It’s back to school time. You’ve seen the pictures flooding the internet of kids on their first day of school for this year. For some parents, it’s seeing their kids start high school or middle school, for others, it’s the start of Kindergarten, and finally there are those who are sending their youngest to college and are now facing the empty nest. There’s a new normal happening in many households.
For my husband and I, well, we’ve been empty nesters for several years. Both kids are grown and married. We’ve been in this blissful phase of life, with the kids grown, but before grandchildren, and our own parents still healthy and active.
But as we all know, life can change on a dime and sometimes it’s an avalanche of change.
That avalanche has come roaring at us this year. And not with just one new phase of life, but with several phases bombarding us all at once. We’re entering a new season, and the quiet before these new storms are now past.
I’m mourning that quiet time before this change, but there are good things coming in this new season.
This is what I’m calling my “sandwich” year. I’m sure you’ve heard the term before – the sandwich generation. I don’t quite fit into that definition, but I’m feeling sandwiched enough.
In other words, this is the year where everything changed forever. My parents’ lives turned upside down with the advent of a couple of serious health issues. I spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to be with them, and will do so a few more times this year. For the first time, I see my parents as “older.” If you knew my folks, you know they have never been elderly or even come close to acting their ages. But unfortunately, I see that age now as one faces difficult health challenges and the other has gone into a caregiving role.
As I come to terms with the changes for my parents, we have the other end of the spectrum… and that’s the arrival of our first grandchild! It was so nice to have such joyous news in the midst of the trauma with my parents. As my husband and I anticipate this precious gift of a new baby, we know that nothing in our lives will be the same again. We’re very excited and while we remain empty nesters, we are already looking around our home, thinking about when the baby will be here, when we’ll play and entertain our grandchild…thinking about the “toy room.” (Okay, so we’re planning far ahead!)
This is definitely the year of change. My child and spouse will have a new normal in their lives as they become parents.
My parents have a new normal as they deal with health challenges and the long-term after effects.
As for my husband and I, these events in the lives of our children and parents have impacted us in numerous ways, that we too are finding our new normal. In the future, I know I will always reflect upon this year as our year of major change – some tough changes and joyous changes.
But I look forward to next year with such hope – the hope that comes from our new grandchild, and the hope that my parents will be healthy and strong from this point forward.
While I know I’ll have my sandwich moments yet to come, if we can balance that with a future and a hope (read Jeremiah 29:11), then we’ll make it through and continue to our next phase of life.