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It always takes me a while to adjust to new situations. Stepping through doors as a newcomer, a stranger, can be scary; learning my way around a different community; easing this still-somewhat-shy me into a new social circle; finding my bearings in an unfamiliar workplace… I usually stumble more often than not, or hesitate too often, hoping to prevent the inevitable fall.

And so it was when our kiddos left. I can avoid the empty bedroom, but how do I deal with the silence? The absence of laughter, music, calls of Mom, I need…!

In some ways parenting is harder after they’re grown. The world is not a giant playground, I’d remind them while pulling back on the reins.

But my view is so different from theirs. I try to rest in knowing there’s One who loves them even more than I do.

And I parent on my knees.

Too many times my prayers reach Heaven dripping in tears.

During the rush of their childhood years, I thought things were good. I lined my priorities straight, kept their lives ordered, took them to the park, linens cleaned, tummies fed, schoolwork done. Made sure the nightlight came on as the sun slipped out of sight at day’s end. Pointed them to God.

But an ever-changing culture contradicts my values, and I second-guess, and wonder if the good was really good, and if the bad wasn’t quite so? Or if there’s deception behind society’s drama playing out day after day.

I keep my Bible close beside me even now. Uninterrupted quiet time in the mornings to study and ponder and pray is a new luxury. (And whether the younger generation realizes it or not, the world is not always a safe place, and our children still need our prayers, no matter their age.)

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Now after almost a year, the Preacher and I have settled into a new routine.

I get ready earlier than I used to, and sit in the car – me waiting for him, instead of him waiting – with no little ones making a mess, no teens knocking on our bedroom door to borrow my stuff in the Sunday morning rush.

The Preacher knows where to find food when I’m running late, past dinner time, still completing errands, or going to appointments, or helping another woman carry a burden too heavy for one. And he understands when I sit at my laptop long after bedtime.

I can eat Greek yogurt straight from the container without worrying about germs, because there are only the two of us. He has his treats and I have mine. And I don’t have to share.

The bag of frozen strawberries or bowl of pineapple will be as full in the morning as it was the night before. No more resident-teen-age-midnight-snack-monsters to deplete the food supply. And I actually get to eat some – today and tomorrow and the next day!

I don’t have to wait my turn to walk on the treadmill or take a shower or use the laundry room.

If we want to run around in our undies or make love in the living room before a blazing fire we can. No one will see, and the cats don’t mind.

And the back half of the house stays cleaner longer. Ahh… Only the bugs live back there now.

As it’s just the two of us in this new chapter of married life, I’m surrounded by a sense of other-worldliness – almost dreamlike. Amazing how 30 years of having little (and then not-so-little) people dependent on me, with their neediness and hanging-on and my having to always look out for them is now replaced with a lightness… like removing the 50-pound pack off my back after reaching the top of a mountain. And then standing in awe to enjoy the view.

Super Mom has taken off her cape and packed it away in the spare closet.

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And the Preacher has no more competition when he wants to talk to me or take me outside to look at the garden. We hold hands more often, “splurge” on fro-yo whenever we’re in the Valley.

There’s an unfamiliar contentment… We did it. (As in, we survived!) Wow! After seeing something through to the end, and reaching the finish line. Yeah, we stumbled more than some, but we kept going.

For a righteous man may fall seven times, and rise again…  –  Proverbs 24:16

And we made it. We survived and the kids survived – actually better than they think, but they’ll figure that out.

And God was good. Because this mama knew she was lacking and prayed a lot. Anything good in my kids is because He answers prayers and helps those who turn to Him. He gives where I lack and guides in the dark, and pours wisdom and grace and love in abundance. Because He knows how it is being a parent.

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As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  –  Psalm 103:13-14

It’s the beginning of enjoying the fruit of our reward, I think – hoping I’m not premature in my assessment.

We’re not the same people we were when the Preacher and I first met all those years ago. But we’re not entirely different, either. Our strengths and weaknesses have complemented each other’s, and we’ve learned and grown and developed callouses in the right places, toughened up where necessary… We’re a bit wiser, more patient, and more tender in ways, too.

The end of a thing is better than its beginning…  –  Ecclesiastes 7:8

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Just the two of us – an ending, a beginning, and a new adventure in this quiet house full of memories. (And frozen yogurt.)

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