Do you ever look around and say to yourself, “Things have got to change”?
You’re fortunate if the change is a choice. Like when you decide to try something new or change jobs or read a different kind of book.
Sometimes the change is forced upon you. Relationships shift, kids grow up, serious illness visits your family.
Other times, change is what is called for in a season of life. I wanted to have a normal midlife crisis. But that was not to be. Like anything in my life has been particularly normal. Not.
I wanted to do typical midlife things, like dying my hair pink and taking art classes. My sister and I even talked about getting small tattoos – just little shamrocks on our sleeves in homage to younger, wilder days perhaps, playing and singing Irish music until the wee hours.
My midlife came late. That’s what happens when you adopt your last kid (the 4th) at age 42. When that kid finishes high school, you realize that life will forever be different. And you wonder what comes next.
I made a big change when I started my family. In a second marriage and nearing 30, I discovered I had fertility issues. It was concerning but not devastating. I have always been open to adoption. I prayed that the Lord would send me children, any way that he saw fit.
And the children came, along with miscarriages and misadventures in adoption. And later various short-termers who graced my home in the form of foster kids.
But there were the core four: the first adopted on very short notice, the second biological child born a mere 17 months later, then two more adopted internationally for good measure. In between were the babies I loved and rocked for interim infant care. They would be in our home temporarily until they went to their forever families. If I had started this adventure earlier, I would have had many, many more children as I wanted to keep every foster baby I had the opportunity to love.
There is a verse in the Bible that says, “He settles the barren woman in her home as a joyful mother of children” (Psalm 113:9)
That’s what happened to me.
I was an ambitious, selfish, arrogant, empty and seeking professional woman (an attorney) when my life took another path. If the Lord saw fit to bless me with children, I was going to dedicate myself to raising them.
And so I did. When I left practicing law, friends and colleagues said I was throwing away my education and I would go crazy being home with kids.
As for the education, life has briefly intersected with the law here and there (and may do so again in the future) and I have always made myself available to friends who needed legal help. I don’t regret law school, but the law was never my passion. It’s more of a rarely used tool I keep tucked in my life tool box. I don’t use it much and if I had to use it all the time I would hate it.
As for the “going crazy” premonition, it’s probably been accurate. Raising small souls is definitely a crazy-making season. The stress and the noise and the worry and the watchfulness can lead to difficult days.
Kids get older, and challenges ramp up too. Add in cancer, a murder in the family, aging and dying relatives, financial worries and your own health issues and life can seem pretty grim.
At my deepest point, I spend three weeks in an outpatient program at Meier Clinics. Everything that had blessed me so abundantly evolved into stress and depression that sought to destroy me.
It didn’t. It grew me and strengthened me. It expanded me and loosed me. It pained me and blessed me. I am forever grateful that I did not turn into a bitter old woman. Indeed, I feel younger that my years and expect I am on the verge of many great adventures to come.
So what is my new normal? I hardly know. I suspect I will have to grow into it.
One thing I know for sure. I will squeeze the joy out of each day and will find more occasions to laugh than not.
Resources that might bless you:
Carol Kent is a Christian author and speaker I admire. She wrote some books about her journey to find her new normal after her son was convicted of murder. Here are my favorites.
AARP (yes, I am a member) has a program called Disrupt Aging to discuss new ways of living and aging. Check them out at DISRUPT AGING
Dr. Bill Thomas is a physician and expert on aging. I am in the middle of his book and I am loving it. Check out Second Wind: Navigating the passage to a slower, deeper, and more connected life.
PS – Here are some other projects I’m working on. They are very much in the embryonic stage. Any feedback?