Sometimes change is good. We often hear expressions like, 'A change is as good as a rest', or 'The change will do you good'.
But what about when Change comes uninvited. Maybe not unexpected, but still uninvited.
That's what happens to us parents at this stage of our lives. Change arrives. It may knock politely, it may hang around outside for a while, warning you of its proximity. It may come with the sweetest smile on its face. But it comes, and nothing can hold it back.
The past year has seen so many changes in our lives. None of them have been tragic. None of them have caused sorrow and grief - unlike the case for so many people, some of whom are known to me and very dear to me. None of the changes have broken my heart, and yet ... there's a 'but still....'.
One of the changes for us was our selling of our house. I know a house is simply bricks and mortar, but a home isn't. And the house in which we'd lived for the past dozen years was more than four walls and furniture.
It was home.
It was where our older children became teenagers and lived all their teen lives; it was where the Wee Guy went from being a toddler to being the Wee Guy, and even where he ceased to be the Wee Guy and became Calum Stewart. It was where we lived and loved and laughed. A lot.
This was where dozens of friends and relatives came and visited and holidayed with us.
Some came from as far away as America's West Coast,
while others came for more regular family gatherings from just 'up the road'.
Rows of colourful wellies on a bonfire night. Their being lined up here is evidence that the bonfire is now beginning to recede, the fireworks display is over, and we are all inside having our fill of food and chat.
It's where countless cups of tea were made and enjoyed with countless cakes and biscuits, along with countless 'blethers'. How many new recipes were tried out in our kitchen, giving even more excuse for the kettle to go on so we could have 'just a wee taste' of this new creation?
We will have no more Bonfire Nights on cold November evenings. No more Boxing Day get-togethers, eating left-overs from the previous day, along with endless supplies of chocolate.
And no more homeschool get-togethers either.
Friends and their children celebrating Independence Day with us for one of our homeschool days
Whether for our 4th of July celebrations, or our Thanksgiving Days, or for no-particular-reason days, we had some wonderful times with the other homeschooling families on the island. That was then ...
...these are some of the things that made our house Home.
Although, even more than all these great times, it was the people in these photos that made our house Home.
See, we left our home last year, and moved to another house. Yes, another home. The Builder began in a new place of work, changing much of what he'd known for the previous decade - decades!
But a change of place of abode, and a change of employment has been nothing to us in comparison with us not being a complete family any more. No - let me correct myself. We are a complete family: we simply don't live under the same roof now.
And that has been the change I've found hardest. As I said at the beginning of the post, it is not a tragedy; it is not a cause for grieving. But Change has come, opened the doors, taken what it had to, and left a draughty feel to the house. It will simply take some time for the dust to settle, and the place to warm up again because I have been a Mum for all the life I can remember, and being Mum is almost all I can be. The Builder has been Dad for all the life he can remember (isn't it funny how life before kids almost passes into non-existence?), and it's tough getting used to not seeing each one of our children every single day. It takes some getting used to. We were so accustomed to knowing everything they wore, everything they ate, and everywhere they were.
Change has changed everything.
I am just so thankful that whilst the family under my roof was halved in one swoop, we are blessed to have two of our kids still with us. Oh yes, all being well (yes, I said, 'well', and meant it), Change will come in the years to come and some day it'll be the Builder and I, and all the kids will have flown the nest.
C' est la vie.
And, truthfully, despite the pangs in my heart, I wouldn't have it any other way.
I have every reason to be thankful: Catherine is married to the man she loves. She loves him; he loves her; they both love the Lord.... What more could I wish for? Truthfully, nothing.
DR is studying, and working, and enjoying life living with my sister and her family. Now she gets to do his laundry, pick up after him, and listen to him wax lyrical on subjects ranging from politics to history to politics to coffee flavours to politics to sport.
And I still have this one ...
I still have both of these!
And I get to have everyone at Christmas!
I don't write all this to gain your sympathy - I have no reason to need sympathy! But this is where I am right now, and this is where my heart is. I'll always, from now on, have more of an idea of what parents feel like when a daughter gets married, or when a son leaves home. I'll know better, because I'm living there right now.
Change may be good. Our changes are good. But when we've been used only to the slight alterations that come when toddlers become children, and children become teenagers, and homeschooled kids become students, or workers, then this kind of change feels a bit seismic.
I'm going to finish now with two or three sentences.
1. I am not complaining about any of these changes: I have nothing to complain about, and each change is a cause for joy. I honestly do know that, and feel it.
2. I'm glad that the Builder is staying. I'm glad that marriage is permanent, and that he won't be 'moving on'. :)
3. I'm even more glad that there is One who never changes, who will never leave us nor forsake us, and in Whose company I will yet be - not for a while, but for all Eternity.
Now, that will be a change for the better!