There have been other winters that have bumped and dragged me along slowly and painfully, like an old doll at the end of a string. Those kinds of winters come with their own set of difficulties, scratches, and bruises.
This winter has felt different, and in the midst of being painful still, it has felt more promising, like the pain of healing, like just maybe I might be learning how to move my limbs and walk of my own accord.
In the middle of January I told my husband clearly and without hesitation that I could not homeschool anymore. I shared that for a very long time, life itself felt like being required to swim the English Channel in the midwinter dark, and motherhood felt like having to do the swimming with an angry cat on my head, struggling to keep both of us afloat. Neither my son Oliver nor I were thriving. I was angry, depressed, and overwhelmed...nearly all of the time. I was not a safe haven for my family in the storm of life-- I was the storm, and I wanted everything to change. Chad, who really is just the best thing, tenderly received my hurting heart in love, reminded me that I am God's beautiful creation, and said we'd do whatever we needed to do to find healing through this.
That Monday, my husband put in his two week notice at work, to stay home and take over the homeschooling and to pursue web design and woodworking, a longtime desire. We had some savings that would give us some breathing room for a few months, while we all figured out the next step for supporting one another and finding the place the Lord had for each of us to thrive and flourish, whatever that might look like.
I could feel deeply that our setup wasn't working but I didn't understand why it wasn't working. For years, I had done all the things I thought I was supposed to be able to do-- become a stay at home wife and mother, homeschool, and spend lots and lots of time with my child. Those were the best things, weren't they? That was what my own mother did, what my friends were doing. What was I doing wrong...what was wrong with me?
I went to see my friend who is a counselor (I wish everyone could have an actual real-life counselor in their circle of friends; mine is a true gift), and she shared with me a perspective that I had never realized might actually apply to me personally: there isn't one right way to do life. A mother staying home with her children day in and day out was normal to me, but that didn't mean it was going to be right for my family. She suggested that this was a turning point in our family story, and that I might need to step back from the "extras" in my life while I focused on healing and quiet.
So I relaxed into a quiet season, and now here we are in the second week of March. Oliver and Chad have gotten into a routine with Oliver's studies, I have been seeing an understanding and helpful counselor (turns out I'm more ordinary than I thought--somewhat of a relief, but slightly disappointing), and I began practicing yoga at a studio in town and absolutely love it. I have been reading and writing more than usual and have taken this time to sift and sort our possessions, letting go of what does not serve our purposes.
Honestly, I don't know what the coming months hold for us--I thought I had ten more years of the same ol' thing before I got to figure out what to do with myself when Oliver left the nest, but as the Scriptures say, man makes his plans, but the Lord directs his steps. As I mentioned in my last post, the details of our lives are up in the air, but being united to and walking in the love of Christ is our point of orientation, not the plans that we have made for ourselves or the way we thought things would turn out.
I want to share with you some insight from these last weeks in future posts, but I make no promise except to write as I'm able. I have been thinking a lot about my introversion (it's not going away!) and how "okay" it is to be who I really want to be, about possessions and lifestyle, about acceptance and the idea of accomplishing less, and about what it takes to align an environment with one's inner life and needs and how I might come alongside others to help them accomplish this in their own lives.
I've also been thinking about working outside the home again, but I don't have a lot of leads on that one-- anyone have suggestions for meaningful work for an INFJ who enjoys writing and taking moody, detail-oriented nature photographs, has over a dozen years of free-lance vocal experience in the studio, a love of fine children's literature, experience designing and contracting a smallish house, and one dinky old semester of university to her name? Other areas of expertise include internet research, tea drinking, connecting with young children, and ninja-like budgeting moves. (Got the perfect job? Get in touch-- I'm your girl!)
Stay afloat; the journey isn't over yet, and we're all in it together. Love to all.