Monday, 20 January 2014

Letting Go - DAY 7+

Dear Journal,

Some years ago - I used to teach Human Development, of which the cycle of a  human being was taught. There I learnt words such as launching, re-launching, and empty nesting. At that time my sons were about 3-4 years old and this launching (children leaving home) and empty nest syndrome (parents at home with no children) seemed so far away. I remember, even back then dreading the day my precious babies would leave me! If only I knew then what I know now.

Letting the boys go has been one of the hardest things I have had to do - the reality, and the finality has been overwhelming, and almost unbearable. For me, letting go has been saying goodbye to my role as a full-time mother. I know that with them going they are now in the Lord's hands, but as they return they will no longer be my baby boys, instead, two grown men, almost-peers. So saying goodbye to them reminds me of this upcoming new stage in my life.

Coupled with these feelings is my reality that the boys are everything I have in this life - and now they are gone, in their place is this great big empty nest. I don't have young children to fill in the silences with their arguing, fighting, laughter and tears. I don't have grandchildren with their giggles and dirty nappies. All I have is this house, and a husband that walks around equally as stunned as I am - the penny finally dropping - we are all alone!!

They haven't been gone for long and it feels like years have dragged by!!

I know I am going to get through this - because I know so many other capable mothers of missionarys that  are not only alive and breathing - they are thriving members of their communities, working hard, and not crying ALL of the time!!

But for now - I am taking one day at a time. Sunday was a terrible day, but today is going okay so far ;-) Here are some tips I found online to help empty nesters recover. I'm going to try them - one day soon...

1) Although it doesn't say this online - the first one for me is living and really implementing Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding, In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.." and another one from  Richard G. Edgley "Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.." Online - they call this step "Shift Aside the Terrifying Thoughts".

2) Accept Support
I really haven't wanted to see anyone except my brother and sister and their families - them, I can't get enough of.... and have been hiding in my little sanctuary. But my closest friends have burrowed their way in, bringing me flowers, coming for dessert, texting and emailing or just popping in.  The suggestion that suits me best is this: "Acknowledge your grief. It doesn't matter what other people think or say about getting on with it. Unacknowledged grief will gnaw away at you if you don't face it and let yourself be upset for a time. Allow the grief to work through your system." And with that I take one day at a time, trying hard not to hear the people who are thinking "What's her problem?" "Why doesn't she just snap out of it?" "She's lucky - I can't wait until all of my kids are gone"!! This is how I feel - and I'm working through it the best way I know how.

3) Start looking at your own needs
This made me smile: "Avoid creating a shrine out of your child's bedroom. If they didn't clean it up before they left, throw some of your emotions into removing all that trash! Eliminate some of the clutter, but carefully place your child's keepsakes in safe storage." It's easy enough to do this, but for Mr and I we cleaned the rooms out and they look nothing like they used to and that works for me! The suggestion I like the best is : "Go back to school or university. Select a course that you feel resonates with you at this point in life. Work out whether this is a completely new path you're setting out on, or whether it's to upgrade your existing qualifications. Either way is good." This year, Mr and I are either going to take up Ballroom Dancing or learn Spanish.... or who knows - we might do both ;-)

4) Rediscover the Love of your Life
The only trouble with this one is that I already do this often - and honestly I would not have been able to get through this last little period without Mr. He has been so kind and gentle to me. I asked him early on - to never ever roll his eyes when I am pleading my heart out, and not to put a limit on my grief which he has kept to so far.... luckily he had some practice when my mother died - now that was a WHOLE 'nother story... Wikihow's suggestion: "Allow time for your relationship to blossom anew. This can be an exciting time of rejuvenation for both of you." We are looking forward to taking some weekends away and looking forward to touring the South Island of NZ for Christmas!

5) Focus on some of the positive points of your kids leaving
What is so funny is that I have an Aunty who is going through this season as well, after raising 6 awesome children - she has found herself a widow and an empty nester - and she is doing great!! She is my example of the 'after-life' of children and makes me excited about the possibilities. The biggest change so far as been the toilet paper - I don't know what my boys used to do - but that 18 pack of toilet paper is lasting longer than it used to! Our grocery bill has plummeted, as has the laundry and the need to clean. I am yet to tackle the toilet - but will get on to that - and Mr assures me we can keep it clean now the boys are gone! But between you and me - I am sure he will still miss the bowl!! Some kid's habits never die even when they are adults;-)

All the best with your letting go of your missionary. May you do it better than me - with dignity, courage, and gusto...



  1. I was thinking about you and Morris the other day knowing that your fear will be our reality soon. Our oldest girl Sterling left the nest just about 3 years now, this wasnt to bad as she was not far from us and attending Uni. Soon our son Epere will be gone on his mission and the following year our youngest will be off to Otago Uni. It has been interesting watching many of our family and friends farewell their children on missions and that trickle has now turned into aflood that will soon engulf our home. I know practically that we have to trust the Lord but I still hear you sister when you say its easy said than done. So as for me and my wife we will enjoy the time we have with our children and look with faith to our childrens growth into adulthood. Love Vernon & Denise Ruwhiu xox

  2. Yip - lap up every minute with your babies - it really is over before you know it ;-) xx

  3. I've decided to make a conscious & concerted effort to NOT forget ME in the process of raising our children. I understand how easy it is to get caught up in the fray of being a Mother - but as you so clearly encapsulate, that season is temporary and will eventually finish in the practical sense. I am doing my utmost best to give my kids the tools to survive life with a hope for things to come, an imagination to dream big, a wisdom to accept good & bad, a heart to forgive & love quickly and a testimony that heavenly father has a bigger & greater way.

    Thank you for your honesty Maraea, I pray Heavenly Father lifts your heart & chin and gently guides you back to the arms of your husband where u can play, dream and remember that you still have a VERY big life to live before all those mokopuna start rolling in - then it starts all over again. Apparently "the best part of being a parent" says my Mum :) YAYYYURRR!!!!

    Stay Amazing and Beautifully Soulful xoxo