Motherhood Is Like A Dance: Step In, Step back, Step Out, Step In

Thoughts about mothers and daughters and their relationships consume me these days.  Motherhood is something most of us ask for and wish for; we enter willingly and with anticipation.   We almost go into it lightly and casually.   There should be classes, a degree, or a council of “Wise Old Mothers” to teach, train and warn:

This will be the best thing you ever do. 

This will be the hardest thing you ever do. 

This will be the thing you ALWAYS do. 

Motherhood is forever. 

Motherhood should come with a warning.

But daughters?  Well, we didn’t have much choice in the matter.  But classes along the way might be helpful.  Right about now, I’d take a 0317001517PHD in daughterhood.

I am “sandwiched” between generations — a triple-decker club.  Mother, children and grandchildren.   Nothing really unique about that, I guess, as many women my age share the roles I am playing right now.  But when it is your personal script, the emotions, changes, and role reversals are fresh and new and very complex.

You wonder how the women before you have done this.

And why didn’t you pay better attention.

gochenaurs-4152My youngest child is packing up everything she owns for her last semester of college.  I watch as closets are emptied, books are piled, drawers are scattered.  Emotions run deep.  I am happy for her.   The timing is right.   She has been an easy child.  Wise beyond her years.  Independent.  But there is a sadness too.  She has been away at college for three years, and it’s not like we will be new at this empty nest thing, but this seems final.

Everything she owns.

Wait!  I’m not ready to let her go.  I know I didn’t teach her enough.  I have so much more to say.

But she is an adult now.  Almost 22 years old.  No longer a child.  Roles…changing…

As she packs, my own mother is awaiting admittance to an Assisted Living Facility.  She has been living in my home for 4 months.  I have been her caregiver.   She has had health issues for a year now with one major surgery and then a simple condition that wasn’t diagnosed correctly.  It was missed.  The simple condition turned deadly, and months and months of illness followed which wrecked havoc on her body and her mind.   The issue has finally been addressed, and treated, but her body and mind are slow to recover.  She is now half-well/half-sick.  She was much easier to care for when she was very ill.  She is sick and tired of being sick and tired, and she just wants to go home.  And the doctors have said no.  Each day, it is more challenging to care for her in my home.  I can give her so much, but I cannot give her the one thing she wants — home.

I am trying to care for my mother.  Roles…. changing… reversed….Emotions run deep.

There were 4 children running, playing, and napping in my house yesterday.  It was chaos.  Wonderful, loud chaos.  Snacks. Bottles. Booboos. Squabbles. Diapers. Lunch.  I have the privilege of keeping these grandchildren two days a week, and I love those kiddos like my own.   I try to assume my part as Gramma — and not caregiver — whenever their Mama is around, but sometimes the roles get a little grandkiddosblurred.   I know sometimes I overstep.  Where the heck is that Gramma manual?

That daughter is the mother now.   She gets this season to teach and train.  Roles….

It is amazing to watch your own daughter become a mother.  She seems to do it so naturally.  Is it easier for her or is she wanting a motherhood degree herself now?  She is part of the “sandwich” as her focus is on those children yet she keeps looking back at me.

‘Mom, you doing okay?’  She wants to take care of me.

The dance continues…

Emotions again… running.

 

 

 

 

I Did Not Marry A Farmer

imageI had the first date with my husband when I was 13 years old.  Well, almost.  The story actually goes like this:  My 8th grade best friend called me on a lazy Sunday afternoon, wanting me to go to a movie.  An hour later, a car pulled into the driveway, and my friend and her boyfriend were in the front seat with her mother (of course, we were not driving yet), and in the backseat was another boy, her cousin.  What?  She didn’t say anything about boys!  She knows I already “like” a boy at school.  I was instantly mad at her.  I was also rather awkward at the age of 13, and didn’t know how to talk to boys.  So consequently the next two hours were uncomfortable for all of us.  I was irritated at her for a week, and didn’t give the boy another thought.

As a sophomore, two years later, I started attending the consolidated high school, and I saw the boy again.  What?  “That boy” was now a hot-shot tennis-pro senior.  Wait.  I know him.  He knows me.  We went on a date once.  I was smitten.  Unfortunately, he was dating another girl.  So as I patiently bided my time, I memorized all the halls he walked between classes, and I walked them too, even if it meant I would be late for history.  Is that stalking?  Maybe.

One day, at the end of first semester, it was rumored that he and his gal had split up.  So on that very day, when I walked down his hall, I actually raised my eyelids and made eye contact with him for the very first time.  I smiled, said ‘hi’, and kept on walking.  He must have been doing some stalking of his own, though, because when his buddy offered to set him up with a blue-eyed blond, he guessed it was me.  We started dating that Friday night, January 21, 1972, and have been together ever since.  We got married two weeks after I graduated high school.

After he finished college we moved to the city where he worked as a certified public accountant.  We had 4 baby girls in the space of 13 years and enjoyed living in the suburbs.  Life went pretty much as expected for about 35 years (there are many stories to be told, but they are for another time).

Two weeks after the unexpIMG_0120 - Copyected death of my husband’s older brother, suburbia took a surprise turn.   Coming into the kitchen that morning to get his coffee, my husband said, ‘I would like to take Jerry’s place back on the farm’.  Whoa Nellie!  Seriously?  But almost as soon as I said it, I thought, ‘yes, of course that is what you should do’.  He had been struggling with accountant work.  He was bored and itching for a change.  My husband had been raised on a farm, and he IS that boy on the billboard sign:  You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.  Yes, that is what he should do;  that is who he is; who he has always been.

So I did not marry a farmer.  But I do find myself married to a farmer.

The “busy” times of farming are suppose to be spring and fall, but truth be told, life on the farm is always busy…there is always something that needs to be done.  20131010_143829 - CopyMy husband is working harder than he has ever worked in his life, but he is happy and fulfilled in what he is doing.  And even though I have done my share of complaining, I like this new adventure.  We are a team, and I knew, in my heart, this move was the right thing for him.  And if it is the right thing for him, it’ll be the right thing for me.  We are figuring it out and making it work.  That “other life” seems far in the distance now — it’s like he has always been farming.  It is who we are; who we were meant to be.

 

We didn’t exactly move “back to the farm”.  Our new home is still in a neighborhood, however, it is very rural.  We live in a small town of about 700 people, and most of them still travel by horse and buggy or bicycles.   We are in the mid-west and reside in the heart of an Amish community, Shipshewana.  Farming and buggies — it seems as though I have stepped back in time.

Instead of pictures of our home farm and equipment, I thought it would be fun to share pictures of how our neighbors live and work.  The Amish do not use modern equipment to farm — no tractors or combines!  They use the original “horse power”.

Here is a peek at my “rural America”.  (click on pictures for a larger view)

HarvestingCorn2

Baling-Hay

It is common for Amish families to bike into town

Amish Garden 3

Every Amish home has a gorgeous summer garden — complete with beautiful flowers as well as yummy veggies.

Buggy

This is what the “parking lot” looks like for a summer fish fry.

Yep, it’s free, and plentiful — grab a shovel!

Pumpkinvine Trail -- Old railroad tracks converted to miles of beautiful bike/walking trails

Pumpkinvine Trail begins about a mile from my house: Old railroad tracks converted to miles of beautiful bike/waling trails

flea market

Our little tiny town is renown for hosting one of the largest flea markets in the country. People come from all over on Tuesday and Wednesday to find the bargains or attend the auctions. Very fun!

Ice sculptures are carved every December 30 in our quaint downtown area.

I Can Sleep…God is Keeping Watch

Does every empty-nest mother have this hollow feeling as she crawls into bed each night?  Does she mentally think of each daughter or son?  Names them one by one as she lifts them up to God, wondering what they are doing at that very moment?  Are they safe?  Are they well?  Are they happy?

 
Is this worry?  I tell myself it is not.  It is just an evening prayer for my girls, but buried in that prayer is a heaviness that feels a lot like worry.  And the sadness — what is that?  They ARE well and safe and for the most part, happy.   Is it loneliness?  For such a long time, I had these girls in my life every day. Is the sadness for me?  I’m not sure I know.  This is something I’m still working out; something new in my life that I haven’t figured out.praying
 
I always try to relinquish these feelings as I crawl between the sheets at bedtime.  I don’t need to stay up and worry pray.   God is awake and He is keeping watch.  I hold that promise close to my heart as I fall asleep — sometimes with tears in my ears.
 
“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord.  Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children…”  Lamentations 2:19 

Am I a Mom or What?

A new chapter has begun.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.  Well, that’s not true. Yes,  I do.  My feelings are raw — like a fresh wound.   I don’t like it at all.  I want to turn back the clock.  I don’t want to go down this road.  I knew this day was coming.  I should have been better prepared. The emotion and tears have actually taken me by surprise. empty nest3 I thought I was ready.   But life has been too busy to worry about it; each day held enough problems of its own.  
 
Now what?  I can’t just sit here.  Or can I?  Who would know…or care?  My girls are thriving.  They are living their lives just as I hoped, dreamed and prayed they would since they were babies.  They are healthy and strong women.  They love me, their family and God.  What more could I ask?
 
The party is mine alone.  My husband doesn’t want to join me.  Hmmm.   Whatever. 
 
My mind knows better.  I am a blessed woman.  So blessed.  But my heart has some catching up to do, and it is being slow to respond.  It feels tired — like it doesn’t want to do its job today.  It wants to find a comfortable cushy chair, hunker down, and stare off into space all day.  Maybe tomorrow too.  Because in reality, it doesn’t feel like it has a job today or tomorrow. 
 
Now what?  How many times have I wished for just this: time to myself.  Time to do exactly what I want to do. And I know that is not even a rational, logical thought.  Because has my 18 year old really needed me to care for her around the clock?  Not hardly.  She has been independent for quite some time.   For years now, I could take a bubble bath at 2:00 in the afternoon if I chose to do so.  So why this lost feeling? 
 
 
Life has been busy.  So busy changing that I have not had time to think.  Changing.  That is an understatement.  Careers. Jobs. Houses. College. Locations.  Yep, lots of change — happening so fast and requiring so much energy that I almost didn’t notice. Until now.  And NOW seems very quiet and strange.   Maybe I’m lost because I have no children, no home, no friends, no town, no church. (remember I said pity party)  I am in limbo in so many areas.   Even getting groceries caused me to pause in the entrance of the store and swallow hard.  I asked myself (like a book I read a couple of years ago) “do I even know what I like to eat?”  And I guess that is it in a nutshell:  what do I like?  who am I?  If I am not a mom, who am I?  Do I know? 


I know I know  I know.  I am still a “mom”.  But I am not mothering.  And for over 32 years, until NOW, I have been daily, actively mothering.  
 
So this new chapter is going to be about figuring out who I am.  Because I cannot depend on my children to define me anymore.  They have lives of their own.  And I want them to thoroughly live their lives without worrying about me and what I’m doing — or not doing.    Who am I?  What do I want to be now that I am  all “grown up” ? 
 
Wow,  I really don’t know.  And it’s kinda scaring me.