Today is the first day of summer (you can get great summer deals today, including a free small blizzard at Dairy Queen), when it’s the longest day of the year in the U.S. and the shortest day of the year for people in Australia and residents south of the equator).
Our daughter Heather, her girls, her boyfriend Andy, and his kids, took off fast today for a much-needed break from work and a vacation in Branson, MO. It was a surprise for the kids.
There’s lots to do in Branson, although I joke to Ray that it’s “an old people’s place” with country hick singers and the entertainment shows (he loves it). However, Branson has beautiful scenery at Table Rock State Park and nice shopping and restaurants at Branson Landing.
Heather made a fun scavenger hunt at her house, where the kids looked for clues all over the house, until they got to the last clue which read that they were going on summer vacation in Branson. She is such a fun mom! The kids loved the scavenger hunt!
Today I went to lunch with our youngest daughter Leah. When she was still living at home, she and I would go to lunch every two weeks when Ray was paid.
This was our mom-daughter special time together. After she moved out, I wanted to continue the tradition. Leah now stays busy working, taking her violin lessons, drawing her art, and doing stuff with her friends. We still try to go out every couple of weeks for our “mom-daughter” time.
You can follow Leah on Instagram @leah.merae to see the art she’s working on recently from daily prompts. You can also check out and buy her art at her Society 6 online store (Leah Merae).
I try to do lunches with Heather, too, only she lives much further away (an hour), she works more than full-time hours, and she is constantly busy, but we see each other when we possibly can.
Our middle daughter Eden stays very busy too, working 3 jobs, but she and Ray regularly text and video chat. We drop by to see them at times, since they and Leah live down the street from us in Butler.
While our three precious daughters stay on the go every day and live their own, busy lives, I’m still trying to adjust to the empty nest. (I digress from the first day of summer, but I’m going with the writing flow for now.)
I’m not going to lie. It’s hard. Real hard. The house feels so empty at times. (My marriage isn’t what it should be yet, though we are in Christian marriage counseling now.)
At night when things are often too quiet, I lay down, wrestling with insomnia again, and then the mom guilt attacks me. The regrets. The painful ache in my heart, missing their beautiful, sweet faces and their physical presence here.
The haunting, condemning thoughts of, “I should have done more fun things with them” or “I shouldn’t have yelled at them so much” or “Why was I so focused on a clean house instead of just enjoying my time with them more?” Sometimes I miss them so much.
These days I do stay busy with my speaking and writing books. When I’m in between books, I get so restless, and feel like I’m just going to absolutely come out of my skin from boredom and anxiety. Today at lunch, Leah wisely told me, “You need to find new hobbies, mom.”
“Like what?” I asked her in between bites of a juicy cheeseburger and french fries drowned in ketchup.
“Creative things like painting or playing a musical instrument. For example, right now I’m learning to make origami.“
I told her that while origami is cool, I don’t want to do that and that I don’t know how on earth to draw or to play an instrument. The only instrument I’ve ever wanted to learn how to play was piano (which I quit my lessons as a child) and the guitar, so I could pretend to be Heart’s musician Nancy Wilson. But I wanted to play bass guitar, not rhythm. I never learned how, and now I have no desire to be a rock star.
“What else can I do?” I asked my child who is wise beyond her years.
Whatever I want, she said. And Leah thinks that anyone can learn to draw or to play an instrument, no matter what your age is. It’s not too late to learn something new!
Here are some things I DO want to do–this summer:
- Spend time with God and our family;
- Travel somewhere new;
- Start my walking/jogging routine again (pray for my self-discipline, puh-leeze! I’ve gained all my weight back!)
- Drink more water and continue healthy eating (cut carbs and sugar dramatically, more salads and fresh veggies);
- Restore our marriage;
- Possibly write a children’s book with Leah illustrating the art on the front cover (she’s thinking about it!);
- De-clutter my office (tame the paper tiger!);
- Go horseback riding somewhere;
- Have some much needed down time at the beach, my place of rest and refilling;
- Visit my family and friends in different states;
- Go on another train ride;
- Speak at a women’s conference (several times would be great!);
- Lead at least one person to Christ, hopefully more;
- See God moving in our family, drawing us closer to Him and one another;
- Visit the mountains;
- Ride a hot air balloon ride with Ray, drinking champagne;
- Have roses bloom in my home garden;
- Grow more Christ-like, in the fruit of the Spirit.
- Laugh more.
These are just some of the things I’d love to do. What about you? Share your comments below.