Sunday, 21 September 2014

All Change

We spent yesterday driving down the motorway to deliver our daughter (and a huge pile of stuff) to her new accommodation as she starts life at university. Very stressful and rather teary ... she was upset too ;)

Meanwhile our son, who graduated in July, looks like he has a job and will be leaving home in a couple of weeks. Likely another stressful, teary occasion, along a different motorway.

Then it will be just the two of us, at least during term time. However will we cope, after 22 years of living as parents, first and foremost?

It has to be said that an awful lot of other parents have been through this before us, and somehow survived. It's even labelled a 'syndrome', so it must be serious - and there's loads of advice all over the internet. The Independent has a good article here which ends with some sensible 'coping strategies'.

The site where I got the rather super picture above (just click on the picture to go there) begins with a good description of Empty Nest Syndrome, although by some sleight of hand it ends up plugging a book called Crowded Nest Syndrome. On the way it makes the point that often "the anticipation of children leaving home is more frightening than when they actually do leave". I think for us this rings a bell. And it brings back memories of earlier, similarly scary transitions, like their first day at school, which worked out okay in the end.

At heart I think the issue is about coping with change, especially at a time of life when it seems everything is changing too fast. Except that this always seems to be the way with change: nothing much seems to happen for ages, then suddenly loads of changes pile up on you at once. Leaving home ourselves, getting married, having children - they're all typically at busy times in our lives, they're all times when everything changes, and they are all times when a positive approach really helps.

Take getting married: back in the day a wife used to be known as a 'ball and chain', and my in-laws-to-be were horrified at the idea of their daughter getting married before she had the chance to 'see the world'. Actually, seeing the world together as a couple was a lot more fun. It's a matter of appreciating and enjoying the positives and opportunities that the life change brings.

Similarly with having children. It cut down on 'seeing the world' - so much extra stress and hassle in long distance travel with young children - but there are so many opportunities to do new things and enjoy new experiences together as a family.

And now we are back to being a couple again - but a middle-aged couple this time, with grown up children experiencing their own adventures. I don't know what new opportunities this will bring, but I'm sure they will be there; we just need to be alert and open, ready to enjoy them.

The past is a wonderful (hopefully) part of the way things are, and the future is a great unknown, but the present is an amazing gift, always full of unexpected things, ready for us to wonder at, to learn from and, especially, to enjoy.

Wherever you are, whatever changes you are going through, may God give you the great gift of enjoying your present, for all it is worth.

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