5 Ways to Rediscover Yourself Once The Kids Are Grown
Your last child graduating high school can send you into all kinds of mixed emotions. Has the thought gone through your head, “Now What?” You spent the last 18+ years giving your whole being into raising your children to be productive, independent adults, relishing in the title of “MOM”, only to feel like your job is over. Let me be clear, your adult children will always need you in their lives for guidance, advice, and support, but their character, work ethic, and values should already be firmly rooted. And for that, Mom, job well done! The changes they make from here on out have nothing to do with you. They will continue to grow and develop, but they will be making their own choices, whether good or bad. Mom, you are off the hook!
So again, “Now What?” It’s time to rediscover yourself. Who are you other than Mom? What are your dreams and hopes for this next phase of life? What impact can you make on society, now that your children are grown? These are the tough questions I have been struggling with over the last 2 years as both of my boys have graduated, and this is my journey to self-discovery.
My relationship with God is the most important in my life. In the busyness of life, it was easy to lose sight of who He created me to be. I began journaling my prayers, my thoughts, and my questions. I searched the Bible for verses to give me hope and encouragement. I listened to music that was positive, I read inspirational quotes, I talked with trusted friends. I wrote everything down!! I have journaled my entire life. Long ago I used to fear someone would read my private journal, so I always had a mental filter on what I wrote. No longer!! I make sure to keep my journals in a safe place so that I can bare all and share my deepest thoughts and desires.
When my grandmother passed away in 2005, several members of the family cleared out her house. There were many ordinary spiral notebooks in almost every room. At first glance, you may find a random grocery list on its pages, but upon deeper inspection, she had written her prayers, Scripture verses, family members initials, and her deepest thoughts. What a gift to find, and how terrible it would’ve been to accidentally throw them out! Because writing has always been important to me, I pored over each entry to discover a side of Grandma I had never known. This is the way I journal, the deep gut-wrenching truth of who I am, and who I want to become. It helps in my growth to go back and read where God has taken my life’s journey.
Take a Personality Test
I took this a step further and signed up for a weekend course on authentic identity and spiritual giftedness. This course used DISC Personality Types of Behavior assessment, as well as a spiritual gifts test. These, and many others can be found online, including one I recently took, S.H.A.P.E. test- Helping you discover God’s purpose in life and this was very informative. Keep in mind, these types of tests are useful tools to help you understand your personality and giftedness, they are not meant to be set in stone. I have found that my results have changed somewhat over the years as I have grown and matured, and my seasons of life have changed.
Purge Your House
This is a funny one for me because I am a reformed slob. Let me explain a bit. I grew up the baby of the family with a mom that was the epitome of housewives. Our house could have come right out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. She spent her days taking care of her family in every sense of the word, she actually enjoyed ironing! I never had to lift a finger growing up, so I never learned the habits of taking care of a home. I have gotten better at this over the last 24 years of being with my husband.
Now that the kids are grown, do I really need to keep every little item from school or their childhood? I even had their baby teeth in a box, GROSS!! Since both of my boys are commuters to college, I had to purge their rooms carefully. Of course, I didn’t throw away anything without their permission, but now was the time to transition from school years into a more adult college room. I kept one plastic tub of beloved treasures for each boy that I put it in the basement storage.
My house is never spotless, but always inviting. I always have some sort of food in the house for guests. I used to be a pack rat, but after downsizing, I am learning to declutter. I don’t need “stuff” and I am focusing on getting rid of unnecessary things in my home.
Ouch!! I sit here typing that more as a mantra for myself. I have fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed 12 years ago. I had once been on 6 different medications (not anymore), but have put on a ton of weight due to this fact. But, am I using that as an excuse to not be in the best health I can be? I will never be the size I once was, but why can’t I be the best I am today? I can take steps to make each day a little better than the last. I can focus on making wise choices. I can set goals for myself that have nothing to do with losing weight but more about gaining a healthier lifestyle. We have an Alaskan adventure planned for next summer, and I want to be in the best shape I can achieve to hike that beautiful state. If you struggle with fibromyalgia, please read my post on dealing with flare-ups.
Find a Passion
Remember that journal I told you to start writing all of your hopes and dreams? Go back and read anything that gets your heart racing. Try new hobbies: go hiking, attend an art class, volunteer at a homeless shelter, start gardening; whatever your heart desires. Ask God to lead you!! You’ll be surprised at the open doors when you ask for guidance.
Life is a journey. Being a mom doesn’t have to be your entire identity. God created many different facets that make you into a beautiful jewel. Learn to love yourself. Learn to extend yourself grace. Learn how to always keep learning!