If Drew decides to serve a mission, he could be leaving this time next year. In just six short years, Gentry will be graduating from high school and Gregg and I will be empty nesters.
When my kids were all very small, I couldn't even begin to imagine this time in my life. It was a passing thought that I never dwelt on or necessarily looked forward to. I love being a mom. It brings me more satisfaction and sense of peace than anything thing else I could be spending my time doing. For me, it's been the most worthwhile "work" in every sense of the word.
But, the reality is, my kids are growing up, and one is now even an adult. Gentry will start seventh grade this year. And eventually, it will be just Gregg and I again.
A few days ago I drove Sierra, Gentry, and their friend Zoe to Sea World. When we arrived, I just pulled up to the curb, dropped them off, and yelled out the window, "Have fun, be safe!" For many years, and when Gregg had to travel for what seemed like weeks on end, the kids and I would get season Sea World passes. I can remember Sadie (age ten) pushing one stroller with Gentry riding, and me pushing the other with Sierra. We would go in the afternoon, pack a lunch and then stay for the fireworks. As I drove away from Sea World yesterday, I shook my head and thought, "I just want to go back".
I have the constant need to be working toward self improvement in every area of my life…mentally, physically, spiritually. When I don't have growth, when I don't have challenges, when I start to feel "stuck", I start to feel very unhappy. This summer, I have felt myself at times, on that familiar and precarious ledge of "unhappy". For the past twenty years, much of my self-evaluation and shifting in thought has had to do with a constant striving to become a better mom.
I will always be a mom. My children will always need me on some level. But, they are also developing into the confident and happy grow-ups that I've always wanted them to become. And now, in this "somewhere in-between" place, I am working to find a way to embrace this stage in my life, just like I've always tried to embrace every stage in my life.
I still have a lot to contribute, not just to my family, but to my faith and this big, wide world around me. My Heavenly Father still has a plan for me, I'm just trying to discover what that plan looks like, and how it's evolving as I move forward each day.
I have ideas and projects and things I'm working on. One of those projects started as one of those little ideas that just wouldn't go away and then developed into something that I feel is very worthwhile. I hope to share this project with all of you sometime in the near future. It's something I'm very excited about and something I believe has the potential to do much good.
Until then, we are enjoying the last couple of weeks of summer. Recently, when the kids were all at camp, Gregg and I spent a week in Flagstaff. And instead of bringing the kids, we brought the pets.
And no one even asked us, "Are we there yet?" Although I'm sure they were wondering.
Flagstaff has become one of my very favorite places.
And after spending time with Gregg hiking, trying new restaurants, and just taking a break from the daily grind, I decided that being an "empty nester" might just have some really nice perks. But, until then, I am going to continue forward with my mom job, and try to absorb every beautiful experience and love this in-between place.
(And one little sad note….a few people have asked about our other Bengal kitten Cairo. Two weeks after bringing him home we discovered that he had some very serious health problems and had to take him back to the breeder. And yes, Sierra and I both cried when we returned him.)