A mother of young children operates in sheer survival mode most of the time. Must feed them. Must clean them. Must keep them safe. Days are littered with bright wonderful accomplishments, smiles, and giggles. I found my life involved moving from one spilled cup of cheerios to teaching values, changing diapers and then on to a new spilled cup of cheerios. My girlfriends and I would talk about how our lives seemed to be a series of putting out the fires and continuously searching for a way to get ahead of the fire starters.
My children are older now. When they spill something they can clean it up. When they start a fire, they may literally have started a fire (exercise caution when using hairspray on your potato cannon). They need me just as much but in very different ways.
My days are so strange now. Good strange but strange nonetheless. I am rarely awakened in the morning by emergencies like a dog vomiting in someone's bed, weird itchy rashes, or missing hamsters and bunnies in the house. I wake up pretty much when I want and get moving when I feel like it which is usually sometime between 7-8 am. I sip my coffee and browse on my laptop. Then I decide what I want to do for the day. I know, weird.
You may be thinking this is bliss. It is for the most part. A well deserved respite from 24 years of mothering without stopping. But can I tell you a little secret... I miss the chaos a little, okay, a lot.
I am left to my own devices and to find my own way each day. I have plenty to fill my days - a business I've built refurbishing furniture, helping my daughter with her bakery, continuing to homeschool my youngest at 13 for starters. I love my writing, my flowers and homemaking. I love the outdoors and I have carefree timelessness with all those I love. I have time to sit in the classroom of silence with my Lord, and time to serve in all the capacities I love.
Yet, some days I miss the firefighting. I miss the roller coaster ride a little bit. I miss collapsing into bed at night and falling immediately asleep because I had nothing at all left to give. I miss feeling like Wonder Woman. I miss fighting fires successfully. Maybe I really just miss those days with my little children? I miss creating the fires in the first place. Like having 3 dogs, fostering a litter of 9 husky puppies, having a bunny, a hamster, a fish and a cat. I miss being at the farm at sunrise for horseback riding, hiking and hot coffee or heading to the beach at sunset to make memories.
It's harder being a good steward of your time when your time is all your own. It's harder getting older and having MS hasn't made it a cakewalk exactly. The energy, the drama, the feeling that I was soaking up life in each and every moment was so rewarding.
Now I am ever mindful of how I order my days, how I spend the precious freedoms afforded me. It was easier in some ways to have the day sweep you up and take you along. I'm learning to find my way in this new normal. But it's strange to me, a firefighter with no fires to put out. I suppose I could just ride around in the big truck and play with the lights and sirens? Give rides to little kids and rescue kitties from trees. I guess I could teach fire safety to other mothers. I don't know yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something.