Thursday, December 31, 2015

Raise Them Up: 2016 Brings A New Phase

Life seldom warns you when one phase ends and another begins.  More often than not, you wake up one day and realize that things are not as they were.  The rules have changed, and so has your role in your family. 
Others can see it quite easily as they see changes in your children.  But the changes are not so obvious to a mother.  We are too busy packing lunches, picking up socks and going about all the things a mom does.  Until one day we look up, literally, to see grown children.
I started blogging when my boys were all young.  This picture was taken that year, in 2008.  There were countless stories to share about our daily life, then.  I would sit down with a cup of coffee while they played in the other room, and share all of the funny stories with you.  We would laugh together and comment on each other's lives, give advice where we could, and prayers when there were no words.  The blogging community was such a blessing to me.  God used so many of you as you encouraged me each day.  As a stay-at-home mom, I looked forward to that time I set aside to share and catch up!
Only fellow bloggers can understand how real blogger friendships become.  I would talk about one or another of you in this state or that, and my boys would chuckle and shake their heads saying that for a minute, they thought I knew you.  In real life.  As though it were different somehow. 
But it wasn't.  Not for me.  You all were very real.  And still are.  I don't know how many times I think about you and wonder how things are going in your busy lives.  Is your life as crazy as mine?  Are you in a different phase as well?  Are you still blogging?  Are your children changing as much as mine are??
* * *
My family is entering a whole new phase.  This picture was taken a few weeks ago on a visit to Longwood Gardens while we were out East to pick up my mom.
My oldest graduates this year.  He played soccer in the fall, is a swimmer now, and will run track in the spring.  He has a part-time job, plans for college, and a girlfriend who is truly beautiful both inside and out.  He has changed so much!  I barely see him these days.
My middle son has grown up, too.  He is a junior in high school and working very hard to put himself in a position to play soccer in college.  He just got his driver's permit and is looking for a job in order to save up for a car. But he still makes me giggle.
My little guy is now in the fifth grade, and not so little anymore.  He still loves soccer.  But this year, he has added basketball to his life and is loving it!  He no longer needs me in the same tangible ways that all three needed me back when I started blogging.  He has left his shy little box behind like a locust leaves it's shell.  I LOVE seeing his little personality blossom!  And I'm going to treasure the time I have left before he, too, moves completely into a new phase.
My mom, as I said, is staying with us for a few months.  It has been several years since Dad went home to be with the Lord.  And she is taking things one day at a time.  We've been having a Downton Abby marathon since Christmas, trying to watch all 5 seasons again before the last (sniff, sniff) season begins.  It's so nice to have her here!  :)
My husband is still working hard at the same job.  His responsibilities have grown, along with the hours he puts in each day.  Finding time together is something we need to be intentional about if it is to happen.
Knowing so much has changed, makes me sad and nostalgic sometimes.  However, I do enjoy the new relationship I have with my nearly grown sons. There are lots of things to balance.  And landmines to navigate, for sure.  But it's such a blessing to remain their sounding board and prayer warrior.  I will always cheer them on, even when sports are left behind. 
* * *
My older boys aren't the only ones entering a new phase of life.  After 18 years at home raising my boys, I am reentering the classroom!  Boy! So much in education has changed!  But the children are still the same.  And teaching still makes me happy! 
I started substitute teaching in our district this fall, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity has fallen into my lap.  I will be taking my little guy's 5th grade class for 7 weeks during his teacher's maternity leave starting in February.   I'm am so excited!  I'm also worried about whether I'll be able to step so quickly back into full swing.  Substituting is one thing.  Long-term substituting is quite another. 
The only thing that keeps me steady is the fact that I've watched God work throughout the last few months, opening doors, and rekindling my love for teaching.  Will it be a lot of work?  Absolutely.  But my mom has promised to help me grade papers.  :)  And my husband has promised to help share the taxi service we provide for our boys and all of their activities. 
Will my youngest be embarrassed to have his mom teach the class?  Probably, lol!  But this is a gift that I think both of us will remember and treasure for the rest of our lives.
Where will blogging fit into this new phase?  I have no idea!  But I'd like to figure it out, and I hope you'll join me.  Maybe I'll even be blessed with new friends as I begin this new phase of my life. 
Happy New Year, friends! 
May we each trust God
with the plans He has for us
in 2016!


Mari said...

I love the photos and what they show about your life. You're right - it changes gradually and then suddenly everything has changed. I totally understand what you said about blogging friends. I talk the same way and my hubby seems to get it.
Congrats on the job! You're going to be busy, but I know you'll be a blessing to those kids and they will be a blessing to you!

Christina said...

*Waves enthusiastically* HIIIIIII! It's been too long! I miss you! I'm not blogging anymore. :( I AM on Instagram as the.ladylyn if you want to connect there. We got to visit Longwood gardens with my husbands brother and family last spring! SO beautiful! I love seeing an update about your fellows. Mine are all getting big too. Remember those tiny babies? My oldest is in second grade and playing basketball, and my "baby" is an extremely busy three-year-old.