My kids walked into school last week for a new year, and like every year, we parents stood outside discussing how the summer had flown and the challenges of returning to a school schedule.
One mom made a comment that was so honest it stuck with me all weekend.
She said, "We moms long for freedom so much when our kids our little, but once we send them off to school, we just head home feeling empty."
Her words felt so true. Many of us do head home feeling empty.
And unfortunately, this feeling usually provokes feelings of sadness or fear, so we refuse to sit with it and immediately try to cover it up with unnecessary tasks and busyness.
We get on the phone, the television goes on, we go to the grocery store and then to Target…
But this empty feeling actually carries an opportunity - a chance to "fill up" this open space with something meaningful.
It doesn't have to be something grand - you don't have to come up with the perfect daily routine or spend your energy pondering your next "calling".
Because there is no "perfect" and our "callings" usually show themselves over time - our minds can't plan everything. We need to trust that things will evolve naturally.
So when we find ourselves with empty spaces, we can practice being gentler and more open to the possibility of the moment.
What can I do with this moment rather than what can I do with the rest of my life.
What do I want to do this morning rather than what do I want to do with every morning from now on.
This open space is really a great opportunity to "be" instead of "do". And I don't mean that we have to sit on a mountain and meditate for hours, we just need to take it moment by moment.
Enjoy coffee, go for a walk, take a nap, and then see where it leads.
We have been taught to believe that these are time wasters; that if we are not "productive" in the traditional sense then we are lazy.
But a lot gets done when we allow things to come.
The great idea that comes in silence, the new friend we meet on our leisurely walk, the rejuvenation and energy that comes from much needed sleep.
We have been taught that space is daunting and needs to be filled, but in actuality, space is what we have been waiting for.
If we try to fill it quickly (overschedule ourselves with activities) or unnaturally (too much television, computer, video games), then it will feel heavy because we are getting ourselves into another endless busyness loop.
Instead, we can open up to the idea that open spaces are safe and necessary. They are an essential part of opening up to the next great thing.
But don't try to figure it all out right now. Trust that your heart is already working on it and that your mind can't put it all together just yet.
Just feel the space, stay in the moment, breathe, and smile. That's enough for today.
She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won't be coming back with the rest
If these are life's lessons, she'll take this test ~ Dixie Chicks
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.