Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

 

By Rev. Kelly Thibeault

After a summer of waiting, the time has finally come. It is finished. After almost 24 years of childrearing, our nest is now empty. Our son, our youngest child, headed off to college in Nebraska a few weeks ago.

I’ve done a lot of thinking this summer, reminiscing over the past 24 years. I remember how nervous I was when my oldest climbed onto the school bus for the first time to head to Thacher Elementary School. I remember following the bus all the way there, just to make sure that she made it safely.

Over the years, I’ve filled out hundreds of school forms and permission slips. I’ve packed over 6,000 lunches and chaperoned countless field trips. I’ve served on parent boards and committees and volunteered to help out wherever I could.

I’ve attended innumerable soccer, softball, baseball, football and wrestling practices, games and matches. I have driven to more chorus, band and theater rehearsals than I can remember. And through it all, I have beamed with pride at each accomplishment that my kids have achieved.

I’m not going to say that it was always easy. I found myself exhausted a lot of the time, and I prayed a lot. There were countless evenings consoling my kids when they couldn’t understand their math homework (which I usually couldn’t understand, either) or that they worried over upcoming tests. It was those nights that I asked God to comfort and guide them.

There were those frustrating mornings when they woke up to tell me that they were supposed to have a three-ringed binder or a red folder or snack to share with their class. Those were the days that I prayed for patience and understanding.

There were those mornings that no one wanted to wake up and I had to drag the kids out of bed, feed them, and get them to the bus. Those were the days that I prayed for their bus drivers and teachers, and thanked God that I didn’t have to do it alone.

But there were also those days when they would come home excited to show me a good grade they got, or to show me something they made or to share a story with me about something wonderful that happened them that day. Those where the days that all I could do was thank God for the amazing gifts that I had been given.

Not only have I reminisced a lot this summer, but I’ve done a lot of thinking about this “empty-nest syndrome,” as they call it. I’ve talked to lots of parents about what they are facing and the feelings and emotions that come with it. Of course, there is a feeling of sadness and loss, because life is changing. But life always changes; it has to.

We tend to struggle with change because we like things to stay the same. We are comfortable with the way we have always done things even when the tasks are challenging. But the truth is, life is always changing, and we like are kids are always changing and growing too.

Of course I’ll continue to pray for my kids as they work to find their way in the world. I’ll listen to their stories when they call home and I’ll continue to celebrate their accomplishments, allowing them to take care of themselves now.

That’s not to say that I won’t have a day now and then that I’ll miss making their lunches or tripping over their shoes in the kitchen, but those are the days that I’ll pray for those tired moms and dads out there in the middle of it all, and I’ll thank God for the memories that I have to treasure.

For 24 years I put all my energies into raising my kids; teaching them about life, faith and how to love their neighbor as themselves. Because of what they experienced and learned, they now have the courage to step out on their own. They are doing what they are supposed to do. This is the goal that we have worked for all these years.

As parents, this is what we worked for. We tried to create good, caring people who strive to make the world a better place. They are now on their own at college, making their own choices (hopefully good ones) and improving themselves. Our main task as parents has been accomplished. I hope other parents can, like we do, find comfort in these words from the book of Matthew … “well done you good and faithful servants.”

Of course, our kids know that my husband and I are always here if they need us, but this is their time to soar.

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

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