I’d love to introduce you to my #livefree friend, Laura Polk. She’s a newly single mom, a strong woman of faith, and when she speaks her words have a beautiful southern accent.
Today she’s sharing what it’s like when you’ve identified yourself as a mom and wife, and suddenly those roles are changing. I think you’ll love this honest look at the question, “Who am I when my kids grow up?”
Who Will I Be After the Kids Leave Home?
Where’s the pause button?
Being a mom is a crazy mix of joy and confusion, sacrifice and commitment. A task that seems overwhelming at times, and yet creeps by at others. A role that can be so consuming, we can’t focus past the next packed lunch.
There’s never been a job more in need of a pause button.
When my children were just babies, the number eighteen became my nemesis. I realized early on that I was only given eighteen years. That’s all I would have with them in my home, growing together as a family and living under one roof.
And then? Their own lives would begin.
There’s never been a better reason for a pause button.
As they grew into tweens and teens, and adolescent issues began to surface, I’d look back at pictures of them when they were younger and realize that it was all moving too quickly. My babies were making their own decisions, driving cars, and working part-time jobs. Time was moving so fast that I didn’t even have time to put the pictures in albums anymore.
And I desperately wanted to hit a pause button.
Now, my oldest is talking about college, and what she will do with her life, and where she will live. And, while I should be thrilled with the young woman she has grown into, and proud of the person I will soon launch into this world . . .
I feel myself clamoring for a pause button.
But, whether I choose to face it or not, my children are growing toward the people I prayed they would become. They have listened to the encouragement of those who love them, learned from mistakes made within the safety of our home, and cried along with me as things didn’t turn out as we’d hoped. They are well on their way to stepping out in their own lives.
And it’s in that realization over recent months that I’ve begun to understand something like I’d never been able to understand it before: While there is no such thing as a pause button in real life, I’d managed to create a serious pause in my personal life.
In all this single parent madness, I’d forgotten the girl I once was. I had to struggle to remember the things I used to like to do for fun. The things that energized me. The things that gave me peace.
Somewhere along the line, I’d paused who I was as a person.
And the further I travel down this parenting road, the more I realize that I can’t afford to do that. Because when the day comes when the last one of my babies launches, I don’t want the image I’ve always had of clinging to their legs to become a reality. Really, I don’t.
I want to be a strong example of a godly woman that has raised her children well, exposed them to the faith, and then let go of their hand so that God can take it and move them into their own callings.
I want to be a woman with her own plans to go forward, her own dreams to pursue in the next phase of her life, and her own gifts to explore and grow in.
I want to be a woman who is excited for what is ahead, and ready to go in the next direction God leads.
And I pray the same for you.
Living free from the need to pause where we are in life for fear that what is next will somehow pale in comparison. Our roles as mothers never end. But, as our children begin to go out and make their way, God is giving us a gift: Freedom to play again.
Freedom to enjoy the things we once loved. Freedom to explore the things we’ve put on hold for our children’s sake. Freedom to grow into the next phase of what He’s calling us toward.
Freedom to hit the play button instead of pause.
What do you say? Who’s ready to play?
Find our more about Laura Polk. You’re going to love her!
Laura, your words speak truth to my life! Taking my son and daughter to college produced some of the most difficult times for me in my life! Who was I if they weren’t there for me to take care of? Add on that I was also an Elementary School Teacher so nurturing is all I’d known. I’m now in the midst of my second year of retirement and I hate to admit it, but I’m quite lost. I am working on finding that girl who loved to draw, act, and write poetry and I know she’s there. I just need to become reacquainted with her again. Your words are so important for younger moms! Be dreamers now! You’ll be happier and more satisfied with life as you move forward and the funny thing is, your kids will be too! Thank you for a great post!
Thanks, Cindy. So happy to hear that you’re working towards finding that girl again! I pray you hit a creative spurt that brings it all back, bigger than ever before. <3
Thanks Laura! For your words of encouragement, your ‘permission’ it seems to find a piece of time to focus on me. I have put everything I am into caring for my children since the divorce, essentially pressing the pause button on my own life. People ask me what I like to do for fun, and I honestly have no answer. It’s fine for me to find my answer and its time for me to find my answer! Thanks again, Laura!! 🙂 <3
Pam, I had the exact thing happen to me! Several people over a series of a couple of weeks asked me what I liked to do for fun, and I stood there stunned! What? Mom’s are supposed to have fun? Lol. Go looking for that answer, sweet friend. You deserve it!
I love this, Laura! My oldest is fourteen, and just yesterday I had a panicked moment when someone made mention of her “leaving in four years”….. I have a similar vision of clinging to their legs! Thank you for the reminder that I, too, “… want to be a woman who is excited for what is ahead, and ready to go in the next direction God leads.” Love you and your transparent, beautiful heart!
Thank you, Crystal! Once you embrace it, you’ll start looking forward to what is ahead. Hopefully, neither of us will make the clinging-leg-syndrome a reality, lol. 🙂
Laura, you have such a way with words. Thank you for sharing. Our son graduated last year and decided to take a gap year. We are enjoying our extra time with him (well not extra, he had skipped a year of school so just thankful to get that year back!) He wrote a song that talks about “pausing time” This topic is one that most relate to and it is “hard to move on” at times. So thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning and as we cling to him, he will carry us through. After reading your post, I realize why that song resonates with so many. Blessings
Thanks, Tina! Maybe that should be my theme song! 🙂
My husband and I were surprised by the empty nest syndrome a few years ago, when our youngest went off to college. We had no idea that, as you said, we had put our lives on hold and let them revolve around our children and their activities. To top it all off, we had to move for my husband’s job transfer during our son’s second year in college, so we left our friends, my job, and our children’s friends a few weeks after our newlywed daughter moved out of state. Wow! Lots of togetherness with no “distractions” left us working desperately to remember what we used to enjoy doing together before we had children. It was a difficult time that we did not anticipate, but God brought us through it closer to Him and each other. It’s wonderful you’re not waiting until the last child leaves home to realize your need to embrace God’s plan for the new phase of your life! I’m saying a prayer for you this morning.
Thank you, Cheryl! So glad to hear you guys have begun to live a little for yourselves again. I’m making my plans now, but hoping along the way that God will send someone to share them with when the empty next arrives. 🙂
Amen, Laura. That next half of life has been a joy. Going back to school, starting a counseling practice, feeling free to come and go without a lot of arrangements.
And the best part? Those 2 little girls who called me mommy are now dear dear friends. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thanks for these encouraging words …
So great to hear, Linda! I’m starting to really look forward to those times. 🙂
Thanks for this post, Laura. My kids are 15, 12, and 6 and the older I get, them more I realize it is okay to focus on some things that I enjoy as well. As much as I will miss them when our nest is empty and as much as I enjoy the title mom, I don’t need to forget that there are other things I enjoy also. 🙂
My kids are about the same age, Dana. It’s kind of exciting to be able to get back to our old selves, right? :0)
Laura, I love this! I love the idea of being excited to hit the play button instead of longing for a magic pause button. This is so timely for me. Saturday we visited my 18 year old man child at college, had a magical day, and when it was time to say goodbye, I told my daughter, “Oh, I think I’m getting used to saying goodbye to Andres. It’s not so hard today.” Right after that, my eyes TEARED UP! So much for easy!
But I’m holding on to God’s wisdom: “There is a time for everything.” And so I’m excited about my future. Writing is something I’m doing for me. Thanks for blessing me with your words today!
Betsy, I love that you’re writing and finding yourself through this changing time in your life! <3
I am a newly single mom with two kids one of which will going off in about 5 years to new adventures and its going to be hard. But I also know when my youngest leaves it will be even harder to figure out who I am. I have always been someone’s mom and I will always be, but in a different way.
The good news, Leslie, is that gives you a pretty good window of time to start reminding yourself of who you are, who you were, and what you love to do! As they get older and allow time for it, it’s a good time to start thinking ahead while still enjoying the time we have with them in our homes. <3
After our two sons left home my Mother moved in to live with us for about five years then we had to place her in a Nursing Home. We have now had our empty nest for about two years and it is wonderful. We remember now kind of how is was before we started growing as a family. Meals at home are quiet and nice. We are very comfortable with each other. Hold hands and kiss even more. After 38 years of marriage we still have what we started out with, each other to depend and take care of. I wish everyone’s marriage could be so awesome. God has truly blessed us over and over again.
Dianna, what a testimony! Thank you for sharing. I hope to be in that boat one day. <3