I did the catwalk along the aisle between the shelves of shoes without my walking stick in front of the mirror. With arms spread out, I turned around, paused to rock on my heels, and walked back towards my SistaFriend.
“What are you doing?”
“I am recalibrating,” I answered with a smile.
I wasn't doing the recalibrating myself. It was the hydraulic system in the heel of my prosthetic feet—the Feet of Grace—adjusting the equilibrium to ensure that I maintain balance and stability because of the changes in the height of the heel of the shoes.
The hydraulic system allows me the flexibility of 2cm in the extension of the ankle to ensure that I don't lose balance and fall when there is a change in my height of my heel. This allows me wear shoes with heels 3-5cm high.
It was the last day of the four-day orientation for the parents of the new students admitted to the College. It had been four days of intense activities and information sharing. College administrators were preparing the parents for the change that was about to take place in the dynamics of our relationship with our children who are now Frosh (Freshmen) in the University.
They emphasized the limits of our access to significant information concerning our children’s education and health under the Privacy Protection Act. According to the laws of the land, we could no longer have access to this information once the children turn 18 years old.
Our children are now adults who would be making significant decisions by themselves. Our roles as parents are about to go through a change and take a new dimension. Yes, they are no longer children. They are young adults facing a new life of freedom and independence in the University. They, also, are in a season of change. And we, as parents, have to trust that we have trained them up in a way that will guide them to recalibrate aright.
They asked us to say our goodbyes and leave “our students” in their care, assuring us that they have systems in place to ensure none of them falls off the radar or through the cracks.
I came to California to support my second son as he made his transition to the University. So I said my preliminary goodbyes that afternoon with the intention of seeing him one more time before departing California on my way back home to Switzerland.
My second and last child has spread his wings and flown off the nest. I knew without a doubt a new season of change is upon me.
With change comes the need to recalibrate—adjust to the new definition of normal.
My SistaFriend understood what it feels to walk away leaving your once-a-child behind and face a season of change that comes with it. She was waiting for me with an agenda. First, she deposited me in the salon for a manicure. Next on the agenda was the trip to the shoe warehouse. Needless to say, we didn't talk much about our adult children as we scoured the aisles for shoes that met my specifications.
I used to collect shoes. I shared that story in Once Upon A Time Of Feet And Painted Toenails. With the amputation of my legs came a season of change. I had to give away my high-heeled shoes and started looking broad-heeled shoes for the Feet Of Grace. I learnt to adjust to these new parameters that now guide my shoes selection.
Change comes to us in different ways at different times and phases of our lives. In the season of change, we are required to make adjustments to maintain stability and equilibrium.
My season of change:
I am familiar with change. I have been through several seasons of change. But change is taking place again in different spheres of my life. I said goodbye to my son on Sunday evening. He walked away hurriedly without looking back for the next program on his orientation agenda. He was excited about his new college life. I drove away knowing my role as a nurturer had ended. He is going to take care of himself henceforth.
The following day, I got on the plane to depart California. It was the first time I was traveling alone without any member of my family or a friend since October 2007. It felt strange to sit beside a complete stranger and to have no meaningful conversation except occasional courtesies for almost seven hours. It marked the beginning of a new season different from what I had become accustomed to, and a re-entry into an independent life. I knew there would be more of such travels as the Feet of Grace takes on its assignments.
The flight to Chicago provided me with the opportunity to reflect on the life I have shared with my husband and sons so far. My heart overflowed with gratitude to God for the blessing they have been to me. They bore with me the burden of the storms of the last eight years without once complaining. I am of all women most blessed to have these three men in my life.
In another ten days, I will be back in the air again, this time on the last leg of my return journey home with my husband and an empty nest waiting for me at the other end. My husband and I will begin a new phase in our lives as empty nesters. We will need to recalibrate so that we can fit well into this new life.
I pondered on the areas where we would need to make adjustments as I flew over the drought affected mountainous landscape from Ontario to San Francisco. I knew for sure that we must make every effort to prevent drought in our relationship and family life in this season of change. We must keep our relationship fresh, vital and flourishing.
One area that will require attention and negotiation across the board is COMMUNICATION.
Managing Communications Across Different Time Zones:
In the last couple of weeks, we found ourselves in different time zones with fourteen hours apart. That required some concerted effort and negotiations to ensure that all the four of us can communicate with each other even if not all together at the same time. The school suggested that we negotiate a communication plan with our children. There's wisdom in that counsel if someone is going to sleep when the other is just waking up on the other side of the world.
Managing without significant persons:
Sooner than later, the day is going to come that I will actually be alone at home. I will have to lock the door by myself that night and go up two flights of stairs to my bedroom, activate the alarm and go to sleep. I have never had to do that since we moved into our home in Geneva twelve years ago. But I had a good practice living alone in Cairo for almost eighteen months in between. So I am very sure by the grace of God I will recalibrate correctly and adjust in the season too.
The chorus of the song, “My Life Is In Your Hands” by Kirk Franklin came to my heart as I pondered on my season of change:
I know that I can make it
I know that I can stand
No matter what may come my way
My life is in Your hands.
With Jesus, you can make it
With Jesus, you can stand
No matter what may come your way
Your life is in His hands.
Some changes give us notice and time to prepare. Some changes come unannounced and unexpected. Some are painful and devastating. Some are part of growth and life. Whatever kind of changes you may be faced with, you need to know what does not change when everything changes.
God is unchanging.
That's why we cannot be consumed or destroyed in the season of change.
What are the changes going on in your life in this season? What do you have to do to recalibrate and adjust to your new definition of normal? In which areas do you have to negotiate with significant people in your life so you can maintain stability?