Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oh, The Empty Nest!

"To everything there is a season, a time, a purpose under Heaven."   ... Ecclesiastes 3:1


Well. Bonnie asked if I could write another post about the 'empty nest' soooo here you go.

Releasing Naomi to be the grown-up she'd become was probably the hardest thing, ever. Yet after I finally let go  (it took years), it was also the most rewarding, exciting and freeing thing.

When Naomi was 14, God dropped a certain book at my feet (literally, kinda), one which basically said, "Parents! When your children hit the ages between 18 and 21 you must give them the freedom which you wanted at those ages. The freedom God gives each of us, a freedom it would be wrong/ungodly to deny them. So begin preparing yourself emotionally now while they're young and start creating a life for yourself now, as well. Both are vital."

That book haunted me.

Well, I did prepare myself emotionally and I did create a life apart from mothering--but even so--oh dear. Still, when Naomi hit 19 and 20 (especially) it was like agony not giving her unasked-for advice and double agony trying not to worry when she'd come home after midnight (or 2 or 3 a.m.) after waitressing or playing drums in her band(s). 

"Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be drummers." Heh.

But oh... God nagged me big time. He reminded me that raising my daughter had, mostly, reached its end. And He also said (over and over) that my worry was sin, an obvious sign of a lack of trusting Him and not giving Naomi her adult freedom was sin, as well (ouch). 

More? He said there'd be no more sleeping on the couch until Naomi arrived home nightly. "From now, go to bed, Debra. Go to bed and sleep and trust that I'll bring her home safely." (Gah. What a test.)

Something else He nagged about said? "Let Naomi make her own mistakes. That's how she'll learn wisdom and make better choices for her future."

There was more, like, "Let go of that grip!", but if you're a mom of at least one adult, you've probably already heard it all.  :)

Well, obeying Him helped a lot (funny how that works). And these things, below, made the separation easier because they were firmly a part of my life before Naomi left home: 

1.) I developed a great love for God, which changed my head and heart like you wouldn't believe. I spent much time getting to know Him better and letting Him remake what I'd made all wrong.

2.) God showed me how exciting it can be to use the gifts He'd placed inside me to help others. He reminded me (still does) how it matters that I find ways to improve upon those talents. 

3.) I began learning new-to-me subjects, practically did college at home my own way. This helped expand my mind and stretch my creativity. Shortly before Naomi left home, I finally went online and discovered ways to encourage and teach and write here (and have never looked back).

Then after Naomi officially left home? Tom and I felt like newlywed kids again. Free to go where we wanted, when we wanted and to do what we wanted. I even repainted both of Naomi's rooms and made them my own in which to create and dream and entertain and sleep. 

And you know? The world, my world, suddenly felt new and huge and not empty at all, but stuffed with adventurous possibilities not available to me with a daughter at home. As though a brand new season had begun, one with a doorway not large enough for me and the old child-rearing season. No, all I could bring were empty hands and a willing spirit ready to create and live inside sunny seasons yet to come.

Raising Naomi was a marvelous, rewarding season for me, unlike anything I'd ever done or will do again. But so is this empty nest season as God and I pour just as much creative energy into it day by day.


"But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."   ... Genesis 19:26

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 
― Benjamin Franklin

One of the posts I shared yesterday goes along well with today's: The Necessity of Your Own Life.

This one, also:  Just Doing It ... And Changing The World



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Tracy Lee said...

Great post! I have done a pretty good job of letting go of my oldest (a boy), but somehow I don't think it's going to be quite as easy with my two girls, now 18 and 14.

Deborah Raney said...

Great post, great advice, Debra! I'm absolutely loving the empty nest season. A wonderful reward for the hard (though extremely rewarding) years of childrearing. I miss my kids like crazy some days (they all live far from home), but when we do get together we have SUCH fun and my heart is SO full. I now my job now is to simply love and pray for my kids. I love when they ask my advice, but I try not to offer it until they do. It was a huge adjustment to let go after more than 30 years of being a stay-at-home mom (our 4 kids were born over a stretch of 14 years) and some tears were shed, but wow the rewards when you get over the adjustment hump.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for all the reminders, Debra. It is so hard. I have to say I've been great at letting them guilting them or holding them back. They are both good people, independent,comfortable in their own skin and successful. My mother heart just still needs working on. Admittedly, my own diagnosed health problem has added to my perspective because that changed everything. Nothing can ever be simple! I have to say I'm a great mother of adults. I just haven't found it to be easy. I guess it leans more toward the book The Giving Tree these days. And that's okay! Thanks again for your great posts!

Debra said...

Tracy--I'm sure you'll do fine! Though it *will* be different once all your children have left the house. But I know you and God will make it through and thrive in your new life, even. I've often been blessed by your determination!

Deb--so true! Once you've worked through all the emotional stuff, it's great over on the other side, isn't it? :)

Bonnie--oh dear! The Giving Tree feels like such a sad book to me. God knew ages ago about your health problem, so the talents He's given you are, I'm sure, ones you can still do--maybe what remains is to find new ways to do them as you start your new life.

He so wants us to look forward with excitement of what's yet to come with Him by our side! Nothing in Life is easy, but Jesus said He will 'ease, relieve and refresh our souls when we come unto Him.' His great love for us will enable us to do anything He's planned for us to do and be, and I pray that you enter into His joy and His rest for your brand new journey and season!

Thanks, Ladies! Blessings, Debra