The emptiness of empty nesting

Today I got up and read my scriptures for the first time in ages. I’ve been intending to for some time, but scripture reading has seemed empty lately. I used to love it so much! But since the faith-tastrophe, not much church-related has fed me. I have to admit this wasn’t the best scripture reading exercise either. I am trying to decide what I think about Jesus Christ. What I’ve seen of conference hasn’t been helpful, and today’s reading left me with some questions:

“I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.” I felt this.

“But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them. And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.” Then Jesus heals the sick, blesses all the kids, there’s an angelic manifestation, the sacrament is instituted, and he gives the disciples the holy ghost. Sorry, Lost Tribes. You’ll just have to wait. I love that he stayed with the Nephites. I am confused that he did it at the sacrifice of his other responsibilities.

“And when the disciples had come with bread and wine, he took of the bread and brake and blessed it; and he gave unto the disciples and commanded that they should eat. And when they had eaten and were filled, he commanded that they should give unto the multitude. And when the multitude had eaten and were filled, he said unto the disciples: Behold there shall one be ordained among you, and to him will I give power that he shall break bread and bless it and give it unto the people of my church, unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name. And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you. And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you. And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it. And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled. And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you. And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” Okay. I have lots of questions. The D&C 20 sacrament prayers say that the bread is for showing our willingness to keep the covenant, not the wine. Why doesn’t this match up? I mean, the Book of Mormon was already in print. Joseph Smith just had to look at it to make the prayers match. I had a good experience last week with the sacrament prayers, so I was kind of attuned to this question. It triggered some doubts. Sometimes I think the groups Jesus had sacrament with actually had a meal together, not just shared little nuggets. But wine from “the cup” does make it seem like just a sip. I’m not sure about what actually happened. I think you can remember Jesus and not have his Spirit with you. There are a lot of scholars in this camp. So what does it actually mean to remember his body?

And why am I even thinking about this? It is kind of dumb. I had set a timer for 15 minutes, but after the study and pondering I did on this stuff, it took me 20 minutes to get to the end of Chapter 18. By then I was frustrated with myself.

So I took a shower. One good thing about empty nesting: you have a lot of time to take care of your skin. My feet haven’t been this soft since I sprouted forth from the womb! Jared doesn’t care about this (or much else, tbh), but since I go barefooted all the time I can, I am glad to have feet that aren’t split and cracked all the time.

Then I cleaned the kitchen and did the dishes.

Then I paid the bills. Jared got a new job two months ago, and he’s only being paid monthly now, so it’s been a little bit of an adjustment to paying bills just once per month.

Now it’s 10:20am, so I’m putting off clearing out my office to paint and put the new flooring in there. There is SO MUCH STUFF in that room. I’ve known I was going to redo it for two years now, so I haven’t made any attempt to organize it in longer than that even. It is so, so bad. Like horrifying. I closed the business in January, so going through the business stuff has been kind of sad. I don’t know what to do with all these leftover charms… Someone in Rixeyville wants all the jewelry findings, so I’m going to sell most of that to them. The truth is I just don’t want to look at all the papers: taxes, medical bills, receipts, official stuff, old stuff from my old work. Plus the craft stuff! Ah!

I also need to plant the irises I pulled this summer. They are going in the shed and around the septic pump thing, but it’s cold in the mornings when I want ito work, and I am not super motivated to work outside. The garden has burned me out.

So I’m blogging as an excuse. Important, right?

New Shed

Jared and I spent the weekend FINALLY putting together his new shed. I found it last year on clearance sale at Walmart.com for $700 off, so I picked it up even though we weren’t ready to put it in yet. It took us until last week to get the concrete pads poured around the house (everyone on the planet is doing home projects during the Rona), so this weekend we were able to get started on the shed.

If you wanna know how the project went, Friday he put the roof trusses together (almost. Stopped before the last one was finished for no reason except he decided he was hungry with like four screws to go), and Saturday I got up to go out and help him. Junk was everywhere — tools and bags of parts in eleventy-five places, panels in no order whatsoever — and I asked him what he wanted me to do.

Me: What’s next?
Him: You can put the floor together.
Me: Is that the next step?
Him: Well, no, but…
Me: (interrupting) Maybe we should read the directions

Lordy me. I swore basically all day Saturday. That shed was SO HARD to put together. The app was NOT good, and it didn’t match the written instructions, which had gotten damaged, so Jared threw them out and didn’t reprint them. It took more than two hours just to get the floor together. I have never put anything together that was so finicky in my entire life. Finally I figured out a way to do it with two cement blocks and some special timing. Once that was done, of course we discovered that a piece had to be turned opposite for the doors to fit (my fault that time), so I we had to take it apart and fix that section. By the end of the day Saturday we had the walls up. Sunday we got the roof and finishing bits on. The shed IS very nice, but wow. I think it took us at least 12 hours, maybe 14 counting his truss work on Friday.

Raising a teenage boy brought back my old habit of swearing (I do feel a little justified in this because people with penises seem to be unable to hear instruction unless peppered with profanity), and I admit it’s just gotten worse. I keep thinking I need to do better and don’t :-) But I don’t think Jesus swears as much as I do, and if I’m going to try and be like Jesus, well, the cussing has to go, dammit.

Kitchen Update

Jared and I spent just over a month updating the kitchen and finished that last week, too. We had the cabinets painted on the day I got back home in July from taking Sydney to USU. It was so nice to have someone else do it, and they did a much better job than I could have (unlike the guy we had paint the walls and trim, who sucked). It was awkward to pick the paint color from 2000 miles away, but I had my paint chips from the walls and used that to pick something that we liked. It’s slightly lighter than I’d prefer — I’d have liked a slightly more saturated blue — but they didn’t have exactly what I wanted, and this color (Moon Mist, by Sherwin Williams) is so bright and cheerful that I just love being in the kitchen now.

I did the caulking and last bit of tile, and Jared got the chimney up on the new range hood last week, so we went shopping to buy some matching kitchen accessories. I bought stuff to make a food prep station (At Home had BLUE KNIVES, ya’ll) and some fake plants to make the space look nice. The kitchen is so happy I actually want to be in there. The only thing left is to redo the floor, but the tile is heated, so I’m just going to paint it rather than replace it. That will be a good winter project. Sydney can help me with it when she gets home from school.

Concrete Poured

We had a time getting concrete folks to come out. Jared got quotes from four different companies and finally picked one, called them back, and they didn’t return his calls. He moved on to the second with the same result, and the third! Finally the first guy called back and said he could come out the next week, and we were so excited! We got the retaining walls poured for the downstairs area, the back patio and steps done, and the pad for Jared’s new shed finished.

We picked up a giant planter for the patio, also from At Home, that is so cool-looking I smile just looking out the window at the empty pot. I can’t wait to get something fun in it.

So my life is one long string of house projects, which will be done sometime within the next year. What will we do then? I don’t even know. I mean, house projects are important and all, but I don’t do anything. I clean sometimes and cook sometimes and schedule stuff for us to do sometimes. He earns all the money. I just…. nothing.

I shouldn’t complain. We have the kids’ college taken care of, thanks to my earning and budgeting over the past years. The only debt we have is the mortgage. The hard work has paid off! But now I don’t have a goal. I’m not sure what to do with myself anymore. I have friends to visit, and I started a Zoom chat with several women in the ward, which has been rewarding. All but one of these women had expressed frustration to me privately about feeling alienated from the ward due to the current political climate, and all were struggling to want to go back. I think many have found this time of at-home church to be a huge relief. Just knowing there are so many of “us”, has made a big difference to these women. We meet once a week to visit. It’s been super nice. I hope that if we can feel a little bit strengthened we can carry that into the ward in the form of a little grace for others. We won’t all agree, and I think that’s fine. But we need to be more open to accepting that others think differently, and it’s okay, even needed.

I have lots, lots more thoughts on this. Maybe that’ll be a blog post later when I’m sick of cleaning out the office….

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I keep up with three cars, two kids, one husband, and I live on 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where we look after an elderly relative. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs as I pursue a graduate degree. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.