As I walked into my home after dropping my third and last daughter off at college, the still silence of my home hit me and sadness overwhelmed my heart. My baby was gone. All my babies were gone. This is “the empty nest” that people talk about. For someone who wanted to be a mom since she was a little girl, now what? I couldn’t wait for Monday to come so I could fill my grief with the busyness of work. I reminded myself that I had a granddaughter on the way and she would be here in a couple of months. I fantasized about all the things I would do as a GiGi, from painting her nails to baking cookies. I comforted myself with these thoughts as the waves of sadness would come and go.
About a week later, I started to get used to the quietness and I was really loving how my house was staying clean. I started to notice that my home was so peaceful. A month later, as I had just settled into my new normal, my middle daughter texted to tell us she was moving back home. So much for the empty nest! I mourned again, but now for my clean house!
NOT RETIRED, REPURPOSED
I ran into someone a few months ago who recently retired and when I asked him how retirement was going, he replied, “I have not retired, I have been repurposed.” I really loved his statement and it is one I have pondered over. As a mom, you never retire, but as your children get older and become adults your way of mothering definitely changes. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines the word repurpose as, “to give a new purpose or use to.” As I think about how my purpose as a mother and as a nurturer has evolved over the last few years, I am learning that I may not be nursing a baby, running after a toddler, or chauffeuring teenagers around, but God is showing me a new way to mother and nurture others in this different season.
GOD HAS REPURPOSED HOW I RELATE TO MY ADULT DAUGHTERS
One of my daughters is married and has a child of her own and my other two girls are involved in school, work, and finding their way in the world. Mothers naturally want to mother, or should I say “give their wisdom,” and so I am learning when to speak and when to hold my tongue. If I am honest, I don’t always do that perfectly. For example, as all of the rules of how to feed, clothe, and care for your baby have changed over the last 20 years, I have found myself joking to my daughter, “it is amazing that you all survived!” I don’t think she finds my joke funny as she lovingly tells me all the new research that has been done. I am discovering how to best support my daughter as I watch her learning to be a mother, which is one of the most magnificent gifts I have been given. For my other daughters, who are in their late teens and early twenties, I am learning to listen a lot and pray even more. My prayer is that God will lead them and guide them on the path He has for them. Their dad and I continue to point the way when we have the opportunity, but ultimately, God is in charge of their hearts. I am learning to trust that all that we have taught them are seeds that have been planted, watered, and are now sprouting. We believe we will see beautiful growth in their lives, as they turn into the women God created them to be.
GOD HAS REPURPOSED ME AS A GRANDMOTHER
As I shifted into this new role as GiGi almost 6 months ago, God brought to mind 2 Timothy 1:5 which records Lois. Lois is described as a woman of “sincere faith,” and she passed that faith to her daughter Eunice, and to her grandson Timothy, who became Paul’s partner on the mission field. I am inspired by Lois to be an example of faith to my grandchildren and pour into them my love of Jesus and a love of His precious words in the Bible. I want to be a joyful light in this world to my grandchildren. To have parents and grandparents that love the Lord with their whole heart and model it, is a legacy I want to leave that will hopefully affect future generations in our family.
GOD HAS REPURPOSED ME IN THE BODY OF CHRIST
It is my ongoing prayer that I would be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. As I was settling into a semi-empty nest, God nudged me to get back into children’s ministry. I started as a volunteer and quickly found myself working full time as the Family and Special Needs Inclusion Coordinator at Liquid Mountainside. Even though I don’t have little ones in my home, I believe I am not done caring for and nurturing children. God began to pour His love into my heart and gave me a desire to serve the children and families He was bringing to our church. It is my new calling and joy in this season of life.
As life changes and as my roles evolve, I am learning to hold onto Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” My new prayer is, “Lord repurpose me, for your purposes,” as I know He is not finished with this momma yet.
For more reflections on motherhood, read these articles from some Liquid moms: