One of my adult kids called the other day to catch up on some new things going on in our house. It was a light hearted, fun conversation and then my eyes filled with water when I heard, Mom, I know this is inconsistent, because my life is changing constantly as I am doing what I need to be doing, but I really wish everything at home could just stay the same. I want to come home and everything and everyone just be like it was.
When I was single, living with a best-growing-up-friend in Dallas, I would come home from work and rearrange all the furniture just for fun. She hated it. She felt like her world had mixed up while she had been away. I loved it! Everything felt new and fresh. The new furniture arrangement gave me energy and generated fresh thoughts about other aspects of life as a bonus.
I love to drive different routes to the same places, go through the grocery store from the opposite starting point, sit in a different place in church instead of the same pew every week. I feel like I thrive on that "mixed up" feeling.
In many respects, for me, change is always associated with adventure. I've just always embraced it. Philosophically and practically. Part of that is my theological foundation. I believe in the sovereignty of God, the providence of God, and if He moves me or the things around me, it's with intent and purpose. I trust Him and look for the good. And in my experience, change, even painful change, has brought good in the end in some tangible way.
And yet, as a mother, I have wanted to provide stability, normalcy, continuity for my children. I want to be the person that will always be there. I want to have the kitchen that's always open, the couch that's always ready for a heart to heart. So it was deeply gratifying to hear that my child - my grown up, independent, fully capable and competent beyond my expectations adult offspring - still looked to that normalcy as comforting. That created my initial warm fuzzy teary emotional response, but what followed has been scary ~ I know I can't promise that!
There are the practical things. We now live in a state that is not Virginia or Texas. Never thought that would happen. We live in a rental house with all thrifted or free furniture. It's cute and actually very homey, but all the family furniture that has the dings and marks of eight children not to mention all the books and treasures collected from years of travel and adventure, and all those thousands and millions of memories are in boxes 900 miles away. My identity might not be in those material possessions, but those possessions sure reflect a lot of our history, where we have been, and even what we believe. And they sure hold memories. One of my children has never seen this rental house and one has only visited it once. They certainly can't call this place "home" for them. Does that displace them? It sure makes me feel funny.
In addition, our house runs very differently from when all eight kids lived at home. My youngest is 11 and has the maturity and capability of a teenager at least, having grown up with mostly adults. The music is different. The conversation is different. With a house of mostly adults, the family routine is different. I finally had to put up the dreaded schedule in the kitchen where everyone can write down where they will be and when so we can all see it.
This isn't just change for change sake. I'm not rearranging the furniture after work. This change is growth and the angst I feel is growing pains.
When change is growth, it's good. I would get excited when my kids had growing pains because I knew they would be taller, stronger, more capable, within a matter of weeks or months. And I don't know anybody who doesn't get energized when they see new buds on a tree in spring or bulbs busting out of the ground. Growth in nature excites everyone. Of course, there is nothing about a new bloom that causes discomfort or uneasiness to us, though, either. But change in people can. We like our people to stay the same. It can make us nervous when that friend loses all that weight. Is it because we haven't been able to lose what we wanted? Or because she looks "too good" now? Or because we are afraid we might not have all those fabulous dinners together anymore? We might criticize the new theological direction or the new job with more responsibilities, not because there is any danger in either, but because it changes the status quo, makes us question ourselves and our decisions, and just rocks the boat.
But if it's growth, shouldn't we just recognize the good and move forward?
For me, the only catch is the memories. I have always told our kids that it's not hard for Doug and me to see them grow up, move out, realize their dreams. It's what we want! And when they catch the water in my eye when I look at old photos, it's not that I don't like the way things are, it's that I just can't get the little version of them back again. I want us all to move into the future, but I just don't want to lose the past. So, I'm having to preserve the memories in different ways. I don't have the old furniture and the dinged walls and the memorabilia to help me.
But if I can do that, if I can keep those alive for all of us, then we will have the continuity we all want. And we can still all grow. And change. And it will be enough "like it was."