It is hard for me to believe a year ago my home in Missouri had boxes stacked in every nook and crany. Every bedroom had a stack of boxes in the closets and along the walls just waiting to be loaded up and taken to their new home. Box tape, black Sharpies and scissors were always on hand as well as a pile of empty moving boxes in every corner ready to be filled.
A year ago I was anxiously waiting for my missionary to return from Brazil. I could hardly wait to see the boy I sent away who had grown into a man over the past two years. I wondered how his language would be, if he would be exhausted or homesick for Brazil. He surprised us all. After close to 24 hours of flying he took off like a caged animal and ran through the old neighborhood with his brother until well past midnight without so much as a nap. He hit the ground running and never looked back.
A year ago I was preparing another soon to be missionary for his service in Cape Verde. Planning a temple trip with him, buying mission clothes, having long talks and already missing him. I remember well the night we all huddled in his bedroom as he packed his belongings into boxes. Tossing old T-shirts at willing younger sibling who were more than happy to snap them up, clinging onto old memories. Soccer cleats, soccer socks, soccer uniforms, shin gurards, a few books, all packed away for another day as he prepared to leave his "life" behind, ready to begin a new one.
A year ago my leg was still swollen and painful from an unexpectedly traumatizing dog bite. All of the stress and anxiety of the past 6 months came pouring out as I cried my way home after being bitten. Kenzie was such a little hero, staying calm and giving me a hug, driving me home after being all stitched up. I still can't believe the emotional toll was so much greater than the physical toll was. Despite having stitches and steri-strips for close to three months before it completly healed, my mind sure was shaken after that crazy night. Yep, I'm still afraid of big dogs and everytime I see a German Shephard I am still amazed at how big and powerful they are. And, how blessed I was it was more of a nip than what could have happened.
A year ago Brandon went to Scout Camp and in a week he will attend camp again, this time in a different state with different boys in a different troop that have quickly become good friends. He did not believe me a year ago when I told him he would find friends and be happy in California. He has sailed through the past year with flying colors. Playing on the flag football team, basketball team, making new friends, passing Pre-AP classes with stellar grades, Deacon's Quorum President. I'd say he is doing phenomenal.
A year ago Baylie stood in our front room with her "besties" and cried like only teenage girls can do when faced with overwhelming sadness. It broke my heart right in two. That was a tough one. A few nights later I basked in the peaceful chatter and quiet giggles coming from my two daughters sitting at the top of the stairs enjoying one another's company. I can still see them sitting in the darkness with only the light from an empty bedroom showing their big smiles. It was a sweet salve for my soul and I felt the peace and reassurance that only family can bring when faced with major life changes.
We have been in California for just about a year now and I have to admit, it has been a slow transition for me. While the kids jumped into school and James was well into his new practice, I spent a lot of time on the road to Utah and back. Ten times in ten months to be exact. That is a lot of driving. A lot of disruption. A lot of time split between what is now two halves of my family. With three kids in Utah and two in California, it is hard to keep my heart stretched that thin.
Life has finally slowed down. Jeremy has settled very well into college life. Mikenzie has too after her brief stint here for a few months. Alex is the veteran Utahn after having lived there almost four years now. Kyle has been on his mission for almost a year. He is still kicking and screaming but serving the best he knows how.
And now I find myself a little off kilter as I am not quite an empty nester yet but no longer have the demands of a full family pulling at me. I am lost at church. A truly odd feeling for me. I miss my old friends who knew my family well. I miss having a friendly smile when I walk into the chapel. Quietly chatting over benches as the prelude music is playing in the background. So many missionary mommas to compare letters home with. So many parents of teenagers to share stories with. So many familiar smiles to greet. Demanding callings and assignments that drove me crazy at times and fulfilled me everytime. I miss all of it.
The house is quiet now. My life is quiet. For the first time in my life I have no real direction. Before marriage, it was all about planning for marriage and getting married. And then it quickly became all about starting a family. For the past 23 years I have had goals and plans and dates to remember. Soccer games, orchestra and band concerts, summer camps to earn money for, pack for, prepare for, recover from. School supplies to purchase. Sack lunches, school fees, parent teacher conferences, forgotten homework, piano lessons, Youth nights... all settled down now. Not so many demands anymore...
Where do I go from here?? And how do I ever get over missing my kiddos? Missing their day to day lives that no longer revolve around me running in circles for them. Just a quick text here and there from those kids who consumed my entire life just a few short years ago. A phone call if it is serious enough, like where to buy stamps and frustration in sharing a car with a sibling.
I lost myself in them and for them. Some women may balk at the idea of loosing yourself for your children. No regrets here. All I ever wanted to be was a Mom. I have been so blessed to be one. But now, I am a semi-retired Momma. Time for me to stretch and grow. Time for a new direction in my life. It is hard to imagine the next 40 years to be as fulfilling as the last 40 or so but I know they will be. I just haven't had time to picture it yet. But I know with my family and The Lord on our side, it will be awesome!!