The start of the school year is usually when ‘the normal’ kicks in. The routine is back, there’s a pattern to the school year, I know what to expect. This year I’m still waiting and I suspect ‘the normal’ is never going to be the same again.
First we had the mad dash to get second-born, and first daughter to college with very short notice. No sooner than we’d got the crazy part of that done, my parents were visiting from the UK for three weeks. This was planned and very welcome, of course. It made it special to have family over for Thanksgiving, and my Mum celebrated her birthday while they were with us too. I got to make her a cake.
No sooner had they left – a day later – my firstborn proposed to his girlfriend. I now have an engaged and soon-to-be-married son, and a very sweet, and already much-loved, soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
Yes, this is VERY BIG news. I feel the need to take a breath and pause for a moment. (I’m going to be a mother-in-law! How is that even possible?)
The next day we attended an open house at our local university with our third-born and second daughter. She was accepted for her degree course to start next September, though at a campus in another city.
To summarize, by next September we will have not one, but three empty bedrooms in our house (though I suspect two of them will be returned to at the weekends still). In the coming year there will be a graduation from middle school, a graduation from high school, a wedding, one child starting high school, one child heading into college for a second year and one child starting university. We have to get through this school year first of course. It’s pretty full on.
I may soon burst into song with Abba’s ‘Slipping through my fingers’.
While all the events of the last few weeks were happening, the autumn colours have turned and are more amazing this year than they ever have been since we’ve lived in Canada. It’s a little bit cheesy to talk about changing seasons, but never before have I been so conscious of it happening around me and noticing change every single day. It has seemed to reflect the speed at which things are changing in the life of our family as well.
I’ve learned through my experience as a mother that when you get used to one stage with the kids, just as you get into a routine and get to grips with it, everything changes again and you’re on a learning curve once more. This year there will be a lot of that.
In all that change and disruption it’s possible to get bogged down, but really there is so much life and joy to be had. Hanging on and trying to keep things as they always have been is futile at best, controlling at worst. I look with joy at the way God is working in each of my children’s lives and leading them to the next thing, and pray that they will know that He is the one thing that never changes, and that, in all the challenges, they can trust Him.
Of course, I will always be here for them too while I have breath in my lungs, I’ll be a parent for a long time to come I hope, the role just changes a bit as they go and spread their wings.
Family. I think God’s normal for family life is that it expands and includes more. For a time when the kids were tiny my focus was all on them, and just getting through each day. It can still be like that now at times if I’m honest, but there’s more to give.
He, ‘sets the lonely in families’ (Psalm 68:6), so we’ll never be short of people to love…and I think things will never be entirely normal. Good thing.