“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
There’s this weird dichotomy in my life right now. My kids are grown-ish, 28, 24, and 20. So they need me less, but my mom and dad, who are 86-87, need me more. We are empty-nesters, technically, but my parents live on the same property as us by choice so that we can help them as needed. They say when you’re raising kids that the days are long but the years are short, and while that is definitely true, it’s also true when you’re helping “raise” your parents in their elderly years.
I often say that my particular set of old people are like toddlers with money and driver’s licenses. Y’all, I feel this in my bones! They are fiercely independent, yet many times physically unable to complete the chosen task. Their reasoning skills and reflexes are slowing. Is it scary? Oh my gosh, yes. It’s scary and humbling to watch your parents grow old before your very eyes. My world-traveler parents now have many, many days where they don’t leave their house. Church, which was always a constant, now becomes more vital than ever as it serves not only for worship and spiritual connection but also for some much-needed socialization (that after-church lunch with friends is the highlight of the week!). You can see the changes coming, you see them fighting those changes with all their might, but to no avail. Their world is shrinking and that’s a hard pill to swallow for all involved.
And then there are my kiddos. Y’all, watching your kids grow up to be who they are meant to be is the MOST REWARDING thing I’ve ever experienced. They’ve found their “people” – the ones they lean on, who they go to when the going gets tough. They have friends, loved ones, extended families and church families to help guide them along the way. So they need me less. Don’t get me wrong, they still need Brad and I. We still have lots of conversations, some of them tough, many others hopeful for the future. They seek us when they navigate the world, but we are not their only source now, and to be honest, I love that.
So here’s where the dichotomy lies. My children’s worlds are opening up, expanding as they explore new freedoms and adventures. My parent’s world is growing smaller seemingly by the minute. Brad and I are somewhere in the middle of all of this. Yet what I notice is a common thread running through it all – peace.
Peace as my newlyweds work as one to craft their shared vision of their life together.
Peace as my middle finds his “person” and genuinely smiles at all the future holds.
Peace as my youngest discovers her inner strength and footing all on her own.
Peace as my parents look back on a life well-lived and well-loved.
Peace as my husband and I navigate this new phase in our lives.
In all ways.
Do we have struggles? Sure. Do we have hard times? Absolutely, just like everyone else. I find myself close to tears many times throughout my daily tasks. Happy tears because I’m so dang proud of my family and who they are, but also sad, nostalgic tears because my parents’ world is quickly shrinking. But I’ve noticed this “calm” throughout them that I often wasn’t sure I’d ever experience. If you know me then you know that I can be somewhat of a control freak, so when things don’t go the way I think they should go I tend to struggle a bit (okay, maybe a lot). But, even when days are hard and there are happy/sad tears and sometimes rude awakenings, there is calm. It took me a long time to get here, but I realize now that the peace I feel is faith. Faith that things will work out EXACTLY as they are meant to, because God is in control. He’s got this, I just need to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
“When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.” – Bob Kauffman & Sovereign Grace
Indeed, it is well with my soul.