I knew our move out of state would be a difficult change for me. But I didn’t recognize the change of season I would experience at the same time.
I had a comfortable life in Conway, Arkansas. I was actively involved in the community as a fellow parent, school volunteer, local magazine writer, piano instructor, and active church member.
I spent most of my time involved with our children’s activities and community events. But when we moved, everything changed.
It changed because my season changed. We had two children already in college who were living away from home, but it was easy to connect with them on week-ends or evenings.
Our fourth oldest child graduated from high school last Spring and made plans to begin college in the Fall. And like her brother and sister, she began her college education in Conway.
So, we moved to Shreveport, Louisiana with one child. Our 10-year-old, Nathan, is the only child we have left at home. It creates a lump in my throat as I realize we have begun the descent to empty nest.
How did this happen? How did we go from four children at home, frequent teen-age struggles, frustrating stepchild rebellion, and unexpected late-night crises to a quiet, easy-going environment with a compliant elementary child who rarely ripples the water?
How did our home move from one that had constant activity with countless children coming and going to a home controlled by the activity of one?
Suddenly, I recognize the brevity of our child-rearing season of life.
I know it feels like your stepchildren will never leave home and you will always be in an unending struggle with them — but it really does change.
I know it’s hard to recognize that someday you won’t need to have frequent conversations with your difficult ex-spouse about the children’s visitation schedule — but it really does change.
I know it seems like you will never get the laundry finished, house cleaned, and meals cooked on time because there are simply not enough hours in the day — but it really does change.
And when your season of life takes an abrupt turn, how do you cope?
Lean into your faith, and rely on those you love.
Seek help from someone else who has gone through it. Because at some point, we all experience new seasons of life.
But in our new season, we can find meaning with purposeful involvement in other’s lives around us. We can leave behind the struggles of our stepparenting years and move forward with a renewed faith in maturing relationships with our stepchildren.
So, if you’re in a child-rearing season with difficult stepchildren that seems to have no end, be encouraged. It will not last forever.
But in the midst of it, nurture the relationship with your spouse. Because when the children leave home, and your season of life takes an abrupt turn, your spouse will be there to pick up the pieces with you.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Where are you in the seasons of life? Will you share your experience in the comments below?