Family

Time in the Laundry Room

“As the part of you carrying sadness develops trust in God, made known through the loving attention of your Spirit-led self, this lost sheep wandering in your soul will settle into the arms of the Good Shepherd.” Boundaries for Your Soul by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller

It’s been a full four weeks since we said goodbye to our youngest daughter in a dorm parking lot.

Two states away from us.

Our house feels a little haunted now. It’s like someone is there but slightly out of earshot. We hear sounds. Bumps, notes of music, even gravel from tires outside. Our ears aren’t the only thing that need readjusting.

Everything feels a little wonky and disorienting.

But you know, since walking into an empty nest we’ve been busy. We hit the work week midstream and haven’t slowed down at all.

Must. Keep. Going.

Busy.  There is an engineering quality about it, deftly damming off a reservoir of feelings. Appointments, longer work hours, errands, coffee dates, house projects, phone calls/emails/texts/bills, church commitments. An urgent pencil claims the page and legitimately erases all the blank margins.

Yes, being busy has felt good since returning from the final launch. Not having to look this new season square in the eye yet has been OK by us.

Netflix anyone? It also keeps the haunted feeling chased away.

But time and wide open margins are absolutely critical to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually process big transitions. And apparently this is a big one.

We get it.

(What is another descriptive term for empty nest? I’m getting tired of this one. Slightly annoyed even.)

Gratefully though, the past few days have felt like a slow down.  Instead of a temporary TV fix, Todd chose to brush hog pastures and I chose obsessive cleaning.

I cleaned out drawers and cabinets and filled one trash bag after another while Todd mowed row after row. Each in our space and ways, contemplating the old and new.

There is so much physical debris that remains after raising a family.

Crutches forgotten in the corner of a closet.
Layers of used spiral notebooks, folders and binders.
Paints, ribbons, scraps of this and that shoved into a cabinet I’d organized dozens of time to no avail.
Two Family Camp collages, 6 half empty bottles of expired sunscreen, so many leftover party decorations.

A story for every found artifact. Who knew the laundry room could also be a holy altar of remembrance?

Having some time at home alone has broken the dam. Time to fill trash bags and sweep a few corners has meant time to remember the beauty. To hold up random physical objects that bear witness to the most important job I’ll ever hold. To put a period at the end of a long and specific season.

Time to slowly pivot into the goodness of all that lies ahead.

I am left on the Sabbath with a fullness over the mystery of this life. So enduring and eternal, so brief and fleeting.

I am left on this restful afternoon with a few new questions that will require courage and some more time to answer.

Who am I now?
Who are we now?
What is to come now? How do we wholeheartedly prepare?

I know it will be a process, this shift from one major life season to another. We won’t get all the answers at once. We’ll have to fight for intentionality, just like in the season behind us.

And so. When boiled all down, the musings, the tears, the chuckles, the stares out the window….I am left with the deepest ache of gratitude for the past and a rich and unexpected joy over what is ahead.

(Sometimes a song shows up at just the right time. For us it is With You by Elevation. Sums it all up!)

14 thoughts on “Time in the Laundry Room

  1. So much profound wisdom in the words you found to express this season, all while in the place you have probably spent what seems like a lifetime ( the laundry room)!!! So many times I wondered if I would ever get caught up with the endless pile of laundry! I’m in another season now and I am here to bear witness that as long as there is life, there is laundry! Soak up The memories and open the door to the precious and exciting adventure which lies ahead!

  2. You are still you, but a you with more freedom now.
    You are still a mother, but your attention is no longer required 24/7.
    Time now to breathe deeply, sigh gently, and let the future unfold.

  3. After the youngest of three departed for college, we struggled to find our balance as a couple for at least a year. A reawakening of how we became one, before we became 3, 4, & 5. Give yourselves time and plenty of elbow room to rediscover eachother and your own individuality. It’s a challenging time! But make no mistake, those ‘little’ ones still need you desperately. It’s just harder to help, guide, and support now that they’re on their own. New problems arise in their twenties and they do not want to acknowledge their need for you, in fact, will fight you all the while. Parenting never really stops. Being married truly deepens and grows. Blessings on your journey!

  4. New normals are so hard. I don’t even like the word “new.” It makes me think of shiny, bright, something to look forward to opening, never loss, never hurt, never missing someone and having an ache…so yeah. Different normals. They’re hard. It feels weird trying to move forward with the rest of the world. Nothing has changed for them. I’m thankful for the faithfulness of God’s love in those crazy, weird spaces we find our hearts in. Our souls turn a little pensive, our spirit groans a little more, and God presses just a little heavier so that we can still feel him. Thank you for sharing. I love your writing style. May God bring moments of NEW joy, the shiny kind of joy, NEW connections with your daughter and NEW connections with Todd and the brightest, shiniest joy ever, in the NEW places that Jesus is finding in your heart through all of this.

  5. I love you sister! I can’t imagine what it feels like. But I do get the change in seasons of life. My heart has been thinking of you these past few weeks wondering how it must feel. Delight in the stillness as the next beautiful journey unfolds.

  6. Tears forming behind my eyes as I remember our struggles, mostly mine. I don’t think Bob really noticed then. He does now. I remember. I too, say, ” You’re parenting days are not over.”: the connections remain and grow stronger, I know Maria once said, “mom, I’ll always need you.” and often now she calls me Momma and she will soon be 51.They’ll always be your treasures. It’s gonna b gr8, just you wait and c!

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