Because my own peers are mostly in the same boat as me, I come in contact with a lot of empty nesters. Lately I’ve been more aware of couples who have reclaimed their lives with selfish abandon as soon as their kids are grown. Granted, there are many perks to having an empty nest but to always prefer it over the opportunity to spend time with my kids is such a foreign and unfathomable concept to me. We will rearrange our plans and make ourselves available when they want our company. Why wouldn’t we? They’re independent, happy, well adjusted young adults who are fun and interesting to be around and let’s face it, at their age their lives are much busier than ours. There isn’t anyone that I’d rather spend time with than my own kids! I really, really like them.
The flipside to that coin is that we are still kids, too. At least to our parents we are, if we’re lucky enough to still have them with us. Being the parent of grown kids has made us more conscientious toward making an effort to spend time with our aging parents. Now we understand how treasured it is to have your kids around – no matter how young or old they are.
What makes a parent separate themselves from their grown kids? They may be grown, but they are still setting goals and working toward them, establishing life relationships, and making career decisions. Just because some magical number says they’re adults now, doesn’t mean they should have to do all of it without us. When they come around, it’s because they love us and they really do want us to be part of their lives, and they show us honor by showing up. We’ve modeled what we think is a decent example and then sent them to find their course but our part isn’t over and neither is the joy of doing it.
Parenthood continues – be present for it. Being a child of an aging parent continues – be present there, too. Enjoy being honored and always be honoring.
My house has a crack. Just over the doorframe, creeping to the ceiling. I see it every time I come down the stairs. I asked how this happened and the answer was, “collateral damage.”
Collateral damage is defined as damage to things that are incidental to the intended target. Nothing was slammed against that wall and we had no major earthquake. But something else, probably underneath, at the foundation had shifted, causing the crack above door.
Oftentimes I find myself being the collateral damage; a by-product of other people’s cracked foundations. When criticized, neglected or have been rude to, I have to remember that I am not their intended target. Something that is amiss in their foundation is creating damage all around them.
Like the crack in my wall, no amount of putty and paint is going to fix the source of the problem. Even though the collateral damage is well hidden, repairing the foundation is the only true fix.
Psalm 147:3 promises God can fix these broken parts. As He heals our hearts, He will show us that the cracks weren’t the source of the problem. By taking our eyes off the cracks and opening our hearts to God, the more God’s grace will repair our damaged foundation.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3
It always takes me aback when I see an invitation or announcement that lists Family Only. As important as family is – more important than anything actually – I cringe at the exclusivity when friends are not included. In my book, friends are a pretty big deal.
Think of the people in our lives and the role they play or position they hold in our hearts. Family comes first, without a doubt and without question. We don’t choose them but we love them entirely and completely. They rank most important. But absolutely everyone else in our lives (except friends) fall into all kinds of lesser ranking relationships such as co-workers, neighbors, classmates, teammates, or acquaintances.
Friends. We actually choose our friends. We decide we like someone and we get to know them very well. We build trust between us and them, and share some very special times of our lives together. They come only second to family. So if you’ve been chosen to be someone’s friend, understand that you are special and you hold a high place of honor in their life. There’s no such thing as being just friends. Being my friend is a pretty big deal.
Trying to tie my apron strings behind my back, blindly, with arms twisted and fingers working as nimbly as possible, I find that if I tie it very loosely it’s easier but that only works if the apron strings are really long. It stays in place without being too tight, and it keeps me safe from whatever mess I might get into.
While I was raising children, it’s a good thing my apron strings started out long because they got a regular trimming. As my children grew, I clipped my apron strings according to how far they’d have to stretch and how tightly a grip they needed to hang on to me. As they grew more independent, it became less of need for them to hold on to me, and more of a comfort for me to have them there at my heels. Eventually, I had to clip them so short that neither of us could benefit from the ribbons that kept us within an arms reach . Even though I still wear the apron, the string are barely long enough to tie; just enough to hold my printed, fabric armor in place. It’s the protection I wear when I’m facing the heat and sloppiness of creating something wonderful.
Simply navigating through life throws children into messy and sometimes heated situations. My hope is that my cut short apron strings that help keep my protecting armor on, will somehow protect them, too. And I hope they always know that the comfort of my apron and that it has just enough length of the strings left to tie my children to my heart forever.