So this summer my kids turn 4 & 7.Â In a little more than a month Ben will begin two days each week at pre-school, and Hope will start second grade. Several people have asked me what I’ll do with myself once they are both away at school during the day (I actually think images of me sitting around watching soap operas and eating twinkies comes to their minds) and I try to smile politely.
School-ager Empty Nest? Are you kidding me? My kids never went to day care or baby-sitters so that I could work, but I wasn’t exactly a “stay at home” mom either. I was (and am) a “take them with me” mom. My kids have sat through countless meetings, presentations, lunches, work projects and Bible studies. When they were babies my whole work life was planned around nursing on a 3 hour schedule. Even now most things are scheduled with the knowledge that Ben needs a couple hours of napping sometime in the afternoon.
So the moral of that? Well, it sounds terrible but I’m just going to admit it: I’ve got things to do. Even more terrible: I’m looking forward to the kids being at school so that I can go to a meeting without them and their backpacks. I will miss having a kid home with me every day since I’ve had one with me at all times for 7 years. I love being a mom, and I try to put them first and not compromise where they are concerned. They may be my first ministry, but they are not my only. As believers and leaders and ministers we are responsible for so much more. I have responsibilities in our neighborhood and in our ministry that I can focus more fully on. I can finally volunteer at the school and be one of those parents. I pray that my increased focus will make me better at my job, at being a neighbor,Â at loving the youth and families with whom we work, and even better at being a mom. I’ve got a mighty God to serve with my whole life. I’ve got things to do, and soap operas and twinkies are not on the agenda.
And there’s one more thing: I’m not going to feel guilty about it. I’ve heard stories of women for generations who made raising their children their only identity. I admire their single minded devotion, but I think it can be an unhealthy mistake. It seems that when the kids (whom we have hopefully raised to be independent thinkers) leave home then Mom is lost. I pray that I nurture my children and give them everything they need without getting myself lost. I knew who I was before God gave me my Hope and my Ben, and I’ll know it when they are both in school, and I pray that I’ll know it when they go to college and have families of their own. And I pray that I’ll never have to apologize for not getting lost.