There are few greater reality checks in life than to drive away from your daughter’s first apartment (and leave her there), or seeing a big ‘For Rent’ (or ‘For Sale’) sign on your front lawn.

I had both happen to me within 3 days.  Two life-changing events to sort through, hold myself in check, both are complex roller coaster rides through a twisted tunnel of the cold, thick Estrogen Forest already growing wild in my life.  Can it get any more complicated than this?

My daughter and I had made the most of her 6 week furlough from freshman year of college.  It is her first summer after dorm life, a part time job with ROTC drills and a small part in a research project, and maintaining a very high grade point average.   That equals Crazy Busy!  After a full week of sleep, she finally woke up to discover – she was bored.

My little adrenaline-junkie has not learned that lesson about balance yet, and she crashed harder than the Great Depression after months of pizza-fueled college life.  I think what was equally weird to her and myself was looking at each other and asking – who are you now?

What she was too busy to realize: What did Mom’s life become while she was gone?

Well, this Mom went through some big adjustments, including starting back to work the day after she left, the whole empty-nest thing, a very strange craving for cereals, and a bad breakup with a boyfriend (still a sad heart here).  PLUS, a job change to a shrunken salary and some medical bills carried over from my forced sabbatical from the work force prior to her graduation in high school.   All that through a wickedly cold winter too, which even left this hearty girl who typically loves snow, to hibernate as much as possible.

That was not the fun party train I had envisioned for the freely-frolicking years.  I still am wondering who I am supposed to be and what I’m made of.  (Reading back over the last paragraph, I think that answered my question.)  By the way, I did not get through it alone.  I had a very BIG HELPER!  You know who that is!

But my daughter did not know about all that.  So we spent time together and had some fun getting reacquainted, usually ending up on the porch in the cooler evenings with a popsicle and delving into the deeper questions of our new lives, maybe a walk, then a movie with my famous homemade popcorn.

Most were great shared stories, some were sad, some were typical concerns for a young daughter just dipping her toes in the universe for the first time.

Within weeks, she shared her plans to return to her college town -which is over 3 hours away driving very fast – to take a summer class and work through the summer.  This was a change since her previous announcement of taking a summer class HERE at a Community College.  I got a brain freeze on that bite into the popsicle when she said that.

Now I know she’ll be fine and has already demonstrated a maturity to take care of herself.  But I’m still a Mom seeing a gorgeous and smart but very ‘young’ baby lady into the world.  I know what’s out there, and hope I don’t have to break any male bones along the way. (I know, very unchristian – like, but what parent doesn’t turn into a grizzly concerning their daughters?)

Then there are my own struggles of having to swallow my pride and find a cheaper place to live.  I love this home of  7 years, but ‘change’ has been making its voice loud in my ears from every direction, and I have to bow to it or break.  It was also confirmed to move on by the way the Lord handled where I would live next and be safe.  That was nothing short of a miracle.

He answered and supplied every single need along the way too, even to the request for boxes, which someone approached me about giving a whole car load of folded boxes and paper.  The new cheaper rent is a huge relief, a chance to start new, regroup and figure out what the Lord wants me to do next.

To ease my mind, the place my daughter lives at was much nicer than I had thought she would get for the money she paid, and except for some cleanup in there – she really is okay.  He took care of her too.

So I’m packing every night for over a week, my back hurts; I’m frustrated with lack of time to write but the ideas keep coming everyday; I’m itching to go walking through this beautiful park near my old place, and explore the new neighborhood soon; and there’s two popsicles left in the freezer that we had not eaten together.

One thing at a time.  I sit on the porch and enjoy a popsicle alone after a heavy packing night in a heat wave.  And the stark white ‘for rent’ sign in the night air is a reminder that all things change – and it’s not all bad.  That era is over.  Next chapter. It’s just life.

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