My decision to get married a few years ago brought with it a whole kit and caboodle of new identities. I became not just a wife, but a seminary student wife, fire department wife, and guy-with-a-host-of-health-issues wife, as well as a parent. And not just a parent but a swim team, water polo, band, and Boy Scout parent. And as a stepmom, I lurked somewhat in the shadows on those parenting roles, not feeling the full weight of them but also unable to confidently take a place among the moms because the kids already had a mom and she was probably there too. A relief in some ways; a tension in others.
All these new roles might have helped me make friends. That sort of happened. But the circumstances were stacked against me; my background and interests were generally quite different from those of the people in the circles where this new life has taken me. It was hard to find common ground. I often felt I didn't have time for friends and/or I couldn't be a good friend because I had all these things I had to do with or for my new family, including getting dinner on the table every night and trying to put in a full week of work (not always successfully).
Now Chris is done with seminary. This week he leaves the job that has sucked so much life out of him, and he'll be leaving the fire department soon, too. And his health is pretty good now. We won't have any kids living at home, since home, in its previous sense, is no more. Swim team and water polo are behind us, and we'll be 3,0000 miles away from any band concerts or Boy Scout events... and from the regular round of Wade family birthday and holiday gatherings too.
Yup, just over three years into parenting, I'm an empty-nester! Sometimes I joke about that because I know how funny it sounds. But it's weird funny as well as ha-ha funny. I feel some of the same mix of grief and relief, pride and concern, that "real" parents feel about having the kids out of the house. I'm kind of used to Haley doing her own thing, but I don't want to say goodbye to Daniel!
What will the next year or so mean for me in terms of identity? I'll still be a wife and parent, of course, but the job descriptions are quickly changing and the emotional price tag, which had been so high, has just been drastically reduced. My social calendar is practically empty! But I can have friends again, right? At least theoretically? I know, it's not automatic, and I'll still be working full-time and going to school. But I'm praying for a good friend or several. A supportive small group. A church where I can serve and connect with people in more meaningful ways than of late, and yes, maybe even a book club.