“Mothering is hard work and the most important job a woman can do. In spite of the difficulties and obscurity and lack of recognition in the job, I loved it. I knew it mattered in the light of eternity. I felt honored to be called mother, to significantly influence the next generation. And now, now that the kids are gone, I wonder: Does anyone really need me?” --- Barbara Rainey
The empty nest season is much like JELLO --- hard to grab hold of and constantly changing shape. Whether she stayed at home with her kids or held a demanding corporate job, every mother will feel the effects of her last child leaving the nest. The transition to the empty nest, like every other milestone in a woman’s life, is best when shared with a good girlfriend who is a few steps ahead of you on the journey but close enough to shine the light back in your direction. In their new book, BARBARA AND SUSAN’S GUIDE TO THE EMPTY NEST, authors Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates share the joys and challenges they have experienced as their children have grown and taken flight.
Barbara’s husband, Dennis Rainey, is the president of FamilyLife, a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ. The couple have been strong advocates for families everywhere and developed the HomeBuilders Couples Series®. They have collaborated on numerous books over the years including PARENTING TODAY’S ADOLESCENT, PRESSURE PROOF YOUR MARRIAGE, REKINDLING THE ROMANCE. Barbara is a familiar face to thousands of couples whose marriages have been enriched through attending FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember™ marriage conferences. Susan Yates, her good friend and coauthor, is a popular speaker, the author of thirteen books, and served as the parent/child columnist forToday’s Christian Woman for ten years.
“We were made for more than motherhood,” Barbara says. “But somewhere along the way we become very settled in our role. The job of mother becomes not just what we do, but who we are. This is why the emptying nest is such a shock to our system. When our children leave home, our identity walks out the door with them. Some of us may even feel that ‘me’ dies when ‘they’ leave. And we don’t know how to find ‘me’ again.”
The book encourages empty nesters to enjoy the reprieve from the frenetic pace of motherhood and take some time for themselves. “God doesn’t desire that we live in a constantly depleted state. He made provision for the refreshment of His people and we would be wise to follow His pattern and schedule a season for retreat and rest, to reflect on the past and seek His will for the future,” Barbara states.
Barbara and Susan have raised six and five children, respectively. Drawing from their own experience, they encourage readers to embrace this period of change and anticipate the next great adventure God has planned for them. The book addresses the issues every woman wonders about in this unsettling season of life:
Who am I now and what is my purpose?
Does anyone need me?
Is it okay that I feel sad?
Is it okay that I feel free?
What do I do with my husband now?
How do I relate to my grown children?
How should I spend my time?
Barbara and Susan highlight the fun of rediscovering spontaneity in marriage, the value of spending time with girlfriends, and the excitement of finding God’s vision and purpose for the second half of life. They also address the disappointments and hardships that sometimes accompany the empty nest: caring for aging parents, dealing with menopause, surviving a failed marriage, and grieving over the child who has gone astray. On this last point, Barbara candidly relates the painful story of how God drew her closer to Him through her daughter’s rebellion.
Because they have included so many anecdotes from their own families and personal stories of other women, the book reads like a conversation with an old friend. The format is ideal for a women’s small group study. Each chapter includes questions to consider, resources to assist, and practical steps that will help readers process this transition in their lives. Though the onset of the empty nest brings mixed emotions, it is a time for celebration, a time for a woman to reconnect with her spouse, her friends, herself, and her God. The book is scheduled for release in April of 2008.
For more information, visit www.familylife.com.
BARBARA AND SUSAN’S GUIDE TO THE EMPTY NEST: Discovering New Purpose, Passion & Your Next Great Adventure © Copyright 2011 by Barbara Rainey and Susan Yates. Reprinted with permission by Family Life Publishing. All rights reserved.