No matter where you are on this path, new moms or grandmothers, you can find peace along this rocky road of family life through Him. I need this gentle reminder too. I need to remember that I am not alone.
Another season has come. Fall interrupts summer too soon. Another school year begins for my two daughters and husband. This time around I have a 10-year-old who cried the night before fourth-grade that she felt afraid about “being one of the older kids” at her elementary school. She’s usually so confident but she knew change was coming and that’s not easy for any of us. This time around I have a 14-year-old who starts high school as a freshman. She tottered between nervousness and excitement nearly all summer. This time around I have a husband who is a teacher and a coach at the high school where our teenager now attends. She won’t have Mr. Seidel for any classes this year, which may give them time to adjust. As with every situation, there are advantages and disadvantages, but we try to focus on the positive. While we joke that my husband’s work as a Catholic school teacher wasn’t in our plans, it was in God’s plans, we choose to send our daughters to Catholic schools.
This time of year always causes me to pause and realize how quickly the busy days fly by. I tell myself that it can’t be nearly 20 years ago that my husband’s high school class made him a stack of homemade congratulations cards for being a new father, but it’s true. By chance, I discovered these cards in a box this spring after our daughter graduated from eighth-grade. She found them amusing, especially because she recognized some family names of the students who created them for her dad. We are thankful to be a part of a close-knit, small Catholic school system.
I’m starting a new school year too, as the mother and wife caring for my daughters and husband, hoping and praying their transitions and work ahead go smoothly. As I remind myself to be grateful for my healthy daughters growing up and my husband’s steady job and not to be sad, I sometimes wonder who takes care of me. Sometimes I feel alone in my worries. I don’t always remember that He is always there for me, yes, even in difficult transitions. He is as close as a simple prayer like a song.
One morning during the first week of school, I took a long run, cautiously keeping to sidewalks in the thick autumn fog. A long run: It’s a practice I’ve started again to take better care of myself. As I move closer to that milestone age of 50, I’ve been thinking more about how I want to feel and look for my fifth decade. The extra demands of having a teenager, the extra gray hair and wrinkles, the extra tiredness at the end of a long day and the extra stresses of my marriage, also in a middle-age transition, have motivated this. I’m finally learning that it’s not selfish to take care of myself. When I don’t, I find that I am not as present, patient and prayerful with my loved ones and my work as I am when I take it easier on me.
Back to that run, my mind felt as foggy as the wet mist that surrounded my neighborhood. I sought solace in the fresh air and my favorite music on my iPod, another piece of technology that I don’t quite understand but I appreciate. My teen daughter is more than eager to download my favorite songs onto it. She has motives beyond helping her mom, of course. She gets a chance to check out popular music, plus she knows mom gives her a few dollars for new iTunes when she helps me with mine. Sometimes she’ll even surprise me and put a song on my iPod that she thinks I might enjoy.
This happened like a small miracle when “He Raises Me Up” broke through on my iPod to ease my hurting heart. My teen must have recalled that I liked the song when it was performed on last season’s “American Idol.” As I ran and listened to the lyrics, I felt like I was praying to my Lord. “When I am down, and oh my soul, so weary; When troubles come and my heart burdened be; Then, I am still and wait here in the silence, Until you come and sit a while with me.”
I felt like Jesus came not to sit but to run with me that morning and I praised Him along with the lyrics: “You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains; You raise me up to walk on stormy seas; I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; You raise me up…To more than I can be.”
I pushed myself harder and breathed deeper as I pictured myself, sitting comfortably on top of Jesus’ strong shoulders. I imagined the high waves on a nearby ocean with rolling white caps but I felt no fear. I was smiling, and I felt confident about whatever the day – and the school year ahead would bring. In all of my future joys and challenges, I will not be alone to guide my family through it. “There is no life – no life without its hunger; each restless heart beats so imperfectly; But when you come and I am filled wonder, Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.”
Copyright 2012 Kim Seidel