reminder that those of us back home are rooting for you.”
Each time I’ve sent something, I’ve received a phone call (that’s one way to get them to call) telling me thanks. One child may be a little more exuberant than the other, but it matters to them all, even those who don’t say so. Whether it’s cookies from home or a notebook they left behind and realized they needed, they love having that tangible connection to home.
If you take the time to do what Deuteronomy 6:6-9 commands you to do, you will see fruit from it. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
You may have wondered if they ever really listened to you or were you just talking to the air, but you’ll find some things did stick. My daughter called me when she visited a student ministry on campus and the person teaching the small group said something she questioned. When I asked her to explain what happened, she began sharing what he said and then providing the Scriptural references that pointed out where his teaching was flawed. She knew she needed to confront this issue, but she just needed someone to remind her that she could do it and she was correct in her theology. While she was on one end of the phone struggling with how to handle the situation in an honoring manner, I was on the other end praising God that the teaching and the Scripture had taken root through the years.
I don’t know where you are in your journey as a parent. It really doesn’t matter, because our response should be the same. We take a lesson from Abraham in Genesis 22:1-18. Abraham loved Isaac more than life itself, but he knew that ultimately, Isaac belonged to God. So, in an act of obedience, Abraham placed Isaac on the altar of God.
What about you? Have you fully surrendered your children to the Lord? He is worthy of our acts of obedience and He is faithful with all that is His. And after all, they’re already His, He’s just loaned them to us for a little while.