Friday, August 17, 2007

Empty Nest Syndrome

"I missed them, but of the two of us, I think it was worse for Allie. She may have been a painter, but she was first and foremost a mother, and once the kids were gone, it was like she wasn't exactly who she was anymore. At least for a while, anyway." The Wedding (Nicholas Sparks), p. 59

This week we took the last of our 4 children to boarding school. She is 12, in 8th grade, and has been more than ready to go for over a year. But, oh, it has been soooo hard letting her go. Every now and then I say (only half teasing), "Remember, Susanna, if you want to stay home, just say the word..." and I get the typical adolescent, "Mo-om!" in reply.

So now, all 4 of our children are in Senegal, DD#1 as an English teacher, and the other 3 as students (only DD#2 actually has her big sister for a class, DS will have her next year). They are absolutely thrilled to all be together, as you can imagine (altho they are not living together in one place).

I'm not handling this Empty Nest stuff very well. I've been struggling with this all summer, having bouts of depression and so on. It's not so much losing the kids; it's: what do I do with myself now? The work I did in the local church before I started home schooling is all being done by Malians now -- and that's GOOD, we are supposed to work ourselves out of a job! So now I have to find another niche for myself. It would be nice if there were an office or a school for me to go work in, but it doesn't work that way. There's plenty to be done, but you have to be somewhat of a self-starter -- and I am pretty weak in that area!

I've started making lists of things I can do. But I don't want this to be just 'busy work.' And I don't want to do things which a local person could do, thus depriving them of a job/ministry. I plan to spend more time traveling with Jim on his many bush trips, and he will be glad have to have me with him. I may also have to start studying the Fulani language. I don't expect to become fluent (after 9 years he is not), but people always appreciate that you make the effort and it builds bridges.

On the other hand, having left off the kids... maybe it IS about losing them!

1 comment:

Lauren M. said...

Who I am without my children "needing" me or wanting me to be their mother in the same ways I was for years is a question that I can only face in small increments now and then (especially since I worked really hard at being a good mother!) In my head, I am still the mother of 3 young children born within 4 years of each other. In reality, my baby is 18, and my students at school (and even the new teachers) think I'm old! It's much harder to be the parent of young adult children because I have so much less control. Truly letting go of them and letting them learn lessons and live their lives their way is HARD! I'm not crazy or even not needed or wanted; I'm traveling the path that women have traveled for centuries. It's like menopause--no matter how much you hear about it, nothing prepares you for it.