I think a few years of twelve-step recovery groups have messed with my head just a bit. I’ve gotten “one day at a time” drilled into me like nobody’s business. It was good at first, because I was pretty much living fifty years at a time when I first dragged myself into those group meetings, but now…well, now I might just have the opposite problem.
Here’s where I’m at today. I’m living in faith for this day in front of me. And pretty much tomorrow too. No real huge worries, to be honest (even in my current circumstances). And on a typical day, I really don’t look too much farther ahead than this week. That’s huge for me. So, there’s my one day at a time thing working its magic.
And then, when my mind is wandering, I jump ahead just a tad. As in, I can picture where I’ll be during the next five years (if we ever actually move there), and what my main purpose will be (love and train my children through the teenage years and prepare them for adulthood). My next five years is pretty much all set. Not a lot of fear when I look ahead. Just simply good to know what’s coming for the most part.
And then, well, I jump ahead a lot. My death. I believe that the moment after I die, I’ll be in the presence of God. How mind-blowingly amazing is that? Talk about something to look forward to. Some people can’t wait til Friday or their Caribbean cruise. Those of us who believe in Jesus, we’ve got a completely secure and totally cool future ahead of us.
So, here’s my problem. Mid-August of 2016, I’ll be helping my son pack up his car and he’ll pull out of our driveway (after I pry myself off him from my mama bear hug) and I’ll walk back into our big vacant house, a forty-five year old empty-nester, all alone.
I know what I’m doing today. I know what I’m doing tomorrow. I know what I’m doing for the next five years. I know what I’m doing after I die. But forty-five to death has me scratching my head and a little worried, I must say.
When I start to think about those years, that last half of my life, I get worked up and scared. I don’t want to be a woman who clings to her children, who makes them feel guilty for leaving me (sigh) “all alone” to go out and live their lives. I don’t want to be a woman who becomes a needy bother to her friends. Who never leaves her house. Or who, heaven forbid, gets a lot of cats. But probably because of the grieving place that I’m currently in, I can’t see big and bright plans for myself during that season of mine.
But if one day at a time has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t need see plans for forty-five to death. I just need to see what’s in front of me. So that’s what I’m trying to do this day.
If this post helped you, “Moving On as a Christian Single Mom” is for you, found here.
Empathy plus from me to you. I remember those feelings as I counted down toward the estimated launch date for my three kids. I felt the same sense of dread you describe as I considered that my youngest would turn 18 as I hit the ripe old age of 45. It was as if I could see a yawning canyon ahead, and could do nothing to detour around it.
I did a few things in hopes of avoiding a headlong plunge into the abyss including amping up my writing career, taking on a staff position at a church, and trying to make sure I was very, very busy. My good plans were not God’s plans for me, save the writing part. The staff position got swallowed up in politics and we relocated and had to start social relationships from scratch. And one of my kids made some choices that changed the landscape entirely for the whole family.
It is certainly wise to begin contemplating what may lie ahead, as you are. But the real gift comes, as you’re discovering, in staying in the moment and savoring the time with your kids while you’re still smack-dab in the midst of your active parenting years.
Blessings on you today, Elisabeth. Thanks for your wonderful honesty. 🙂
Don’t worry, statistics tell us that at least one of your kids will boomerang back into your house after college! 🙂
I’m in the same boat–three years from now my son will leave for college. Trying to just love every minute now, even through the challenges.But I also know, from having friends with kids in their 20s, that the nest is never completely empty. You’re still their mom and will be involved in their lives. Embrace the moments & don’t try to guess what 45 will bring. As Dallas Willard says, “Eternity is in session.”
Actually some people needs stuff like this when they are in a very depressed way, thankfully I’m one of the persons who doesn’t need it, i can tell that i have an unbreakable spirit and I know that i must go on all the time, i can’t stop and is very important that your family and friends support you if you are a weak person, but weak or not, we always needs help from people.