Summer break is over and it is time for the kids to return to school. It is the time of year to get back into the routine of school drop offs, after schools’ band practices, and Friday night football games. The long lazy days of summer are over ☹ and now it is time for everyone to be busy, busy, busy.
For the past 15ish years, I have been on the mom side of the back-to-school rush. Instead of participating in the activities, I have transformed into a being whose purpose appears to be to transport the participants.
It can be a real struggle to get myself and my children up on time to leave on time to drop them off at school on time so that I can get to work on time. Every morning is another reminder that time will continue to move forward whether I am ready for it or not.
Accelerating Toward an Unknown Future with a Lead Foot
I want to look forward to an autumn without a full calendar. Maybe I could enjoy being a woman who has time to sip her coffee in the morning instead of chugging it. Something about the way each day speeds by faster than the one before seems like my life is accelerating toward an unknown future with a lead foot. My children are growing up. The way that they need me is changing, and I’m not the best at accepting change.
What I fear the most, I think, is the change of my purpose in my own life. I became a mom at the same time I entered legal adulthood. As I approach this next stage of life, I am fretting about what life is going to be like when there is no one to need me to drive them to school, or take them to practice, or sit outside in the bleachers surrounded by other parents as we all wait to see our children do something that makes our sacrifice of time and effort feel worthwhile.
Purpose for the Next Chapter
Many well-meaning people tell me that “I’m going to miss this.” There are many things that I will miss about raising my children, but I guarantee that school drop-off lines won’t be one of them. Maybe when I look back on this time of my life, I will miss the clarity of my life’s purpose.
Purpose can be described as how we make meaning from our lived experiences. It’s what most humans are programed to do. When our calendars are full, it is easy to believe that our purpose is to get things accomplished and to produce something from our lives in an effort to prove that we matter.
In my ministry to older adults, the grievance I hear the most is that at some point they lost their life’s purpose. They believe that their life’s meaning is so intertwined with their ability to produce something of value that when their production value diminishes, so does their purpose.
What breaks my heart as I learn more about the complexities of ageism is just how quick people are diminish their own lived humanity into the role of producing something of value to other people.
As we continue the discussion on what it means to experience Abundant Aging, I hope that there are many more conversations on ways to make abundant meaning from our experiences. Instead of hearing “You are going to miss this,” I hope I to hear “You get to look forward to so much more than the school drop-off line.”
To learn more about ageism and what you can do to end it, join us either In Person or Online at the 2023 Abundant Aging Symposium with keynote speaker Dr. Tracey Gendron, author of Aging UnMasked: Exploring Age Bias and How to End It. For full details and to register, go to https://www.unitedchurchhomes.org/2023-annual-symposium/.
For Reflection (either individually or with a group)
Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases. Take these questions for a walk in the woods or in your neighborhood, for a swim or a run or for a hot soak in the tub. Invite the questions to join you for tea or coffee.
- What is your life purpose?
- To what extent is your life purpose connected to what you produce of value for other people?
- How might you make Abundant Meaning from your life’s experiences?
Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group.