How many times did I hear this phrase or ones similar to it: Time flies, Stop and smell the roses, You’ll miss these days, The days are long but the years are short etc. Of course like most people under 40, I just smiled and went on about my life.
I knew my children would grow up. I knew they would need me less and less each year. I was aware as some point in my life I knew I would become an empty nester. Even with all the warnings, I never saw it coming. One day I was making lunches, hauling children to activities, listening to angsty teenagers call from college, wanting an ear but no advice. And for me the empty nester situation had an added layer called divorce. I didn’t see that coming either.
How many times have I thought if I could just do that over? I was much too focused on appearances and what other people thought, to listen to my children as well as I could have. I lost my temper when I grew short of patience. Longing for those days when my children were young and my marriage before it was destroyed by my ex-husband, comes to me in waves. The waves come less often and are not a intense as they once were.
I have allowed myself to heal. A broken heart and regrets take time to get better and to not be painful 24/7. With counseling, a renewed faith in God and his faithfulness, I am so much better. And I do my best to enjoy each day for what it has to offer. I even have an opportunity to be a better caregiver as I have been the nanny to three young children for the past 6.5 years. I’ve mellowed over the years.
I am still growing and changing. Still searching for the motivation to pursue things that brought me joy in the past like writing, sewing, photography lessons, learning a foreign language. When I had all sorts of time, I wasted it. Now I work 10 plus hours a day, coming home exhausted, it has been a struggle but I found a book called Best Year Yet, A Journal for Becoming your Best self by Chronicle books. One of my problems was and still is I can’t think of anything to do beyond what I’ve already done. This book gives me different activities to do focusing on general areas most people would like to improve. I’ve completed January and February activities and I moved onto March. It’s not always easy, I find excuses but having an actual list has encouraged me to push forward.
Not sure how it became 2023. Time really does fly and I should have listened to those who knew and slowed down.
When I found myself divorced, I became very depressed. I honestly believed God had forgotten me and that I’d never find joy in my life again. I was unemployed for 4.5 years. I was living off of a rapidly dwindling 401k. And while countless people offered advice on finding a job, no matter what type of job I applied for, I wouldn’t get any response. And trust me I tried the most basic, hourly wage jobs to things for which I’d be better suited. Nothing.
I decided I needed to move closer to my eldest daughter because she lived in a very affordable city. Depression came with me and so did the tears. I really didn’t see a way out of my situation beyond moving in with my daughter or mother. And then a miracle happened.
My daughter was working as a nanny, part-time and her employers needed someone for the two extra days. I jumped at the chance because the small amount of money, would help me stay afloat. I had no idea I was about to fall in love.
From day one of caring for APL, my depression began to lift. It wasn’t so heavy. There was sunshine instead of dark clouds. Several months after starting, my daughter left to have my first grandson and chose not to return to work. So now I was the full-time care provider for this sweet boy.
I tell him God knew I needed him and sent me to this town so I could take care of him. He was 16 months old when I began and soon will be 6 and heading to first grade. Just like with my own kids, the time has flown.
While from time to time, my depression returns, it leaves quickly and is never as severe. Two more children have been added to my employer’s family and with it more joy.
I should have trusted God. He knew what he was doing the entire time.
God is Good! When I found myself divorced 6.5 years ago, I believed I would never own a home again. I couldn’t find a job. I was living off a quickly depleting 401K and felt utterly unrooted and that was the key. It wasn’t that I hated renting, but it gave me the feeling of impermanence. Prior to the divorce, I had lived in the same community for almost 30 years. Now in 6.5 years I have made 5 moves. Never underestimate God.
After trying to qualify for a mortgage a few years ago, I felt it was a lost cause. Then I decided to try again at the first of this year. The mortgage broker with whom I spoke, told me I could NOT qualify. It was heartbreaking. Then a dear friend told me to try someone else so I did. After giving him my information, he said I could qualify!! I couldn’t believe my ears. In fact I am not certain I believed, until I received the CLEAR TO CLOSE email in my inbox. I’ll be closing the end of May and moving in mid-July. I’ll have no help but somehow I’ll manage.
Upon seeing that email, I began to cry. They were tears of joy but my heart was and still is full of so many emotions. Gratefulness, happiness, joy, coupled with fear and sadness. Why fear and why sadness? My daughter and her family are moving 1,635 miles away to the East. My younger daughter lives 1,412 miles to the West. According to google maps they are 2,711 miles apart. And this will be the first time in my entire life, I have lived with no family or close friends nearby.
Being alone, not living alone, but having no one near to call on in an emergency scares me. I’ll be alone on all major holidays except Christmas. I won’t be there when my daughter has her 2nd child in November. With a 50 hours per week job and not a lot of extra money, the ability to travel to see them is and will be very limited. And that doesn’t include trying to see my 82 yr old mother and sister who live 1,242 miles away.
But God is good and I will never underestimate Him again. If this is where He wants me to live and work, then I will accept it and find joy. As I approach my 60th birthday, it is ever more evident that life doesn’t roll along like a slow paced creek, but it rushes by like river rapids. There is no time to waste. I have to get onboard and go for the ride.
Say hello to my family. It isn’t exactly the family I imagined I’d have. My husband, the girls’ father isn’t in the picture anymore, literally and figuratively. For a long time after he left, I felt like a failure. It took a few years, lots of counseling, support from my daughters and son-in-law, and loads of prayer to finally understand I wasn’t a failure.
I did spend lots of time being mad at God. I couldn’t understand why He didn’t answer my prayer to save my marriage. Slowly but surely God guided me to an understanding that sometimes He doesn’t say Yes, but He says I have something better planned for you.
I am no longer on the journey to a 50th wedding anniversary and it still disappoints me, but I’ve experienced so much joy in the last few years, I am beginning to grasp God’s plan. I don’t have the power to see into the future so I don’t actually know which direction God will be taking me next. I’ve moved 6 times since 2012 and have gone from living in 4200 sq. ft house with a pool and home theater to a 1000 sq. ft duplex. I live in a town I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago. I live here because I wanted to be close to my daughter and son-in-law.
In less than 18 months, they will be moving across the country to the Northeast. My other daughter lives in CA. Again, having my girls living so far apart wasn’t part of my plan. I still pray God can work it out so we can all live near one another. I will continue to work daily on trusting him,
My life is going in a new direction and I am waiting to see where that leads me.
I have wondered why God set me on this path to live in Temple, TX. While there is nothing wrong with it, I don’t feel at home here. I know my kids are leaving in two years and I’ll leave the too. There is no reason to stay. This town is not conveniently located near an airport so I could travel to see my girls, so I know it’s temporary. I was having trouble digging myself out of the sadness and then,
Enter this young man
My daughter was watching him three days a week and another woman was watching him the other two days. Turns out the other woman was completely ignoring him and making him sit on the rug! My daughter asked if I’d like to take the other lady’s place. I said Yes! Immediately A.P.L. stole my heart.
I’ve watched him now for 8 months. And a couple of months ago I realized why God had sent me to Temple. APL needed me and I needed him. I now watch him 5 days a week. He named me, Mimi and I couldn’t love him more if he was my own flesh and blood. My depression is almost 100% under control. I have a day every now and then but it’s rare I feel bad.
So thank you Lord for taking me on this path, even if in the beginning I didn’t understand. It’s a big reminder You know what you’re doing and I just need to trust.
Above is a photo of the Ethan Allen hall table I purchased at a resale shop for $85. Little did I know stopping at the new resale shop around the corner would turn out not to be a random choice I made.
I clicked with the owner right away. We chatted for over 45 minutes. After I made sure the table would fit, I called back and said I wanted the table.
Yesterday I stopped again to look at a small side table. Unfortunately it has sold but we began to chat again. And before I knew it this woman and her husband were praying over me. No one has ever prayed over me in my 57 years. Standing in a circle of three, hearing ‘Lord lift her up, remind her Lord you have better days planned for her’ and many more words of love, I left the store choking back tears.
As much as I love my new ‘used’ table, I believe there was divine intervention and the table was just used to get me inside to meet these wonderful people.
My heart and head are not in alignment. My head says forgive myself. My heart says no I don’t deserve it. I play over and over in my head all of the mistakes I’ve made as a mother, a wife, a daughter and friend and find it impossible to forgive myself.
I’m not exactly sure why because I forgive easily others. Sometimes it might take awhile but I eventually do. I still cry when I remember some of the things I’ve said. I know God forgives me, I just need the key to forgiving myself.
I’m reading an inspirational book with the story of Joseph as the basis. Interspersed throughout the book are stories of ordinary people. The author knows these people first hand and have watched them suffer unspeakable trauma and sorrow. Yet all of them come through the fire with a stronger faith.
What about those of us who aren’t strong? Who don’t have the emotional strength to carry on? Who try through prayer and worship to gain strength and faith and still are weak? Who still are hopeless?
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to take a moment and ask you to think about how you define “family.”
Is it just those legally related to you by blood and/or marriage? Or are you one of the generous and loving souls who has a broader definition of family? In the last four years I have sadly discovered the majority of people keep the definition of family very narrow.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where my parents always opened their doors to anyone who might be left alone on a holiday. I did the same all the years I was married. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter I always checked to make certain everyone I knew had plans. Over the years we celebrated with a wide variety of people. My girls didn’t hesitate to invite friends to join us because they knew I’d always say yes.
How unfortunate that not a single one of my Texas friends checked even once in 2014 and 2015 and now 2016, with me to see that I won’t be alone. With one daughter married with in-laws and the other one on the West coast, I would have been alone this year until a last minute change in plans for my married daughter. The only one to invite me is the family I babysit for and I barely know them. What does that say about my friends who told me countless times we were family?
It is difficult in this electronic world to make friends. It’s even more difficult when you no longer have the natural outlets of children, school, neighbors, or work to make friends. Churches may preach friendliness but I’ve yet to find one that truly reaches out.
Please take a moment this holiday season and ask everyone you know if they have plans. No one wants to announce she/he will be alone on a holiday, so don’t expect them to ask for an invitation or announce they are alone. Open your doors. If you need help with food expense, ask them to bring a dish. Open your hearts. I can guarantee your life will be made richer by reaching out and pulling people in.
In America we set aside a day in November to give thanks. Hopefully you give thanks to God everyday but I do think it says a lot about our country that we believe giving thanks is so important we have a holiday to celebrate it.
It’s so easy to lose sight of what really matters. Life moves as such a quick pace. One day you’re celebrating your 30th anniversary and what feels like overnight, you are approaching your 4th anniversary of being divorced. And while I am sadden my marriage didn’t make it, I am so thankful for the two incredible daughters I have. And I’ve got one incredible son-in-law. God has faithfully answered my prayer recently for one daughter and I am confident he will answer my prayer for my other daughter.
I’m in good health, have a place to live at least until June 2017 and have faith God will show me the path to how to financially support myself. I’m thankful for the sweet little boy who became part of my life last month. Even though he drives me crazy sometimes, I love my cat, Finn.
I’m thankful my sister is doing well despite her cancer diagnosis. I’m thankful for Anne, Julie and Bonnie who despite the distance remain steadfast and supportive friends. I’m thankful for the kind blogger souls who offer words of encouragement. And I’m thankful 2016 is the year I’ve actually begun to write seriously. 50,000 words and counting to the end of my book.
I may not have a big house, a large group coming for dinner, but as Thanksgiving comes around this year, I more thankful than I’ve ever been.