Thursday, August 23, 2012

Stream of Conciousness ala Mid-Life

It's been a long week. All week I've thought we were a day ahead of what the calendar was actually saying. I don't know why, it's quiet here so maybe it's just that. I've been catching up on paperwork, getting re-acquainted with my vacuum, booking flights for some small trips next month, nothing truly urgent or pressing in the grand scheme of things. Nothing that really has to be done today, just tasks that can be accomplished any old time. There's laundry, but not mounds. There's dust but only enough to require a quick swipe of the cloth. The dog might like a walk and the plants need a drink, but if it doesn't happen today it can happen tomorrow.

This is mid life. Pockets of furious activity and then stillness. If the girls are home or we're expecting house guests or have travel plans, then the house buzzes and so do I right along with it. I might fall into bed at night wondering where the day went. But most days are just days, blank slates waiting for me to stamp them in some form or fashion. I make schedules and lists of tasks that don't need to be scheduled or listed but I do it anyway. I don't want to turn into a slug, and in all honesty, if you're not working full time its a short slope to slug-dom in this season of life.

I've been writing and editing some things I've written with an eye to sending them off to someone somewhere. I find its best to view it as a job and set a start and stop time, even if no one is looking over my shoulder or watching the clock and measuring my performance. I'm watching the clock. When you've got kids at home, no day is wasted, not even those days where you feel like all you did was spin your wheels. You are a physical presence in the life of someone who needs your physical presence. You are building stone by stone their mental, emotional, and spiritual health with the words you say and the tone in which you say them. The words you don't say count too. Every task done and those left undone, they all matter.

With a clean quiet house it is so very easy to waste a day.

When we first moved back to the states I imagined going to work full time. The first year though was full of transition, some anticipated and some unexpected and unplanned. We spent a lot of time reconnecting in person with family and friends scattered across several states. We set up our own house along with apartments for our daughters. I was available. Available to travel with my husband and take care of getting things done here, but mostly and most importantly, I was available to spend time with my girls and my mom and siblings when hubs traveled. Relationships need nurturing and that means face time. My girls are busy. Their schedules are somewhat set and it helped that I had flexibility. We are two hours from our closest relatives and many more than that from 2/3 of our family, including our own children. If I work full time what we lose must be weighed against anything we would gain.

Time is precious. We know this, have always known it, but that truth was re-learned in a very painful way this past year. I am not quick to give up the blank slate days in exchange for something that may not be of equal value.

So how to fill all that white space that falls between the small pockets of frenzy?

Well, I don't stay in my pajamas, sleep til ten, or watch TV all afternoon. I don't eat lunch standing up, hang out in the mall or spend hours playing games on the computer. By the time you reach mid-life you know yourself. While some of those things might sound appealing for a day, anything more than that I'd find depressing.

I need structure even if its self imposed. I need to lie down at the end of a day and see that day was marked. I know I'm not defined by a title, but if someone wants to label me a homemaker I don't mind. Homes need to be made so I'll view that as a compliment. Life might be a big picture but that picture is full of detail, intricate and complex. Someone has to fill in the detail.

So I sort, wipe, file, and organize. I make phone calls, greet repairmen, deal with the mail. I wait with a smile while car brakes are inspected and the dog is examined by the vet. I take care in planning meals and travel and all the bells and whistles that make special occasions special. I run on a literal treadmill. I write blog posts and essays. I remember birthdays, read books, and pen letters that need stamps. I keep track of dental appointments, library due dates and income tax returns. I participate in a women's bible study and play Bunco now and then. I talk on the phone with my mom and my girls. I listen, advice, commiserate, encourage, love. And in this season of life, I pray.

Not the sort of prayers I threw up back in the days of no sleep and parental exhaustion. Nor are my prayers like those of a busy mother juggling the collision of homework, dance lessons and pre-teen drama that occurs everyday between the hours of 4 and 7. We've even navigated the teen years now too, so there are far fewer tears shed and prayers confessed in the dark of night over tempers lost or bad decisions made.

After muddling through this season called mid-life for a year or five, I've come to recognize the blank slate for what it is~a gift. I spend a lot of time alone and God and me have had some really good talks. Oh, back in the days of jam-packed calendars we had some talks too, but it was mostly me doing the talking. And if I'm being honest, my prayers were filled with lots of asking and not a lot of anything else. In hindsight I see that for the season it was. Prayers born more of necessity and immediate need than deep thought. I believe God knows this season and understands.

Enter mid-life. When it comes to talking to God I have all the time in the world. For the first time in my adult life I'm not in a hurry. I observe my children and the path they are walking and can take some time to really think about how to better pray for them. Life is no longer so busy that I can't step back and see the challenges my husband faces in his daily work life or to know his heart when it comes to family and his hopes and dreams for the future. Our parents, siblings, the needy, this nation called America...all the people put in my path in life, they're included regularly now in my conversations with God.

I'm surrounded by so much natural beauty and I finally have the clarity of mind to say thanks. To look back at my life and see how His hand has worked and to stand in awe of that and to acknowledge it too.

I know God hears our every prayer. He understands and answers those that are tossed up by the busy exhausted mom in the carpool line and the quiet contemplative prayers of the mom in mid life trying to figure out her new place in this world.

When your kids are mostly grown up (I realize I have an issue with saying all grown up, but I'm working on it)...anyway when your kids are almost all grown up its sometimes hard to find a way to be relevant. My daughters are independent and that's a good thing...a necessary thing. In fact, it was our goal all those many years ago, back before we understood what the full weight of that word might mean to us as their parents. I know my daughters need to make decisions, and even some mistakes in order to grow, just like I did when I was almost all grown up.

How thankful I am to know now, that in His grand design God didn't make it so we'd just snip a cord and set our children free. He lets us talk to Him when we want to talk to them. He lets us pour out all the worries and hopes a mother's heart can hold and He eases and soothes and gives direction.

Prayer is a way for me to positively impact my children without hindering their need to be independent. It means when I lie my head down on the pillow at night I can say today was not wasted.

Today I prayed.


  1. Thank you, Joyce, for this beautiful well "spoken" post! I know many of us can relate to what you said but very few of us could put it down into words so wonderfully well!

  2. Well, Molli said it right, "few of us could put it into words as well as you can and do." What a beautifully done post and I'm so with you on so much of what you said. I must have structure, I make lists and I am highly organized. I've always been and likely always will be.

    You really should have some of your writing published. You should even write a book. I'm sure it would be a "best seller." So glad our paths have crossed through blogging.

  3. Though I have definitely passed the "mid" point of life and have added thoughts and prayers for grandkids to those for my kids, I love what you said and how you said it. The seasons of life are interesting to ponder....the best I can hope to do is find the best of each one, which it sounds like you are doing.

  4. I know just how you feel. I get myself up at 5:30 every morning and get out to walk/run the dogs and various other dog things then it's coffee time. After that I search for things to fill those blank times. I've been doing the writing thing too but you're so right- when everything is done it is easy to waste a day. And I do find myself chatting with God a lot more lately. Which is much better than talking to myself. :) As always, a wonderful post!

  5. Well I sure hope I read this profound post again in a book one day!! What encouragement!!
    Thank you!

  6. Amen. I so wish we could sit over coffee and have a nice long talk about this. I am so very much in the exact place you are.
    (But I should really clarify that using the word "coffee" is just a metaphor. I don't like coffee.) :) (Just felt the need to say that.) :)

  7. I loved this post. I feel we are in transition right now with a hefty dose of growing pains. Really big sigh.
    I find prayer to be essential too.

  8. So very well said. Like Jeanie, I've moved beyond the mid-life stage, and I guess my daughter is all the way grown up (can hardly call her almost grown up since she's married and has a family all of her own). This stage of life brings different kinds of prayers, different responsibilities, but the same kind of challenges to fill the empty spaces.

  9. Nicely done Joyce. I would love to read some of your "other" writings....

  10. Joyce, "self imposed" is my very favorite kind of structure! But I too need a bit of structure. (I'm also an Anglophile.)

  11. Beautiful post. I love how productive you are. I need to set goals and accomplish things like you do. I get up, turn on my computer and sit here in my PJ's until early afternoon. Then I shower and I'm right back here. The things I haven't accomplished since blogging are calling my name. I am finding it hard to change this pattern but that is my goal. I love my relationship with God. We talk all the time. I was not this close with Him when my children were little. I do regret that but I do know that even though I wasn't talking with Him one on one, He was always at my side.

  12. Very moving post Joyce. I am realizing how much prayer helps too.

  13. I loved this! I'm in the same phase of life and I feel so many of the same things. God is my most common companion these days, kids are pretty much grown, the home still needs care and maintenance and cleaning. I love the homemaker term and think it has been much maligned over the years. Thank you for sharing all these wonderful reflections.