Monday, July 24, 2017

Gathered Advice: Part 2

As I said in my earlier post, "That Awkward Stage", I'm finding myself in a new stage of life these days. This year my husband turned 40; next year our oldest will be sixteen and the youngest will go off to kindergarten. I've found myself looking back wistfully at the years with my hands full of little people. Life was so simple when you could smooth away all the problems with a rocking chair and a kiss (never mind the mind-numbing lack of sleep in those days and trying to decipher the crying of a fussy baby...) What I've realized, as I shove back the nostalgia and determine to enjoy the present, is that my sadness might be mostly the reality of what being mother to a sixteen year old and my youngest going to school next year makes me. Not old, exactly, but a whole lot old-er than it feels like I should be.

Mid-life crisis is defined as an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age. It is suddenly taking stock of your life and realizing that it may well be half over; what have I accomplished and where am I going from here?

I have found myself asking these questions and facing this reality. My question, then, was how do I do this gracefully? Today I'm sharing with you some excellent advice from ladies who have travelled this road before me.


"There are two things about change:

#1. They will happen throughout your entire life..
#2. God will always be with us.

I have somewhat of the personality to plunge forward into change with an upward plea, "God, you're gonna have to help me".

I believe He will simply because He always has."

{I can't tell you how much I love this simple piece of advice. Facts are the mooring needed in the middle of change and questions. What better truth to ground me than this?}

"I will jot down some thoughts that come to me, not in any certain order like how important, or anything...and maybe this is not even the kind of thing you were asking for...but here goes:

1. Journaling was/is a lifesaver for me. In problem-solving, not only does it help me to understand what I’m dealing with, but it helps me to organize my options and come to conclusions better. In my spiritual journey, it helps me to process with greater clarity what I am going through at the time and then later helps to strengthen my faith when I can read back over previous victories and evidences of God’s faithfulness. 

2. The daily habit of gratitude has transformed my life, since I started it about six years ago. I try to write down three things a day that I’m grateful for – things I noticed that were outstanding, or ordinary things that I tend to take for granted if I’m not intentional, or difficult things that I am not grateful for at the moment but wish to be soon. This practice has changed my whole outlook on life. In the transition to mom-of-adults, in the changes of our family life, in navigating the onset of menopause...I have been overwhelmed at the steady, faithful, giving nature of God. Sometimes I feel so rich I can hardly stand it.

3. What you said about identity is noteworthy – “How did they gracefully adapt to the change of identity that comes with all this change of who I am?” I would say that the more I learn who I am in Christ, the easier it is to adapt gracefully. If I have my identity and worth so bound up in mothering my children, or in how much I am able to accomplish in physical work, or in my knowledge/intelligence, when my children leave home, or I just can’t work like I used to without getting aches and pains, or I start forgetting things and having mind lapses, I will be devastated. I will feel like I am losing who I am and I won’t know how to cope. The sooner I can learn to live out of the concept of Whose I am rather than who I am, the better.

4. I think it’s a good idea to be informed about what you’re going through. (That’s why I think yours is such a good idea to learn from other women.) If I were to make a list of notes to my younger self, I would include things like “Read up on perimenopause (yes, self, there is such a thing, and it can come before you know it!) and get acquainted with its symptoms”, “Ask that older mom at church what meaningful things she would recommend doing with adult children in the months leading up to their leaving home for the first time (or for good)” and “If you can, discuss your questions about scary topics with a trusted friend because you may be surprised and comforted to know that she snapped at her grown son – over basically nothing – the other day and she lies awake for an hour or two at night even when she didn’t drink any coffee and she sometimes feels despairingly dry toward her husband in bed.”

5. Get yourself a good, understanding husband and a couple of close fun and funny friends to see you through this time in your life. You’re gonna need ‘em."


I'm not even sure how to express my appreciation for these ladies who shared from their heart. It was exactly what I was looking for and blessed me deeply; thank you!

Next up I have a guest post I'm looking forward to sharing with you....

p.s. Now, who wants to talk to me about perimenopause.................?


Anonymous said...

The part about perimenopause made me laugh... Almost 2 years ago I did some heavy research on it. I was convinced that's what was going on with me. I had hot flashes, dizzy spells,fatigue and my emotions we're every where. I was wrong about that though. It turns out baby #6 was on the way! Now at nearly 40 I'm having a blast with my little guy! We had a 8 year gap before he came along though so I certainly know how you feel! I went many years without a diaper bag but hear I am all over again:)

Bethany Eicher said...

Love it 😁 I'll try to keep my heart open to all the possibilities! 😉

Jane said...

Having reached the fabulous forties,i read with interest. My only thought on this subject is this: we wont be a sweet old lady if we haven't been a sweet young lady.

Bethany Eicher said...

Amen to that!

Deep8 said...

This is fascinating! I am nearly in the exact same spot as you. The waters I navigate are strange and a little terrifying and I really don't want to shipwreck. I have been interviewing older women at church, mining for advice. I was surprised at how well they remembered this stage, so it must be a biggie. Thanks for sharing your research! I was blessed, and not the least is the comfort of knowing there are a lot of us out there. ��

Bethany Eicher said...

There definitely is something about knowing we have company in this that helps!