I’ve been thinking about families lately. Mostly about how they change and the stages they go through.
There’s the young family. Everyone loves a young family. There is so much excitement. A new family. Pregnancy announcement. Gender identification. A new baby. A first tooth. First steps. Exploring. Discovering. All good stuff. Little ones are just so cute. We dress them up so sweetly. They say the funniest things as they learn the norms of society. I love little families. I read way too many blogs about little families!
Then there are the teenage families. So very different! Teenagers sleep so late. They have things figured out or so they think. They dress themselves. You’ll notice there aren’t nearly as many teenage families in the blog world. Really, few people want to read about that life. We all remember being a teenager – the emotional angst, the hormones, the trying to figure out everything for ourselves. We are just grateful we don’t have to live through that phase again. In our family, though, I am grateful that they can all help and they can talk to me about how they feel. They are good girls.
Then there are the blended families – big and little kids. So you have the adorable cuteness along side the “I’m not getting up before noon” going on. Those are fun because usually Mom is pretty laid back with the last ones as compared to the beginning ones. Let’s just face it, Mom is tired and is doing the best she can. (Spoken by a Mother who knows :) )
Of course, then there’s the special needs families. They break all molds. Different feelings entirely on special needs families, but not the subject of this processing post.
I’ve found it interesting to watch families this summer. Listening to girls Lizzy’s age (10), I hear things like summer activities Mom has planned and required reading that Mom prescribed. And I remember the days my family was little. I’ve been over to teenage houses this summer where Moms have had to lie to their kids to have them get dressed by 4PM because we were secretly coming to kidnap them for ice cream. Looking at the contrast, I’ve wondered at the different phases of life.
This is a big summer around here. No big plans, no grand vacation, but a lot of emotional processing happening. Becca is leaving home. We are entering into another stage – college. It’s different than the cute stage. It’s different than the sleep all day phase. Right now it’s a going through, sifting through phase. Picking up pieces, looking, reviewing, deciding if this has a place in our world phase. Cleaning a room that has been lived in for years. Sifting through stuffed animals, awards, clothes, papers. Everything has a memory. Everything is associated with someone. Some things (lots of things) aren’t that important and they are tossed or donated and gone. Others are kept and we wonder what to do with them.
I walk through this house that we have lived in for ten years. Ten years of memories. I had a young family when we moved here. We read books, we painted pictures, we mummified a chicken in this house. My family was cute and sweet and cuddly. Now my original four are growing up. Lizzy will be in 5th Grade, Jessi 7th, Sammi 9th, and Becca a freshman in college. She will be living a life separate from us.
When we first bought this home, it was huge and we didn’t use all of it. Our front room sat empty for forever. Now every room has a purpose and the house is full. So full I’ve been purging, astonished by the quantity of stuff I’ve put away. Purging is hard for me. Throwing away a shirt that I remember my daughter wearing when she was young is hard. Goodbye sweet girl of my memories. I hold the dress/shirt/pants one last time and remember that little one and the love I have for her and then I let the article of clothing go. It’s silly but a part of me cries.
And now we enter a new phase. My kids are starting to leave me. The purging is happening in a way I don’t want. People, not just stuff, are leaving. It’s emotionally exhausting. I know that they will always be my kids, but it’ll never be the same. Just like I can’t go back and bring back my little family with it’s routines, cuddles, and giggles. I can’t keep my girls as teenagers forever. But I know I don’t want to. They need to keep growing, keep exploring, keep becoming.
So here I find myself. Entering a new phase. Everyone will be in school, except Brother, and even he has a KISD teacher that comes out to the house once a week. For the first time since Becca started Kindergarten I won’t be home schooling this year. My life is changing, big time. I don’t know what the next phase will bring.
This last Conference, Elder Scott said: “He has spoken of a time and a season for all things. In response to our sincere prayers for guidance, He will direct us in what should be emphasized at each phase of our life.”
This changing time is a time to seek the Lord’s will for this next phase of my life. What should be the emphasis? It’s not teaching my children in the academic sense. With Bella’s health improving, it’s not spending more time with doctors and nurses. With infertility, it’s not getting pregnant and starting the whole process over again. I’ll just keep living and praying and hoping that when my grandchildren are at this phase that I will be pleased with me, with my life, and the love I have invested in my children over the years.