Not Quite Empty Nest …

… Or is university good for parents?

I’ve got two children. My eldest went off working on outdoor activity camps and travelling about 4-5 years ago. We get confused as to when it happened because he just sort of applied and went. Apart from occasional coming back for a month or two, or to get some stuff out of storage, or very occasionally to borrow money, we really only see him when he comes for a holiday with us, a week at the most. He has left home. My youngest has gone to university which means she went with lots of preparation, a bit of a fanfare, a set date for going, a car full of stuff, keeps running out of money as her course is quite demanding and she struggles to find work that fits around it, and then she comes home for 4 months over the summer. She has not left home yet. But she is in her early twenties, two years older than when her brother left home.

So what I get though is that come mid Sept she flies off and we don’t really see her till Christmas. We get use to empty house, struggle a bit to begin with but use to it and like it after a while. Then she comes back for 2 weeks at Christmas. This is because her friends do the same. So all the time there is this ebb and flow of her not being part of our lives and then her being very much part of our lives. She’s also the child who likes to be downstairs not shut in her room. I think that’s why we never noticed her brother go, because he had been ensconced in his room for months beforehand only appearing to be fed.

But what this does, this ebb and flow, this empty nest but not quite, is that we, her and I, can forget that she is a young adult and can behave/get treated like a child.

We had an incident recently where I treated her like a child and actually she behaved like one. We were both out of order but it came about because we aren’t sure where the boundaries lie. I’m sure all us who’ve left home know that when we get back to our parent’s we behave like children again. I often laugh at my husband and the child-like voice he puts on when he’s on the phone to his mum. I’m sure I do similar. But most of us have our own homes. In fact the only time my son and I really fell out recently was when he was in between homes and not sure what he was going to do with his life. Thankfully it didn’t last long, but both of us reverted to teenage years; him as stroppy teenager, me as bossy parent.

So how do we deal with this? And it could be worse. I know of friend’s children who have come home after university to re-nest. Even though the parents complain I can see the old patterns emerging, and know that when those children finally fly the nest that the pangs of empty nest will not be any easier, even when there is that sigh of relief too.

So is this constant ebb and flow and lack of money good for anyone? Yes we may have a lot more people with more qualifications but at what cost? At the cost of maturity? At the cost of emotional strength? To think of Nelson commanding men at 15, William Pitt in parliament at a similar age, and other great leaders of over a hundred years ago, who were able to leave home and cleave to their destiny. I’m not saying my son is more sorted on his destiny than my daughter but I am saying that her coming and going, flying but not quite, causes emotional stress for both of us.

Homosexual Issues

Couldn’t find one with two women

I have been noticing something regarding issues that people have where it goes to court regarding homosexual issues; it is more often than not involving two men. At times there are issues with two lesbian women but that is often to do with the patriarchy of the child that one of them gave birth to. I wonder if as a society there are more issues with two men having a relationship together than two women. There are many pornographic films which involve two women having sex together targeted at a heterosexual audience, but if there are ones with two men then they are not targeted at a heterosexual audience.

A woman is waiting for a man to lead her

Queen Victoria was asked to sign a bill making homosexuality illegal she was more than happy to do this for male/male relationships but not for female/female relationships and has been cited as informing her minsters that they were being silly to even suggest that a woman would not want a man in her life. I wonder if society, deep down, still feels that way – seeing male/male relationships as wrong and unnatural but seeing female/female relationships as just a phase that they will grow out of. Homosexual men need to be sorted out, dealt with, kept away from society, but women are to be loved till they “get over it.” Mind you I know a lot of Christian thought that sees homosexuality as “unnatural” and have places where men can go to be “healed” of their unnatural tendencies. – NB I do not think like that and I cannot believe God thinks that way either.

Not so long ago in certain part sof US it was illegal for blacks and whites to marry

I am not saying that to even things up we need to see as many headlines about female/female relationships that rock the status quo but I do wonder if society is still in the place of thinking male/male relationships are abhorrent and female/female ones are just a phase. Mind you I do wonder if even in our so-called liberal society we still have ideas of what is normal and what isn’t – even down to the age difference between couples, the age they should marry, what is too much, too little, who should be older/younger, what sex they should be, how many partners they should have, etc. It is crazy.

Our society is lying to itself that it is liberal. Only when it can look at all loving relationships equally, I think, can we truly say we are liberal, but also only then can we say we truly know and love God. See I don’t think God is bothered what one’s sexual orientation is but is concerned about how loving and kind and supportive we are to each other – whether we agree with their way of life or not!

Everything Needs Two Sides

On Wednesday we watch Inside Out, the new Pixar movie. I will try not to give too much away, though my movie blogs should always come with a spoiler-alert. Anyway suffice to say that one cannot be happy all the time, and all the memories we have come with a healthy mix of happiness and sadness, and this in fact leads us to become much rounder people. If we all tried to be happy all the time then we would miss out on so much. Interestingly this revelation was followed by a family relationship meltdown; lots of shouting, misunderstanding, mistakes made, and a need for some space. I look back on many days, many memories and it is very rare that they are just happy. There is generally a mix of sadness, anxiety, misunderstanding, as well as happiness.

This isn’t my field because I don’t take my phone dog walking as I don’t want to be contacted but it looks a bit that colour, though no mountains in the background 🙂

Out walking the dog the other day I was amazed that one of our favourite fields was glowing golden; an amazing mix of oranges, reds and golds with the highlighting it. It turned out that the farmer had covered it in some form of weed killer and was going to plough it in and change the whole look of the field. A mix of wonder but also trauma and change.

There are so many incidents when we really think about them that are a mishmash of things, and yet we spend good money trying to be happy as much as possible. And what happens? Well people are disappointed, feel let down and actually are sadder for it. If one could be content in all circumstances then that would be so much better. I could use my anxiety to try to change things, my misunderstandings into working out where I go wrong and to make me a deeper rounder person. Again that is an interesting one because so often we think we should get better, but actually as I grow I want to become deeper not better. I am ok as I am but I can become more of what I am. Yes I want to be able to understand my family to a deeper extent, but as someone said to me today I need to learn what my boundaries are too to be willing to let them have theirs. That means I am deeper and rounder but not better.

As a Christian I know God loves me as I am but that doesn’t mean I want to stay as I am, or even that God wants me to stay as I am. I love my children as they are, but I also want to support and help them mature, and want to see other people in their lives supporting and helping them. I not sure if God is like this but I know as a parent what I really would love is for my children to have other people in their lives supporting and helping them to grow because then they would become deeper and rounder. If they only have me then they will actually be very much like me. Though I suppose with God He is much rounder and deeper than I’ll ever be, which makes you wonder why we want to try to make Him able to be understood. Wouldn’t faith be so much more if we let people connect with the unfathomable God rather than the God that a church leader can give the explanation of???? 🙂

Poem Published

It’s funny but I never think of myself as a “published writer” and yet once again I’ve had a poem published. This time it was inspired from a Mindfulness course I went on. A part of the course which really struck me was about not judging things as right and wrong but accepting life as it is, which I’m sure I’ve posted on here before but can’t find.

You can find my poem on Michael Townsend William’s site under Listening Mindfully. I won’t republish it here because I’d love if you’d go to Michael’s site, Stillworks,  and see some of the other interesting things that are there. I think too often we don’t network enough to show what other people are doing out there. So here you can find me a “published writer”. And in fact it’s not the first time I’ve been published. I am in Bradford on Avon book about climate change where my poem is found. I do have other places that I’ve been published but I do forget. I wonder why that is? Is it because I just plain don’t remember? Would I remember if I got paid for it? Or is it something deeper? To be honest I really don’t know. And that is the thing, we could all spend ages psychoanalysing ourselves but sometimes we just have to accept where we are. There is nothing wrong with looking at who we are, trying to figure out what makes us tick, but if we use it to put ourselves into boxes of one sort or another we’ve missed the point. To look at myself and how I work, think, behave, and to do that with others, is only helpful if I can be Mindful about it – and accept it as it is without judgement, without having to put what I find into a like/dislike box.

Footprints – part two

After posting the other day I came across this poem by Kathleen M Quinlan in her book From We to I. (An amazing book of poetry that can be bought from http://www.cinnamonpress.com/index.php/hikashop-menu-for-products-listing/poetry/product/10-from-we-to-i-kathleen-m-quinlan for £4.99)

Here are some experts that I think show how at times God makes us walk through stuff rather than carry us.

Footprints, chased by hungry waves,

stumble out of the sea

A woman skips across the sand,

claiming the earth with her footprints

….

And here are some prophetic words that I had spoken over me back in October 2004. I happened to mention this prophecy to a friend not so long back and she asked me to get it out and share it with her. These words struck me as relevant to the walking rather than being carried.

… I bless you with an increase of faith that you might walk with a fierce faith of Jesus … And though you walk in barren places, may you see that which is under your feet as the creation of God before it was scarred, …. Therefore walk to and fro in the land. And where the sole of your foot treads, that will become an inheritance in My Kingdom. …

Often in Christian circles we see walking as when things go well and being carried when things aren’t going so well. But as I said before I had to walk these last few years, but in fact now I can see why. Like the woman I am claiming the earth with my footprints. I had to walk in barren places. In fact Psalm 23 says “even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death …” Life is tough and we, as Christians, have little to offer others if we just say “God carried me through this” because sometimes that doesn’t make sense. But I know I can say “God got me to walk through this and Him and I, we did ok.” It also means I trust Him to walk with me again when life gets tough.

Oh wouldn’t it be great if I could say “well those last few years were tough, I’ve done my bit now and so can I have an easy ride till I die”? But see I don’t think its like that. I’m a gatherer of those who need encouraging but actually I can only really encourage when I’ve really walked it! Ho hum!!

Footprints

Please note I do think there are loads of times when God does carry us

Please note that I do think there are loads of times when God carries usFor many years Christians had the poem “Footprints” somewhere in their homes. it basically said that there are times when life gets too tough and God carries you through. I’m not sure if that’s right for every time. I think there are times when God holds your hand and you walk together or even times when He lets you go to see what will happen, to grow your faith. It’s not that He’s miles away. In fact I think He’s standing closer than you realise but your human eyes don’t let you see it. But I think there are times when you have to walk the road because then you can show to others how to do it. I must say, after the few years we’ve been through, I only trust those who’ve walked a hard path too. I struggle with those who say “God carried me”. I know God kept me going through it all but because He made me walk it I am stronger for it.

When I was away a couple of weeks ago I took a series of pictures of a path the dog and I were walking, just the two of us, on the Isle of Arran. As we walked I would

A clear path
A clear path

occasionally not be too sure where I should be walking but then would come across a footprint in the mud where someone had slipped of a stone. I knew I was on the

A footprint
A footprint

right path, not just because someone had gone that way before but because someone had slipped off and got caught in the mud or bog. If the people who had walked before me had been super careful and stuck to the stepping stones or been carried by some greater force I would never have know this path was walkable. It gave me such reassurance to know this path had actually been walked by someone. And that is why, I think, at times God doesn’t carry us but makes us walk along. I think too, that at times He wants to strengthen our faith and let us walk unaided.

Again after the last few years that I have walked through I know I am a stronger person, but interestingly too that hasn’t made me more self reliant, but almost more trusting in God, have a deeper faith in God. I no longer trust for something or have faith for something but have faith that God is God and trust that He loves me unconditionally. It’s an interesting place to be. But I also know if He had carried me all that way I would have nothing to share with my friends who don’t see God in places, who don’t expect to see God.

It is an interesting phenomenon that the more I know I can the more faith I have in God. Paradox or fact of life?