Yesterday Rick and I were visiting with one of the counselors in the bishopric in our ward and I found myself saying, “Ya, all that I’ve known for 21 years is coming to an end.” Then I paused and with deep reflection and almost like a smack in the face I said, “I guess it has all come to an end.” Wow!!! That was something I wasn’t prepared for.
Life has been soooooooooo busy over the last few weeks. Not only going to bed super late, but getting up early, cramming lots in during the day and my brain being on overload and literally just getting through the day and praying I made a dent, even a little dent, in the list of things to do. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve found myself saying to people, can that wait until June. This morning I woke up thinking about what things, who did I say can I get back with you in June. Trying to pull all of my thoughts together, get back into real life. Connecting with what’s really been happening.
You know that I’m so busy, task oriented, survival, being in the moment feeling where you aren’t feeling too many emotions, but just getting through each day? Ya, I’m really confident that’s where I’ve been. I thought I would be much more emotional as we got to the end of the school year, but I honestly don’t think my brain and body even had time to process all that was happening.
Things have come to an end. . .such a weird thought. Such a surreal feeling. This felt like eternity away when I started volunteering in the schools. Tanner was only a few days old when I went back into the classroom to volunteer. How did all four of my boys grow up? How did all of them graduate from elementary, junior high and high school? How have two of my boys gotten married and grown up, living on their own, jobs, married? Then one that is 20 and living in Provo? And now Tanner, he’s working on his mission papers and graduated.
No more working around his school schedule for things. No more talking about high school grades. No more being a part of the PTA at the local schools. No more calling in and excusing absences / tardies. No more weekly emails with school grades and assignments below a certain percentage. No more emails from teachers. No more getting up at 6:30 - 7:00 a.m. to get Tanner off to school, or any of my boys.
Things are changing. . .in a way I’m feeling like it’s a form of retirement. What I’ve known for 21 years has ended. It’s not that it’s coming or soon will be, but it is. The school days are over. It’s a new chapter in my life.
I’ve had so many ask me what that new chapter is going to look like in my life. I’ve been asked that probably over 100 times over the last month. I’ve joked many times that the new chapter is selling our home, buying a motorhome and Rick and I traveling. We both work remote so it could work. Of course, that’s been a joke. I want to be where my kids are.
For awhile, with my old wiring, I was struggling feeling like I was being fired. That I was going to be forgotten. That I didn’t do all I could have. That friendships would come to an end. That I was a very lost soul and that I didn’t really have any identity or purpose without my kids being in school and me volunteering in the school. That was as recent as the beginning of May. I felt lost and like a failure. I didn’t know what I would do. All hope was feeling lost. How in the world could this day be coming? You know thinking, it’s this day of Tanner graduating and then it all ends and all is over and I would wake up the next day and feel hopeless, lost and filled with so much sadness. It was all placed on this one day and then I would have to rebuild or crumble. What would this one day bring?
For YEARS the last day of school was a day of super sadness for me. A chapter was over, but I treated it like the book was ending. I’d go over to the school, say lots of goodbyes, take pictures, give gifts, write notes of thank you, hold up until the bell rang and then with sunglasses on I would cry. I’d get in my car and drive home and meet the kids at home and that day was filled with sadness. Teachers that we loved were gone. Friendships, classes, the memories of the year OVER! All of my purpose in life was over for a few months and would never be the same. I wouldn’t open my blinds on the last day of school. Our home was dark. I’d sit and cry. My kids had mixed feelings about the day. I look back at the years and years of this day and think wow, what a day of mourning.
Over the last few years with counseling and changing my perspective things have felt much different. Of course, still a level of sadness with that school year coming to an end and things still to do, but not as final. There were still ways to contact those I needed to contact. Things weren’t permanent. The sun was shining and there was still life to look forward to.
This year, as I’ve been turning things over to other people and hearing the words that this is the last of this or that for me at first I felt so sad. I felt lost. I didn’t know what the answer would be to what’s next. At times I felt angry. Why does this time of life have to come so fast? Why did my baby have to grow up and graduate? Why did I put so much of my identity into volunteering and into my children? Who am I? Now what?
Then as I worked through things in counseling and started really focusing on the moments and the blessings in my life and what each day holds for me and those I love, the end of the school year came very differently than I thought. Focusing on my home for family to come and stay with us. Dejunking. Decluttering. Gaining control of my home. Being present and working through the end of the school year with Tanner. Enjoying baseball. Having a little 4 year old running around my home for a full week saying Grandma over and over. Him holding my hand, saying prayers, giving me hugs and kisses, hearing his laughter, seeing his sadness and comforting him, his gratitude - his love. When a storm comes in and is breaking frames and tipping things over for Tanner’s graduation party seeing so many of my family jump into action and within 10 minutes having things re setup and ready to go in my mom’s home. Enjoying a couple of days in Bear Lake. Full of games and laughter. Having my 20 year old surprise me in Logan that he’s joining us for the weekend. Seeing my son’s happiness in his marriage - both of them. Playing wiffle ball with friends, who are family in my eyes until there is no more light. Tanner changing his mind last minute and going to Lagoon with his Senior Class and having a great time. Going to graduation and smiling ear to ear seeing Tanner excited to graduate and looking forward to his next things in life. Saying hi to friends in passing and reaching out to friends with different messages. Going to the temple open house and feeling such a peaceful spirit. Seeing miracles happen right before my eyes. Getting a new calling that scares me to death, but knowing it was right to accept, because during the Sacrament I heard the words so clearly, “Trust Me.”
The tears didn’t come the way I thought they would. Things didn’t come to a screeching halt the day school was over. I didn’t pull my blinds closed and create darkness and cry and do nothing. I didn’t have a vision of perfection of how things had to go in order for me to be happy. I didn’t have expectations of people and how they each had to do things in order for me to be happy. I cherished each minute that I had with whoever was there at each of the things we enjoyed along the way to graduation, after graduation, the next day after graduation and continue to have that happiness. In fact, the tears didn’t really come. There was laughter. Peace. Happiness. A level of success and wins for me as I recognize my growth and changes. The new me as all of those closest to me refer to. The new me that connects, enjoys the moment, no guilt or shame, can laugh in ways I didn’t know were possible, relax and play games, enjoy a slow walk with a 4 year old grandson, a good visit and not doing things on my computer at the same time, just have a good visit. I’m a person that can now pause and answer questions and bring calm to others and validation instead of creating stress and pushing for more.
And you know what, I know what I’m doing next. . .I’m getting up each day, working my job, volunteering in the community, starting with a new church calling, keeping a few of my school assignments, working on my home, my health and relationships - the most important. I’m going to get up each day and continue to work on myself. I’m going to continue to battle the demons that are inside of me, that I fear, that are hiding in that dark closet that I’ve not let out for years and continue to heal, feel light and happiness, grow in the gospel and grow most importantly in relationships and memories. I’m going to try new things. Do things the Lord has prompted me to do for a long time. I’ll continue drawing - a new thing I’ve been doing for about 8 months. I’ll continue to write. I’ll discover new things to try. Things aren’t going to be perfect. In fact, there will be days I crash and burn. Days that I become destructive. Days that I just can’t press on. Days of sadness. But really, they don’t have to be days, they can be moments, minutes, hours, whatever those moments will be, but what I do know is that I’ve got fight in me, a happy fight, to continue to grow and progress and things don’t have to come to an end, just changing.
A wife and mother of 4 boys and 2 daughter-in-law, I have spent my entire adult life devoted to my family. I have been busy in their schools, supporting them in all of their school work, sporting events, activities, etc. I spent years heavily involved in the PTA, church callings, etc Life for me has always been overwhelmingly busy. While I thought this was my sanity, the truth is it masked issues - real issues - that I needed to work on to gain true sanity. I am sharing my story in this blog. I do this so that I might be able to help other women find their true sanity