Life’s phases

As a young bride-to-be, I listened with wide eyes as the older ladies at the cheerleader sewing factory chatted around me. The young married women talked about adapting recipes, preparing meals and finding babysitters. The older women’s conversations focused on grandchildren, community projects and activities. Each reflected a different phase of married life.
The first few years of marriage I focused on setting up housekeeping, figuring out what we like to eat, buy, do together. My own pre-occupation with finding, discovering and trying out rich, calorie laden desserts has been replaced with research for variations of heart-healthy salads.
The early years of parenting I spent long hours reading books, playing games and teaching children. All too soon the children began reading their own books, finding other game partners and pushing away my help saying, “I can do it by myself.”
The mom-taxi phase lasted until the youngest child went off to college and left the debris of childhood behind.
My husband and I went through our empty nest phase, carefully tucking aside everything they once used. But of late, we have been shifting into the retirement phase and cleaning house. My husband emptied our attic of everything, added lighting and organized storage space for our stuff. I joined him in re-vamping the house, sorting out the accumulated clutter and encouraging our children – who now each have their own homes – to take their collection of toys, books, college texts and old favorite things.
With each box sorted, we remembered the phases of their childhood: The years when the boys became building engineers with Legos and Tinker Toys, the too short of time when my daughter collected dwarf dolls, years when stuffed animals held a high priority and the baseball card collecting years which consumed their spending money and conversations.
My own interests have shifted. The empty house and empty evening hours provide me with plenty of time to work on cross stitch and quilting projects. Similarly, my sisters have plunged into quilting, knitting or crocheting projects. None of us leave the house without hauling along a bag holding our current needlework project.
And the circle has come full round. This year my daughter entered a new stage of life with her first pregnancy. She quizzes me over and over about labor, delivery and demand versus timed feeding schedules. Should she let the baby cry? Surely 45 minutes is too long, but how about five minutes?
She does not know what to expect. I promise her, she will do fine and will, in time, develop her own style.
And inwardly I am gloating – the teenage, know-it-all years have ended! I have entered the stage of being the older wiser woman – the one sought for advice. I intend to fully enjoy this phase – until she starts telling me how to burp a baby.
For those who want to know Elijah Schulte was born Oct. 4 at 8:30 a.m. He weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces and was 22 inches in length.
(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. She can be reached at






7 responses to “Life’s phases”

  1. j_bo Avatar


    congrats on the newest member of the hershberger clan!

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    reader responds

    Carolyn Smith, Norphlet… sent me the following comment.

    I do not care for canned peaches but my husband was raised on a dairy farm..When we were first married and his dad knew we were coming home he would save up real cream as thick as bought sour cream. When we got there he would sweeten it with sugar and serve it on canned peach halves with hard store bought oatmeal cookies…what a treat.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Your mother doesn’t leave anything to the imagination when it comes to personal family issues, yes?

    But, I LOVE the “[Jeremy] can really enjoy a good Monopoly game — even if he has to play against himself sometimes” as Daniel is, right now (and for the umpteenth time) playing against himself in chess.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Re: What will you do when it’s your turn?

    Don’t know if I answered this,but we are trying to stay healthy and praying to maintain a cheerful, cooperative attitude.

    Part of Dad’s grumpiness is all too typical for many stroke victims. My daughter says she will take care of me, and that I can come around, but we’ll see what reality hits when the time comes.

    I have friends who have a cheerful, complacent, fairly healthy older family member living with them … and they long for time to themselves – and she has her own separate attached apartment. It is wearing even in the best of situations to have someone else in the home needing that bit more of watch care and help.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    more money

    This story continues to be updated. As of today the amount is $68 million and reaches 10 schools — all have a woman in leadership, which might be one clue to the resource.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    for June 8

    I wrote this to be published in our local paper on June 8, so the date is a bit off when I posted it, but this is the day when I post the column I write each week.

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    sent to my e-mail

    from Melvin Hibbard: Well written. I enjoyed the memories.

    From Robin LaRue: Joan,
    A short response to say I enjoyed your writing of ‘home’, Steuben County, N.Y. It brought to my mind days of old when bicycling the rough dirt and weed hills now known as Greencroft in Goshen, remembering the haunted old County Historical building where you were greeted by a huge bison head when opening the front door. My family owned little to nothing – no farms, no proprities, but I do remember the ‘Gladiola Lady’ in her horse drawn buggy coming down 5th street selling her large, gorgeous flowers. IN has its Amish, fading, waning but still fertile and always adapting to ‘society’, yet retaining the ‘ban’. What IN has lost and which many are still in morning- her giant forest’s, deep, magnificent, her wetlands, clean and clear rivers and streams and much more. Thankfully there are good souls in the preservation business.
    Maybe somewhere in your families territory, there is an old occupiable house during summer months, somewhere along those rolling hills, quiet pasture land where one could sit and write a bit. Any way, thanks. Robin