I’m 40. I have a child who starts college this fall, another starting high school, my youngest is only a few months away from 11. This means that in roughly 7 years time, all of my children will be adults. We will be paying for college for the next 12 years in a row (sans any scholarship monies), and the reality it that there will be at least 1 wedding followed by a possible grandchild.
This blows my mind. In so many ways I feel like I am still just a youngster myself, no where even close to the vicinity of being a grandparent. These facts have hit my husband the hardest, I think, because of his work schedule. So much time has been called away from his family, and making sure that we relish the time we have left in this space as a family is incredibly important to us.
We are balancing our younger kids activities, our eldest having a job and college, his schedule, my ministry that is growing (and in short order will be a full time job). You can’t see my calendar, I don’t post my daily comings and goings online for the world to see. I am busier than most people realize, but at times that seems to be overlooked because I am a “stay home mom”.
So yes, I am going to pick family night over girls night out.
If my husband has a weekday off, I am going to choose to spend it with him over lunch at a local cafe.
As our family dynamics are changing, we have opportunities before us that have been put on hold in order to raise young children. Health issues have taken some of our energy and strength, and as we get older we need to focus on being our healthiest selves.
So yes, I may be more interested in hitting the gym than the ice cream shop.
If I need to rest or tend to my health needs, I am going to choose to do that versus fill up my schedule to the point of exhaustion.
Time is finite.
Energy is finite.
Add into the mix having an autoimmune illness, my energy capacity is less… which means that my time is even more valuable. Even on my best days, I am still running on less than energy than others.
I once read an illustration that compared life with an illness as to starting your day with a certain number of spoons. Everything takes a spoon from you. Since you are starting with a limited number of spoons to begin with… every spoon is valuable. Somethings in life take spoons from you, and you have no say over that. Getting sick, emergencies, doctors appointments, etc. Then you subtract all those necessary daily life spoons (tending to the house, kids, work, etc), you are left with the number of spoons to be spent on the things you enjoy.
There are a lot of things I enjoy. I do enjoy spending time with friends, reading, painting, going to the theatre, cooking a great meal, having fun with the kids, date nights with my husband, travel, learning, etc. Lots to enjoy, but not as much time or energy to do it all.
Spoons are nontransferable, they don’t roll over to the next day. I can’t reshuffle my spoons for days where I need more energy. If I take a lazy day and I don’t use up all of those spoons, I don’t get to keep them. Each day starts anew.
This means that I am going to be really strategic about how I spend my time. It means I may need to say no more often than others will like to hear. I may not have time for that phone call, or to help you with that favor. A life of spontaneity may elude me. I may choose to stay home and do nothing. My ringer may be turned off. I may choose to conserve my energy for my family.
Why? Because for this season, I know where I want all of those spoons to be spent. I have 7 years before my youngest is off to college. In those 7 years, we are going to see transitions in our family as the older two begin navigating adulthood.
There will come a time, when they are living life… and all of those spoons spent on my kids needs are now mine to use freely. There will be time for coffee dates, girls night out, a girls trip to an exotic location, and so much more.
What I need today, more than anything, is understanding that in this season my family is my priority. My husband. My daughters. We want to be immersed in these years in a way we have never been before. It’s funny how when they are infants you see so much time ahead of you to do all of the most wonderful things. Then one day you are slapped in the face by reality, time has passed quickly. Too quickly.
Trust me, one day you’ll find yourself in this space (it usually happens when your eldest child starts their senior year). I’ll give you grace, because I’ve been there. Until then, please give me grace. I’m navigating a new space in this parenthood journey where I want to hold onto my family a little tighter.
It’s not you, it’s me.
I need you to be ok with that.
Here is a truth, there are people in my life that I call dear friends. They are heading right into the same space I am in. We have known each other for eleven years, they were some of my first friends. We were in MOPS together, go to church together, and our kids would have play dates together. We would see each other every single week.
Now? We see each other 2-3 times per year. They get it. I get it. No one has feelings hurt, because we understand the unique needs of this time. None of these ladies ever has to explain themselves to me, nor have I ever had to explain myself to them.
This is the beauty of friendship, real friendship, that can survive the most trying of times. The friendships that evolve with time, bending not breaking. The friendships that will stand the test of time, crazy schedules, changes in life, and all the things that come along with it.