Thursday, February 9, 2017

Adaptations



So we launched in. I made lunches and kids woke early and we somehow made it in plenty of time. People smiled. The kids shyly slid into their seats. I walked back to my empty car and drove away.

I think I expected to feel something different than I did, but it didn't come. I expected a sharp stabbing pain of loss - but it didn't happen.

Instead I woke on Wednesday feeling a little off and, after spending the afternoon in the emergency room for chest pain and shortness of breath, was sent home with the diagnosis of pneumonia. Because nothing can ever be easy. Not the first week of a major life change. That coupled with some things not working out the way I thought they would (only 3 kids attending school instead of the 5 I had planned on), and instead of loss and sadness I've been feeling a bit whipped around. A lot disoriented. Not sure what to do going forward, but also limping along with something new and strange and uncomfortable. I had hoped this would be a chance to catch my breath, a chance to claim some clarity, a chance to make some decisions with strength and decisiveness. Instead, I mostly feel pulled in a million directions, driven to distraction by information overload and the after shock of a major change.

In so many ways, we traded one type of complicated for another. I muddle through day after day here, each just as chaotic as the next and wonder - is this really better? And I'm not sure. From that first dash to get the kids out the door to the homework struggles amidst laundry piles later in the day and all the toddler preschool disasters in between, it's honestly just as nuts - maybe even more. The kids are doing so well although it has been and continues to be an adjustment for each and every one of us.

My Mama always used to say, "no matter where you go, there you are," and I think it applies here. I think perhaps I thought school might be the magic wand waved over my life that filtered things into neat little manageable piles. Instead, I'm still very much me. Chaotic. Tumultuous. High tempered and hopelessly disorganized.

Still, I'm finding a reassuring strength in trying something new. In swallowing down nerves and going to conferences with teachers and facing that hesitancy of putting my heart in their hands with gritted teeth and marked determination. Maybe that's the important thing? Parts of all of us are growing in ways we weren't before. At the end of the day, even when I didn't get to the things that I would in the ways I thought I should, I can count that as good. I'm stepping out and doing hard things I never thought I could before, just like my kids.

That's something, after all.




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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

School, Change and Identity



On Monday morning, everything changes.

The beginning of a new week always feels that way. It's funny, this kind of arbitrary system we all agreed on. that Monday is the start. The beginning. Something new, something fresh. Something different. Like we're slipping off the garment of everything that came before and stepping into the stark light of something unknown.

On Monday morning, everything changes.

For the first time ever, my kids are going to school. There are so many decisions and thoughts and feelings and questions that go along with that, but there it is. Truth be told, I don't really know how to talk about it yet. It's a cautious and delicate thing I'm sure will take me quite a while to unwrap for myself, much less others. All I know for today is that God is good and this feels right and I know they'll be fine. As for me, well...

Not unlike when I made the choice to greet Maggie in the hospital instead of at home, my wonderful friends rush in with reassurance. And, in the same way, I'm not sure it will help. Yes, I know teachers love children and the school is a wonderful place. Yes, I know my kids will be well looked after, will make friends, will love it there. Yes, I know, everything will be alright. Yes, yes.

And yet.

There's a sort of humility in opening ourselves up to change - yes, even right down to the things staked our identity on. Homeschooling was one of those things, for me. A part of me from my own first day as a homeschooled kid, through the 9 years I taught my own kids in my own home. I keep myself busy getting them ready but deep down there's a little whisper growing louder all the time, something insistent that demands to be heard. Something keening, muffled but there all the same. Something I'll have to deal with, sooner or later. A little bit of heartbreak.

I don't know what tomorrow brings. Or next Fall, or ten years from now. I don't know how a house feels without the big kids home, or really what we're going to do with ourselves. Maybe it's just a season, or maybe I'm taking one last look at what life was like once upon a time. I don't know.

I'm still learning, after all this time, that aligning my self worth and identity with man made labels and tags is a fools errand. Who I truly am isn't something that can be changed so easily. It follows me through all the twists and turns life takes and sticks close to me on the darkest of days. Eternally loved, emphatically chosen.

So, on Monday morning, I'll pack lunches and hug the people who I love more than anything on this planet and feel along the razor sharp edge of love and pain and growth and change. Believing that this could be the start of something beautiful, bursting through what was before.


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Frailty




She finally slipped off to sleep at 5:45, that feverish little one who would be comforted with nothing but me. I lie awake, listening to her labored breathing and feeling every moment of that sleepless night with every fiber of my being.

There comes a time in everyone's life when they experience frailty. Perhaps due to pregnancy and birth I've glimpsed it more than someone my age might, but I'm thinking on it more and more as the days go by. As I sit in a doctor's office and ask could there be a reason for this exhaustion? As I read the results of the blood tests and swallow hard with the realization that this might just be my new normal. There's nothing "wrong" with me, my doctor explains. I'm just a tired, overworked Mama, burning the candle at both ends. It turns out, there's nothing he can do for me. Frailty. A part of life.

I'm sipping morning coffee on the couch, feet tucked up under me, hands snaking around the radiant warmth of the biggest mug I own. A morning ritual of grasping for straws. Maybe if I wake a bit earlier, caffeinate a bit more...maybe then? Get a nap, do some yoga, something? I find rest where I can, although it never seems to be enough, just a drop in the bucket of my greedy human need.

December comes around this year and for the first time I can remember, I regard it indifferently. Without stress, yes, but without anticipation, too. I order Advent candles on amazon, pick up gold coins at the grocery store and scan the Christmas wish lists the kids stick to the fridge. I am out of energy. If Christmas is going to require anything more of me, well, it will be sorely disappointed. I'm just one a person. A little, tired person. A plaintive prayer. I'm doing all I can do. One little human life. The anti-superwoman.

God knows a little something about frailty. When I remember, I can feel the tension I am carrying around release a little bit. Frailty is a part of life and He put it on when He came for us. To enter fully into humanity is to enter fully into helplessness, poverty of body and soul. God did that to give us something better. Redemption for the least of these by becoming one first, and pouring the richness of who He is into every one of us.

The kids start to wake up and I know today will be intense and long, loud and difficult, that I will not, never, be able to do it all, be everything I want to be. But every act of service is a prayer and every sacrifice counted. God knows frailty. He understands and extends bountiful grace to cover every part of me. The weak and the strong, the stubborn, the brave, the fearful, the exhausted. He knows, feels and holds all of my frailty. And it is enough.

Littles are shouting breakfast orders and I'm so, so tired. But so full, happy and blessed with this common, simple, fragile, rich life.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9



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