I have been thinking about time and how things happen that change us. We can never go back and be who we were before. Change is painful and humbling. It is beautiful, too. Change can wake us and open us–as long as we roll with it and not resist.
About five years ago, the universe pushed me in a drastic new direction. After being committed to homeschooling and full-time mothering for a long time, I suddenly knew that Mia needed to start school, that Anna would start preschool, and I would start grad school. The decision was made overnight, and we just did it.
Hard times came along with that change. It was tight and stressful during those years. There was grief. There was focus. Alan and I got hit with pneumonia. We sold our house and moved. We lost three beloved pets. We lost great-grandma. I left the church. Our marriage was challenged like never before.
Work, internship and classes consumed my life for a while. I struggled to maintain the relationship with my children that I’d had before the change. I intensely processed my childhood and the repressed parts of me that had to be faced.
Tremendous storms passed through with crises in my family of origin and with my best friend.
My dad got cancer.
My ideals were shattered, and one by one, I learned to let a lot of them go. I learned to ask for help and accept it more graciously. I learned to forgive and embrace imperfection. I gained weight. My health suffered a bit. I broke.
And, I kept moving–we kept moving.
We were on a little boat in the ocean, heading in a general direction but not always knowing where we were or if we would make it. Sometimes, we had to hang on to that boat for dear life, waiting for the storms to pass.
We’ve now reached the shore. We’re a bit weathered and rough, but have stepped out of the boat and are resting on dry, soft land. It is lovely. It is sun and warmth and fresh air and a sky full of stars.
I think I can safely say this now: we survived.
As a family, we might be more in love with each other and more grateful than we were before. We’re back together again, grounded and committed in a new way. We have been washed clean with a good, heavy rain.
My children remember the hard times, and sometimes I feel badly about that. “You were so crabby when you were working full-time,” they remind me. “We used to read books every night.”
Most of the time, though, I’m glad they remember. Yes, I was crabby. I still am, although less so. We read books again, or at least we read more consistently. My children saw me at my worst, and so did I. And at the same time, they saw me at my best.
And my husband? He just loves me. He loves us. He has weathered the storms with grace and loyalty. I think I’ve seen him at his best, but not yet at his worst. I don’t think he has a “worst.” He has been kind, accepting, and encouraging through it all.
We’ve been roughed up a bit, but just enough–without damaging the softness inside. That softness inside has only grown. Both the roughness and the softness will carry us through the storms that lie ahead.
And there will always be storms.
Anna, enjoying one of the many snowstorms this year brought us.