From the moment of our conception we start experiencing transitions from one phase of life to another. We transition from the womb to life on the outside; from childhood to adulthood and then to old age, from good health to bad health and the list goes on. For every transition we experience we learn something new about ourselves. As youngsters we covet being older, but then when we are older we pine for our youth. When we are in good health we try to not think about the "what if's" of bad health and then when we do fall ill we look back and play the "if only" game. If only I had taken better care of myself. Transitions are sometimes slow and barely noticeable and others are lightning fast and leave one out of breath and trying to make sense of what just happened. We don't always see them coming. We might even think we are prepared for one when it does happen but find out later we had no clue. Somethings just can't be prepared for.
I have experienced many transitions in my life, too many to mention here, but suffice to say this latest one is really hitting me where it hurts. I am, what is referred to as a non-traditional student; an older adult who has returned to or is attending college for the first time after a long period of time away from an educational institution. For the past year I have been juggling various roles that I must "play" in order to fulfill my dream to have a degree and better my life. I have been a full time employee at night, a full time college student during the day, and a full time mother for 23 years. Somewhere in there I find some time to sleep, I think. It has been hectic and stressful and some days I wonder what I'm giving myself all this grief for, on purpose. I've heard various rumors that it will eventually be worth it. Right now it's still too early to tell.
All of this stress has been compounded by the fact that my own children are reaching an age where they are looking to the horizon and wondering what's on the other side. I have heard about the "empty-nest" transition but nothing has prepared me for the truly empty feeling that results as one by one my chicks try their wings and head for the sun. The fact that those maternal strings seem so easily cut after all the pain I have gladly suffered to keep them tied securely leaves me feeling lost and somewhat useless. I'm sure that many of the students attending college now are experiencing this new transition of being away from home for the first time. Many of you probably looked forward to this new phase in your life and thus packed your bags and closed the door behind you without thinking too hard about the consequences; about the ones you left behind. Every new phase in your life leaves a ripple affect and those around you feel it in their own way.
It is the cycle of life that a mother nurtures and cares for her children and prepares them for the big world outside her heart. She does what she can to ensure they have the skills they need and at least a basic understanding of how the world works. She tries to teach them people don't always play nice and being hurt is going to happen. Then she teaches them how to deal with that hurt. She spends every waking moment of her life trying to improve the lives of her children and giving them a safe haven from the world and all it's dangers. She does this without thought of reward or the losses she has endured in order for them to prosper. Then suddenly she looks around and finds that her nest is empty (nearly) and all that she has left are the echoing voices of her children in every room of the house and the always present pain of being a mother in her heart.
If you are somebody's child, and you know you are, stop and think for a moment about how your latest transition may have affected those closest to you. As you face each new challenge and reach for the future with open arms...take a moment to think about the two open arms that are now empty waiting patiently for you to remember her and come back and fill them again. She would never stop you from living your life but she still wants to be a part of it.
Have you called your mother today? Have you given her a hug lately (if you can)? Have you stopped to think of her knowing full well that she has never stopped thinking of you? Transitions are never easy for those concerned but a heartfelt call home or an unexpected hug certainly soothes an aching heart.
People tell me there is a light at the end of this paricular tunnel. That may well be true but for now, it's still pitch black.