I’ve had a busy week this week catching up with friends I haven’t seen in a while for lunch or coffee and fitting in some work and housework around that. Although it’s been busy I’ve been feeling low. My friend E called on Thursday morning to check I was still up for going for a walk with her and asked how I was. At first I gave her the standard ‘yeah okay’ and then I was more true to myself and told her I was feeling down. Anyway we arranged to catch up about 2pm after her meeting.
I eventually got myself out of bed and ready to go out and went for coffee. I hadn’t seen this particular friend for a few months so it was good to catch up. Afterwards I decided to squeeze in an appointment for an eyebrow/eyelash tint and wax so I messaged E to say I’d be home slightly later for our walk.
When I eventually walked into her kitchen that afternoon I did a double take. My mind couldn’t quite process it properly. My son S who was in Australia was sitting at her kitchen table! My jaw hit the floor and I was dumbfounded for a few minutes. I couldn’t believe he was there!
Needless to say the walk I thought I was going for didn’t happen. Instead we went home so S could get a shower and we went to visit a good friend of his in hospital. His friend had a nasty accident at work two weeks ago and ended up having to get his lower leg amputated (another reason why S was keen to get home).
Later we were able to surprise my hubby and my daughter R when they got home from work. They were both late in as R was going wakeboarding after work and hubby was going to an Escape Room with some colleagues. The reaction from R was particularly fun. She was so excited to see her brother.
We were banned from putting anything on social media until he’d seen all the friends he wanted to surprise (hence the delay in my post) although I’m pretty sure none of his friends are following this blog. 😄
So looking forward to hearing more about S’s trip and seeing all his photos. It will be interesting to see how he has matured during his time away too – I think that’s inevitable. We have a family holiday planned in a couple of weeks too. We’re off to Croatia (a first for all of us). I will definitely post some pics of that. 😊
Just so you know straight off this post has nothing to do with any song by the same name. I guess it just seemed like an appropriate title today. It’s been one of those days (do you ever get them?) when something sets you off crying in the morning and then you basically don’t stop.
This morning it was this Facebook post that set me off. As you know my kids are in their early twenties. My son is currently in Australia and my daughter is heading off to California in a few months. Like almost every mum on the planet I’ve poured everything I could into my kids – so much love and patience and encouragement. I’ve tried to teach them and train them and prepare them for life the best I could but they don’t come with a manual do they? I’ve tried to be everything they needed me to be as a mum but I’m not perfect and I’ve made mistakes and I wonder if I’ve let them down? Do they still love me as much now that they’ve grown and they know about my imperfections?
I didn’t understand ’empty nest syndrome’ when my kids were younger. I guess I always thought it would be nice to have your freedom back again and be able to do whatever you want without having to worry about looking after little ones. When the reality starts to hit though it’s pretty different. You realise that you’re not the same person you were before you had kids. Maybe your other half isn’t the same person either. You need to figure out what you like and what you want in life all over again. The house is too quiet and your friends are busy with their own lives. You have responsibilities like jobs and bills that restrict the freedom you dreamed of having once the kids were grown. I guess for me raising my kids was always the most important job I had even though I was only a stay at home mum until they started school. So maybe it’s also about an adjustment in how I think of myself.
I’m not quite at the empty nest stage yet but it’s definitely becoming more real and looking like the reality is getting much closer. I guess I’m beginning to process it now in the hope that I’ll be properly ready for it when it actually happens. To all the other mums and dads out there who don’t see as much of your kids as you’d like and wish you’d made more of the time you had, I feel your pain (if only a little bit of it right now). Change is the only constant in life as they say. Just gotta learn to deal with it I suppose.
What a year it’s been. Without a doubt the most challenging of my life so far. There have been ups and downs but definitely more downs. There has been struggle and loss and periods of calm in the storms. You’ve been through a lot of that with me – thank you for that. You know even though it’s been so hard and I’ve made mistakes I’m not sure which bits I would change. Sometimes I think God uses the really tough stuff in our lives to prepare us and change us into what he needs us to be. I was reflecting the other day on what I had learned and what I was grateful for even in all the difficulties.
Some things I have learned:
- It’s okay to be me – in fact it’s better to be me than to wear a mask – even though it’s sometimes the more difficult option.
- There are some genuinely loving and non-judgemental people in the world (and in the church).
- Asking questions and taking an interest makes people feel loved and special (sounds obvious huh?).
- I can be brave and step out of my comfort zone.
- Writing – this blog and other things – really helps me process.
Some things I am grateful for:
- My two amazing kids who somehow are still strong in their faith and confident in themselves and kind and thoughtful and loving.
- That my Papa never ever leaves me and that He carries me through even the most difficult times.
- My friends and family members who have stuck with me through all the ups and downs and who genuinely want what’s best for me without an agenda.
- God loves me just because I’m His kid and not because of anything I did or didn’t do.
- I’m still here and getting stronger.
It would be very convenient if I could say that all the challenges of this year were neatly tied up and the struggles were over ready to start the new year with a clean slate but that’s not the reality. Really January 1st is just another day. There are still struggles and challenges to overcome and difficulties to deal with. One thing is certain though – Papa will be right beside me in it all. He’s always there, carrying me through.
As this new year comes in what I’m working on is shifting my focus. Trying to stop thinking about my own struggles so much and instead thinking about how I can be a blessing and an encouragement to others. I’m pretty sure I will need reminded of this as it can be easy to slip back into overthinking and maybe even self-pity. I’m thinking of making it my mission to bless as many people as I can every day. I’m not sure what that will look like yet but I guess if I can do something to help even one person have a slightly better day that would be a good thing.
I hope and pray for all of you reading this that 2019 will be better than 2018 (whether it was a good year or not), that God will bless you and prosper you in every way, that you will have good health and love and peace and fun. That every day will bring joy and revelations and new adventures as you journey with Papa and grow in faith and love.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!
What a weekend! And it’s only halfway through 😝.
Last night we had a leaving party for our youngest who leaves for Australia in only three and a half days. I have really mixed feelings about that. It’s a fantastic experience for him. He’ll get to travel and experience a different culture and see some fantastic new places. He’ll make new friends and gain a new level of independence. No doubt he’ll grow heaps and get to know who he is and what his true values are. Part of me is a little bit jealous of him 😆. On the other hand I also feel a bit nervous about him leaving – not for him – I know he’s gonna be absolutely fine. I’m nervous for me! The house is going to be a whole lot quieter (probably tidier too 😉) with him gone. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle the almost empty nest. It will bring a different dynamic to our family. He’s often the one who notices if I’m a bit down too and comes to give me a big hug. I’ll really miss that.
The party was fun. It was great catching up with friends, chatting to lots of different people and having a few dances with my daughter and some of my son’s friends. I had been a little bit unsure whether some of the guests would be friendly towards me but it was okay in the end.
Today we had an early start after our late night to get organised for my brothers and sister and their families and my aunts and uncles all turning up at my house to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. I kinda enjoy hosting parties but it can be a bit of pressure too. It’s been a long time since any of my aunts and uncles have visited with us (we tend to go to them). Yesterday I spent most of the day cleaning and preparing to make sure I didn’t ‘let the side down’ 😂. It’s so weird that even within families there are certain people you feel you have to make everything look perfect for. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day thankfully. I really enjoyed chatting with some of my nieces and catching up on their lives. It’s lovely having the little ones around who are so full of energy and fun but I also really enjoy ‘getting to know’ the young adults as they step into their own lives independent from their parents. It’s funny how they grow and mature and can be so different as young adults from the strange little creatures they were as kids 🤪.
Anyway two successful parties down, house tidied and glass of prosecco in hand. What can I get up to next?
So I started this post on Sunday morning and now it is Tuesday. Pretty typical for me really. Don’t have time to finish one thing before moving on to another. So I’m now editing to make sure it makes sense. Hope I get it finished today or I’ll be editing all over again.
On Sunday morning I was reading about the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). You know the story. She’s the one who met Jesus and he told her all about her life, the fact that she’d had several husbands and the man she was living with now wasn’t married to her. Well it got me thinking about how God knows us so deeply and intimately. He knows every hair on our heads. He knows us inside and out, the good and the bad, the stuff everyone else knows and the stuff no one else knows. There is nothing in our lives or in our hearts that is hidden from him. He knows us better than we know ourselves and somehow he still loves us.
Sometimes we struggle to even love ourselves. I don’t know if this is worse for women or if it’s a personality thing or what? But I know that when I’m chatting with friends we’re always picking ourselves up on what we don’t like whether it’s the shape of our bodies, our weight, our bad habits or the things we feel we’re not good enough at. Maybe it’s cultural too. We Scots don’t like to seem ‘big-headed’, we’re not good at ‘blowing our own trumpet’, we really need to work on positive affirmations but we often do the opposite and put ourselves down.
I think we look at that stuff we don’t like or the things we think others will disapprove of or judge us on and we build walls to stop people from seeing that stuff. We want to protect ourselves from their judgement, from their arrows. The walls are thicker in some places than others, maybe where we’ve been wounded before. In a few places there are small gaps where we allow our safe friends through. The problem with building walls is that they not only protect us from attack they also keep out the good stuff. They make it hard for people to love us. They make it hard for us to feel love. Recently I’ve struggled to feel loved by others. I’ve been numb to it. Even when my kids hug me I just haven’t been feeling their love. I’m starting to realise that my protective walls are causing a problem. I’m gonna need to dismantle them, at least in part (I’m still aware of the need to guard my heart – I guess I have to work out what that balance looks like). It’s scary. Dismantling walls leaves you open to attack. But it also allows people to love you. It leaves you open to judgement and rejection but it also allows your friends and family to get close.
At church on Sunday the speaker was talking about family – church family and biological family. She said a couple of interesting things that I want to share. First she said that judgement comes from those who are on the outside looking in. If you’re announcing that church (or someone in your family) SHOULD be this or that you’re not including yourself in that family. If we’re in this together we won’t judge. I was picturing those on the outside of my walls being judgemental – I don’t even know if that’s fair – many of them I haven’t allowed the chance to be judgemental or otherwise. She also said people feel seen and known when nothing is hidden and there is no shame. She said everyone should have at least a few friends that know their deepest secrets. To let people in like that walls have to come down but it’s a risk. On the other hand isn’t being seen and known what we really desire?
It’s tough to trust other people with my heart like that. It’s already feeling beaten up enough. I’m not sure how much more injury it can take. But being seen and known brings real freedom too. Maybe it’s time to take down the walls? Slowly. Just one stone at a time. I don’t know. Maybe?