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Is Life Too Easy?

I’m pedaling my stationary bike again this morning. And reading the Ensign. The two go hand in hand. Something about the two together makes me contemplate eternity and all things pertaining to it.

I’m an empty-nester now and something happens when you no longer have children at home to live your life as an example for. It’s a twenty-something feeling a second time around. At twenty one looks into their bag of values, that they’ve been collecting since birth, and decides how they will live. What path they will follow. You do that again when the kids leave. I’ve watched and seen many empty-nesters have at least a temporary ‘inactive’ period in the church. Some permanent.

When the kids have grown, it feels kind of like you’ve crossed the finished line of a major race and you are(believe me) just glad to still be standing. And you’re mulling around, exchanging slaps on the back with fellow finishers, when suddenly it hits you, “What now?”.

When the kids were young, church was a challenge, just to get there on time with four pair of (matching)shoes on four pair of feet. To make it through Sacrament without a major disturbance, or any hurt feelings, and leave the chapel without leaving part of you behind. It was such an accomplishment! And we made it there every Sunday or nearly so, illnesses excepted.

Now church is—tooo easy. No one bothers me while I try to get ready. I take my time deciding on an outfit that doesn’t make me look fat. I have time(and money finally) to buy myself matching shoes for my dress. I even get to put on two coats of mascara. Three if I want. I hear every word spoken in Sacrament, Sunday School and Relief Society. And I find myself wondering if I can stand this for fifty more years!

If it sounds like I’m whining because I have to cross the prairie on a plane, taking four hours, instead of a covered wagon, taking three months(or however long that was). I guess I am.

When I first got married and life was bliss, I remember deciding to study the scriptures with real zeal to make sure my testimony was strong enough to withstand trials that I knew would come. And come they did. And I withstood them. But how do I gain a testimony to buck you up during monotony and ease?

Of course, I know the answer. I need to find service to give, a mom who needs help, a challenge I can overcome. But somehow it was easier when it was harder. When the challenges were immediate and demanding. Now, I don’t have to face the agenda, I have to make it.

I know many of you only dream of this day, but it’s coming. And you will spend more of your life with your children gone, than you will with them there. Let me say that again, you will spend more of your life with your children gone than you will with them there. Are you living your life as an example for them? Who will you live for when they are gone? You can of course wait until later to decide. I’ve made most of my best decisions before hand though. Dating, temple marriage, word of wisdom, etc. I just didn’t see this one coming.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Michelle D December 23, 2009, 9:51 am

    Wow, this is thought-provoking, Daisy.

    Even as a caregiver for the elderly and having thought about the legacy I want to leave for my family and others, I hadn’t considered this exact situation – the effect of an empty-nest on ME and my testimony. For whom am I living? It should be more than just my kids, because you are right – they are going to leave home and I will live more of my life without them than with them. (Yikes!) Thanks for getting me thinking and planning more specifically for the future!

  • kiar December 23, 2009, 5:47 pm

    Wow. Being the mom of 4 littles, and going to church in the fuzzy, hazey, crazy way right now, I have to say I kinda look forward being able to sit and listen. But I must admit, I can see how it would be hard. I love the moments, when my littlest climbs on my lap and hugs me, asking when the “bread and watta are comin?” Or how the older 3 love to sit by me, so I can tickle thier back while they color.
    I think I am coasting right now, because everyone excuses the young mothers, we don’t have to focus as hard, because of the kids. I see a need to prepare for the future, so that when that time does arrive, I will be able to find my testimony under the burp rags and diapers.
    Thank you daisy.

  • facethemusic December 24, 2009, 6:02 am

    What an incredible post Daisy!! –Really gets you thinking!!! I both loved and hated this one thought-provoking statement

    you will spend more of your life with your children gone, than you will with them there.

    Loved it because it IS so thought provoking and hated it, because I never really thought about it THAT way, and I really don’t want to think about it!!!
    My husband and I were just discussing this a few days ago. Since we just moved a couple weeks ago, my 15 year old son spent the last two weeks temporarily living with a friend to finish the semester at the school he was attending about 30 minutes south where we used to live. I picked him up from school on Fridays, brought him home, then took him back on Sunday evenings. It was a strange feeling to have him gone- I kept finding myself starting to say “Where’s James?” whenever the kids were all sitting in front of the TV, or eating breakfast at the table and he wasn’t there. But before I even finished saying it, I’d catch myself thinking “Oh yeah, he’s at Ben’s”. My husband and I had quite a talk, discussing the coming day in about 3 1/2 years when he’ll be off on a mission and probably out of the nest for good. And the others will quickly follow. I admit that I’m not ready for that. I totally need to adjust my thinking- and keep the thought at the front of my mind that at their current ages, I’m not just “raising children” as much as I’m “preparing young adults”.
    I think your point about us personally/spiritually as mothers/parents AFTER the kids are gone is a crucial one. I can see how many might feel lost when much of their spirituality was based in teaching the kids/being an example for the kids/helping to strengthen their kids’ testimonies — and once the kids are gone maybe losing their spiritual drive. I can see how in the midst of trying to raise children rooted, strong and steadfast in the gospel, a parent might lose sight of their PERSONAL growth and relationship with the Savior. It’s alot to think about!

  • daisy December 24, 2009, 1:20 pm

    I really didn’t mean to get so deep at Christmas time–In fact I started to write about something else entirely and this just came out. Merry Christmas and don’t worry, it will only seeem like it went by in the blink of an eye. In reality, you have, 365 days a years, with 24 hours in every day. ENjoy!

  • Alison Moore Smith December 26, 2009, 2:07 pm

    Darcee, you are amazing and thoughtful. I’m so glad you shared this with us. My favorite line of all was this:

    I hear every word spoken in Sacrament, Sunday School and Relief Society. And I find myself wondering if I can stand this for fifty more years!

    Bless your heart for your honesty!

    I’ll be a mom for 34 years before my youngest is an adult. (And who know when he’ll be out of the house.) So, I’d have to live to be over 90 to be an empty-nester longer than a full-nester. Still, there are hopefully a lot of productive years left.

    I think you hit the answer squarely in that you need find service to do. In addition, I think we need to remember that we are doing what we are doing for our Heavenly Father, not for our kids. Maybe the discipleship focus will help us in both phases?

    Bless you, Darcee. I just love this insight. I sincerely think we need more grandmotherly wisdom!

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