Tag Archives: choices

Woman of a Certain Age

Thankful to have two teenagers still at home, including my son, who especially likes me to smile.

Thankful to have two teenagers still at home, including my son, who especially likes me to smile.

Last night, I leaned down to kiss my 88-year-old mother goodnight, and she suddenly looked surprised.

“My! You’re getting older, aren’t you?” she said,

I kissed her forehead and said, “Yes, Mama, we’re getting older together.”

When I shared this on Facebook, my friend Tami responded, “Hasn’t it been said that ‘women of a certain age’ shouldn’t lean forward because their skin sags forward and exaggerates the wrinkles?”

Apparently, the concept of being a “woman of a certain age” has a colorful history, not all of which applies to me. The in-your-face humor that many “women of a certain age” adopt isn’t exactly my style either. Furthermore, I’m not thrilled that “women of a certain age” is linked on the Internet to words like CT scans, lumps, estrogen, colonoscopy, and osteoporosis.

I do, however, appreciate Tami’s reminder that I’ve reached “a certain age” where it’s more important than ever to hold my head high and keep a smile on my face so the skin won’t sag forward and exaggerate the wrinkles—and so the wrinkles will end up in all the right places for that matter.

I’ve already learned the importance of a smile, and I understand that carefully and deliberately choosing my thoughts is the secret to maintaining one. The hard part is keeping my head up. I often catch myself hunching over with my head down, fighting back tears of defeat and frustration over the fact that I can’t rewind and recapture my own youth, much less the youth of my children who are growing up fast and establishing lives of their own.

Maybe that’s the point of the verse, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1,2). If you’re “at a certain age,” lift up your eyes and seek help from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He is the one who helps you. And besides, it keeps the skin from sagging forward and exaggerating the wrinkles.

I’m Not a Backseat Driver

Back Seat DriverI probably should clarify.

A couple of days ago, I wrote, “First, my two older daughters went off to college and found boyfriends and started talking about getting married and having kids of their own.”

To be clear, my daughters went off to college two years ago, and those boyfriends have since come and gone. I wasn’t contemplating present boyfriends (although if present boyfriends take the time to read an empty nest blog, they can’t be half bad).

Just for the record, my daughters aren’t planning to get married until they finish college, which is at least two years off. Life can change drastically in two days, much less in two years.

My point was that those choices are entirely theirs. They reached a point, nearly overnight, where they started contemplating a future mostly without me—unless I want to camp out in their back seats.

And that’s my other point. I don’t. They need their own cars, and I need a new one—in more ways than one. As much as I’ve enjoyed telling them what to do for much of their lives—and as much as they seem to now enjoy telling me what to do—it’s nearly time to drive in separate cars down separate roads.

I’ll accompany them as long as they need me, but I’m proud that they’re showing themselves capable of traveling alone. (Of course, not really alone.)

Soon it will be time to take the next exit. If I miss it, the next one may be a long way off, and that would be a waste. I want every mile to count.

Who’s the Mom?

MomDaughter1These are the moments when I realize the tide has turned.

“Mom, that stuff’s not good for you. Here, drink some water.”

“Mom, don’t be afraid. God is in control, and everything’s going to be all right!”

“Mom, maybe you need to be a little more patient with Dad.”

“Mom, really?”

It’s not the usual teenager guff. It’s real wisdom being played back for me just as I originally presented it to them, only now I’m on the receiving end and feeling a bit rebellious. They stare at me with mature, pleading expressions as if to say, “I love you, Mom, and I really want you to get this—before it’s too late.”

My feelings are a broiling mixture of pride and incredulousness. I’m still the mom. I still know more than they do, right?

Sometimes I actually wonder. Some days it feels like they’ve taken the ball I’ve passed them and run with it much farther than I could ever dream of running. They do things I can’t do. They know things I don’t know. And I’m thankful. But I don’t want to give up my throne.

I’m still moving forward, but clearly not as fast. They will continue increasing in wisdom long after I start repeating the same stories over and over. (I’ve already started doing that.)

If I want to stay ahead of them, there’s only one way—I must continue to grow in grace.

The Beginning of Goodbye

Off To Summer CampHow could I have known? The first time I dropped my kids off at summer camp was the beginning of a long goodbye.

I was thankful then for the break—thankful because it was temporary. But when my kids came home, something had changed. They had changed. They were more self-assured and had started talking about independent life goals.

I was proud of them. After all, I’d always wanted them to grow up to live joyful, capable lives without me.

Someday.

But not yet.

I only recognized in retrospect when “someday” actually came. First, my two older daughters went off to college and found boyfriends and started talking about getting married and having kids of their own. Then my son landed a summer camp job, leaving only my youngest daughter at home. She quickly began clamoring to join him. She’s a natural organizer and loves to work almost more than she loves to play. No doubt the camp will soon recognize her talents and snatch her up, too.

That’s where I am today. Perched on the edge of my almost empty nest, looking out at a vast and ever-changing world and wondering what to do next. I feel a deep sense of loss, yet I know I must keep singing and maybe even spread my wings and do a little flying of my own.

That means more than working. I’ve been doing that all along. It means redefining my priorities so that motherhood is on a more even plain with other consequential things.

I will always be a mother—but it’s time to be more.