My husband comes from a large family - he has 8 living siblings. When we are all together we total over 50. Yesterday we had some of his family - 35 in all - over for a barbecue in honour of his mom's 76th birthday. And though we are miles apart in how we live out our faith we can come together and have lots of laughter. I laughed more yesterday than I have in a long time. Laughter can be such a balm, a blessed relief.
On Saturday one of my brother-in-laws phoned to double check something about the get together. When I told him our oldest son had moved out that day he spoke from his heart and said, "Oh, that is sad." Exactly what I needed to hear - someone willing to validate how I felt. My own mother could not do it. I purposedly avoided talking to her on Saturday - our weekly phone date when we catch up on things - because she just wants to tell me for the nth time that this is the way life works. I want to tell her, "Don't you think I know that already?" When someone wants to gloss over how I feel, in order to be more comfortable themselves, I hear them telling me that it is wrong to own my feelings. I hear that they prefer me to pretend. It hints at crazy making. I can't do it anymore. So I was more than thankful that this brother-in-law could give voice to my feelings.
He and his wife are going through the same thing - we sat around the campfire for a while last night and wondered aloud if all these changes meant we were getting old? Was this really the way it worked? Could it be that one day we really will only cook for two? How can it be that the bulk of the parenting years are over? It's enough to make me want to run, scream and duck for cover. Kids really do grow up and fly away and make a life they can call their own. At this point, (don't tell my mom) I don't want to grasp that this truly is the way life works.
But I must and I will. Countless others have blazed the trail before me and survived. It is a new season. Opportunities and challenges await me.
Who knows, maybe one day I will even be able to laugh about it.