Mid-life Mom… Who am I and What am I to Do?

What happened to my flowers?!?

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We went to the beach in the midst of a beautiful Tallahassee spring. My yard was full of color and promise; azaleas, Japanese Magnolias and Dogwood were splendid with blooms! Less than 48 hours later, the flowers of “spring,” certainly the shortest season in North Florida, were all but gone.

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Pictures of the same Japanese Magnolia taken just days apart

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Spring’s promise is being fulfilled too quickly for my tastes. It seems the transition happens overnight, as one day we wake up to the full-on green of summer’s heat. Cycles of change are inevitable in nature and in the lives of individuals — in my life.

I remember my mom saying each year passes more swiftly than the last. It made no sense to me as a child enduring the seeming eternity between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But today I agree with the generations before me. “Tempus do fugit,” as Granny liked to say agreeing with Mom; time flies.

I said in my last post I would write about “His continuing work of grace in my heart.” The time stamp says it was a month ago — I would have guessed 10 days. Barbara Bush had a quote about the life of young mothers being comprised of “long days and short years.” It’s so true! And for this 50-year old empty nester, this month has been similar. I am a mother without a child.

IMG_1317Lately I feel like a misfit: a stranger in my own body and mind — lost and confused. Something akin to the insecurity of adolescence when we are children in increasingly adult bodies, I am a searching version of my past self, with obviously aging skin, bones and muscles.  The real me feels invisible in a crowded room.

With incessant digital capturing, I’m shocked at images of my middle-aged face and form —  so drastically different from the athletic, unwrinkled woman inside. This matronly version of myself is not one I easily appreciate. And my mind? The forgetfulness, the confusion and unrest. Not knowing what’s next or what to do? Who am I?

In the little time my youthful self spent thinking about midlife, my current reality was not a part of my imaginings. Midlife crisis doesn’t fit because it implies recklessness and chaos. I don’t want to dismantle what I spent a lifetime building.  Yet something tells me, even as Rob and I are creating a second infrastructure with “family” in mind, I need to face the truth that the old is falling away like the blooms of spring, and new growth is happening without my permission — it’s time to embrace it!

We are blessed and grateful that our children come home fairly often. But nothing is as it once was, and their departures back to their “real” homes always loom. Each good bye is a reminder that the full-time mom season is over.

IMG_1211I get up at 6:30 and begin my morning rituals — but why? I could kiss Rob good bye and sleep a bit more. Most days, I have no where I need to be and no one who is counting on me.

The remaining tasks still available from my stay-at-home-mom days leave me feeling empty. I used to create our family life, full of friends and activity. All that went into homemaking and being mom was fulfilling and gave me great joy. A place and a purpose.

Whether at work or at home, I’ve managed to “busy myself” through the days, even productively sometimes. Then, Rob and I continue the old nighttime patterns, as if we still need to be home weeknights — a rut of sorts.

Recently, I wandered around Fresh Market, departed and drove to Publix — pushing a shopping cart again, but collecting only a bag of grated cheese (I later returned it and left empty handed). The futility of my leftover routine overcame me. We laughed and enjoyed a night out.

I try really hard to live in the present, but I often carry the grief of moments gone. Sweet memories of times fully lived and the regrets of opportunities lost. Recently, I’ve been overwhelmed with longing for my familiar and imperfect but beautiful past life as a bustling family.

IMG_0269God has met me in these last weeks, full of grace and compassion. The funeral of a 90-year old family friend who lived exceptionally well gave me glimpses of my own finish line, my obituary. Thirty, forty fifty… they came so fast. I never really considered life beyond my little “family.” But I am here and God-willing, I have 25-30+ more years. I want to live well and age gracefully.

Psalm 92:14 says, “They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green.”

Everything in my life is fair game to offer for examination. To retain if still useful or to remove if outdated. I want to make room for God’s continuing plans and purpose for me. I feel more urgency to share His love. To engage others. More intentional and thoughtful about my steps than before, when doing all the things that made up my days was enough. Now I’m spending a lot more time praying, being still, and listening.

My conversations tell me I’m not alone in this unsettling stage — struggling to loosen my grip both on what always was and on what I thought would be. Wondering if I have the courage to create something new and to claim the life God has for me now.

IMG_4230At 50 I’m living the backside of what I always thought of as my “future.” My goal is to keep my eyes and my heart on God whose grace is eternal and whose work in me will continue until he brings me home.

Something inside whispers that being busy is not the same as being fully alive — and that I have a lot to look forward to, as each day I surrender to being more of who God made me to be. The great thing about the passing years is we get to hang on to every age, as we build on all God accomplishes in each season we are His child.

Isaiah 46:4 says “Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.”

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21 thoughts on “Mid-life Mom… Who am I and What am I to Do?

  1. Louise, I really enjoyed what Beth Moore said about time and how we perceive it. Earthly time seems to be going away but Biblical time is coming to a time when Jesus Christ will be revealed. I loved the thought of time coming up to that moment instead of time disappearing from us each day. We are all in this together! Love you so!

  2. Louise, You hit the nail in the head for many and I appreciate you putting it into words. 🙂 Keep sharing please!

  3. Granny used to say she might look old on the outside but she was still young on the inside. I’m beginning to understand.

  4. Louise-
    I would love for you to add me to your mail list. You have stated in this article everything I have been feeling. I am someone who doesn’t do change well but God has been doing some work in that area of my life over the past few years preparing me to accept will and trust Him with the plans He has for me…whatever they may be.

    1. I will add you, Amy. Thanks for your encouragement! I’m going to write more about this stage of life… I think we all struggle with change, and whoever dreamed about this period of time?? We’re sort of caught off guard, I think. We need to meet for wine next time Julie’s here and talk in person!

  5. I think I may have a new nickname for you…Miss Articulator. You have an amazing way of describing what we all feel…and to the women readers out there, yes, men struggle with seasons too. Looking forward to our new seasons and all that you have to write about them. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Rob! You are God’s greatest gift to me and make every season one to look forward to. I can’t wait to see where God will lead us. I love you!

      1. I have Jane Pauley’s book, Your Life Calling, on my night stand. She has insights and examples from many on these times of our life. Happy to loan it. Thanks for sharing your feelings.

  6. Louise,
    Wonderful article! I am”old”
    High School friend of Mary’s.
    You are so talented! My feelings exactly, I just say enjoy each season of life! It really is precious!
    Karen

    1. Thank you Karen! I appreciate your encouragement. I think we’re in good company! And I agree, it’s all precious.

  7. Hello Louise! You don’t know me but I call Cairo home. You were friends with my sister Michelle. I too just turned 50 and could identify with so much of what you said. It was so well written. Thank you and I look forward to reading more.
    diane

    1. Thanks for writing, Diane. I’ve enjoyed catching up with Michelle on Facebook. Did she tell you she inspired me to write a post? Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed this post. I think 50 and the empty nest are full of change, but the newness can be awesome with God’s grace! I’m sure He’ll show us His plan!

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