Visiting the kids

I always thought that my children would move away from home, but never considered that “home” might move away from them…even though this happened to me. Oh, how life repeats itself! My parents moved out-of-state during my sophomore year of college. I had no idea then, but am guessing now that it was hard for them to move far from their daughter.

My husband and I moved to FL two years ago during my son’s freshman year of college, then last year we moved to VA. Kids don’t come “home” for their breaks, because this isn’t home to them. They come to visit Mom and Dad for the Christmas holiday – we get to see them for a week or two then.

In the meantime, we travel to visit them. We just got back from a 5-day trip to Colorado Springs, where our son is interning for the summer. We had a great visit, and explored his new temporary home with him, enjoying Garden of the Gods, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a drive along the scenic Arkansas River, and even the Colorado Springs Rodeo Parade in the downtown.

My husband and I lived out West when we were first married, and so we really enjoyed being back in the red rock mountains.  The whole visit was good, but the best part was just being with our son.

from Garden of the Gods
son and husband, along the Arkansas River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

family graduation photo

A couple of months before that, we celebrated my daughter’s college graduation with the entire family. While it was only for a 3-day weekend, we packed it full of fun and memories.

We’ll see our daughter again in a few weeks at the annual camping trip we take with another family – we’ve been camping with them for 27 years now! This will be the first year without our son, and one of their daughters got married last year, so we’ve added to our group. But again, what I’m most looking forward to is seeing our daughter.

Our visits with the kids are not regular, but do seem to be consistently frequent. The couple of weeks at Christmas, plus these visits we can do in between. I wish it were more, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. We raise our kids to be independent people, and then they go and do that – be independent!

I can’t help but think that if we lived closer, we might drop by more often. For one of my daughter’s shows, or for my son’s concert, or simply to take them to dinner. But we’ve never wanted to be hovering parents, so maybe this is better in the long run.

husband and me at Pikes Peak, CO

My husband and I are learning to be empty-nesters. Everyone told us it would be a challenge, they just didn’t tell us it would take so long to get used to it! But we are learning to enjoy our time together – just us – and the freedom that offers to see and explore what we want to do. So much of our lives has been about the kids – it’s good to get back to us.

But we still miss the kids.

So we’ll pack our family visits full of memories. And we’ll enjoy our kids all we can while we’re with them.

And I thank God for texting and Skype in the meantime. And visits to Colorado and camping. Good times!

Not depressed

I haven’t been depressed for a while. But I said it out loud today. “I’m not depressed.”

The move to Virginia certainly brought up feelings like depression – loneliness, fatigue, a little hopelessness. For me, that’s different from depression, which is lots of hopelessness.  But the transition of moving was hard, like a mild depression without all the full-on depression characteristics. I wondered if the feelings would intensify and change to depression. I think I lived with some fear that it would come back due to the move.

But today, in my psychiatrist’s office, I told him that I’m not depressed.

We’re going to reduce one of my meds, which makes me a little nervous, because it’s the med that brought me out of depression in the first place. But it has a weird side-effect – chewing. I chew my teeth together all the time; I’m grinding my teeth all day. In an effort to keep this from becoming a permanent motion, we’re cutting that anti-depressant in half. I’m a little nervous about it, about the depression returning without the full medication to keep it at bay. But I think I’m in a better place emotionally, and so I’m willing to give the reduction a try.

It’s nice to not be depressed. My days are full of light, not grayness.  I can hear when birds chirp – the finches found my feeder, and seeing them flit around gives me a brief joy. I don’t dread each day, which I had been doing after the move here. I have energy, and am seriously considering adding exercise back into my routine. This was never a workable plan when I was depressed: I knew I should exercise, but couldn’t work up the energy to do it. I still probably sleep too much – I nap almost every day because I have nothing better to do. But I’m sleeping well at night, so I’m not worried about it – I’m napping from boredom, not depression.  I’m eating and sleeping well. I look forward to seeing people. Looking forward – that’s not depression.

I still have brief bouts of sadness or anxiety, but can usually recover pretty quickly with prayer. Getting my eyes off myself and back onto the Lord – who He is, how He sees me and loves me – eases those emotions. When I was depressed, I couldn’t lift my eyes from my misery, and sure couldn’t see God in it.  I had to trust He was there, because I didn’t feel Him at all.  I depended on the truths I knew from Scripture about God’s goodness, because I didn’t sense it, didn’t believe it with my emotions. I had great friends reminding me of His presence and companionship, His faithfulness and care. That’s the emptiness of depression – so self-focused that I was unable to see God with me. Those negative emotions have lessened. Now it’s just occasional – normal – feelings.

It’s nice to feel normal.

Living Here Now

I had another realization this week.

As this year has passed, and I’ve struggled to “settle in” to my new home, I’ve been treating it as a temporary assignment. As if we’re only living here for a year or so, and then moving again (which is what happened with living in Florida – we were there only 15 months).  I’ve been reluctant to commit my emotions to living in Virginia, because I’ve been looking to the future as impending change, and I’ve been looking back with deep longing. I was finally feeling settled in Florida when we moved, and so I’ve been missing it a lot. I’ve compared my day-to-day in Virginia to my days in Florida, and every day came up wanting.

Then a morning devotional grabbed my attention with the story of Lot’s wife; I was challenged to not spend too much time looking back. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with looking back at memories and lessons learned. But to spend time longing for days past is time wasted. We don’t live our lives backwards, and I’ve been keeping myself from moving forward by not fully embracing my current living situation. I’m missing out on what God has for me “now” because I’m focused on “back then.”

Some of this is simply the natural progression of moving and adjusting to a new home. As I’ve said before, this process takes time – a year, at least. And we’ve been a year now in Virginia, so it’s time for these things to be working themselves out. But I realized that I’ve been clinging to the past, and that’s different.

I live here now, in Virginia. And in many ways, I am embracing it: I got a job; I’m slowly making friends; I think we’ve found a church home. We’ve explored the area. The boxes are unpacked. We’ve hosted out-of-town guests.

But I haven’t given my emotions to life here. They’ve been focused in the past.

It’s time for my emotions to catch up with my actions, with my life. I’ve prayed about contentment, but with my emotions stuck in the past, it’s hard to be satisfied. So now I’ll pray that I can embrace my life in Virginia with my whole life – emotions included.

I’m going to live in the now. God gives me today. This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:74 (emphasis mine, personalized).

Something to look foward to

I had an epiphany yesterday: I have very little that I am looking forward to.

This is a rude realization – it reeks of hopelessness and hints at depression. It leaves me feeling empty and sad.

And I see that it needs to be remedied.

I’m not talking about planning a vacation, or what museums to explore on the weekends. It’s not about looking forward to a trip, even a trip to see my kids.

What I crave is people. Interactions with others. Social relationships. Fellowship, as discussed in today’s sermon, where you give yourself to others, and they give themselves to you. I miss the opportunity to be in ministry, to be in leadership. To serve others. To be with others.

My job is not filling the need I had hoped – to connect with co-workers and to forge relationships. Instead, I work with an individual, do the paperwork, and go home. Very little to no interaction with anyone other than my student. Not what I was looking for in a job.

I could turn my attention to volunteering. Perhaps I should register with the local hospital, and find some hours that fill my days with people.

I am enjoying my Bible Study and look forward to Thursdays,  I also look expectantly to lunch dates, or chiropractic appointments, or anything else that gets me out of the house during the otherwise long days.

I need to find hope in my day-to-day. To have things that make getting out of bed worth it. I admit that I stay in bed many mornings because I have nothing I need to get up for.

What if I joined a gym? Would I look forward to walking on the treadmill, next to others walking too? I know I appreciated and even looked forward to my physical therapy – maybe it would be the same. Maybe I would even make a friend or two.

How can I become more eager to get out of bed to meet with Jesus? My Bible Study helps with that, definitely. I am excited to see what God will teach me. But how do I translate that to daily living? To jumping out of bed so that I can meet with God in my quiet time? Is that enough to bolt me from my bed every morning? I reluctantly admit that it is not, at least not yet. Maybe that is an area where I am growing.

And as I keep saying, these things – relationships – take time.

So I’ll be excited to do my daily Bible Study. I’ll anticipate lunch with a friend. I’ll look into volunteering. And I’ll pray for God to bring me the enthusiasm to get going each day, to expect what and who He has for me.  Perhaps those friendships are coming, and can be something to look forward to!

Missing my kids…

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My 20-something kids left this morning after two weeks of vacation. Our daughter arrived a week earlier, our son on his 21st birthday a few days before Christmas, and we’ve enjoyed a wonderful long visit. We shopped, read books, watched movies and Netflix (have you seen The Crown?!), took a two-day history tour that included Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.  We played with the cat, shared opening presents and making meals, and really enjoyed each other’s company.

And now the house is very quiet.

When we lived in WI, we could get up to visit them at school pretty easily. We didn’t hover, but could pop up for an event (concert, shopping). And being closer, even though we didn’t see them except every few months, somehow made it easier to be absent from them.

When we lived in Florida, I knew they would come for the beach and sun and escape from the winter cold of the upper Midwest.

Now, they just feel so far away and time stretches so long between visits.

And this is the way of things. We raised our kids to know Jesus, to be strong and independent, to be able to tackle problems with heads on straight. To grow to need us less. So we did it right. And it’s hard, because they’re great people and I really like spending time with them.

So I’ll choose to focus on the fun we had together and I’ll plan for our next visit northward. Who knows when, but we’ll be visiting great people!