(From this silhouette, it seems that I am in dire need of a haircut. Sigh.)
It’s been awhile. There’s a few reasons that I have been MIA here in bloggity-blogosphere.
1. Summer took over. It seduced me right into a magical lull and whisked me away from here. This blog. This headspace. It reached out and grabbed me by the collar and said, “Go outside and get off that blasted computer.” Other times it was a barely audible whisper, nudging me to the beach, to read, and to leave the city from time to time. I maintained my morning ritual but just didn’t squeak out time to write here.
Glad to be back. I missed this space but the summer provided exactly what I needed, what my family needed.
Each summer I think it’s going to be the last I have where all 7 of us will spend most of our time together. I know I am on the edge of a place where I will find myself without our oldest. It is within sight. And each summer, it looms over me – this dread of encountering the end of an era. This year she hopped on a plane again by herself and travelled to North Carolina. We drove down and picked her up and had one of the best road trips we’ve ever had as a family of 7. Lots of highs and lows. But the kids are still reminiscing fondly over specific moments from the trip. Always the sign of a trip much needed and loved. We also had lovely cottage time with friends. I am very grateful for their generosity and hospitality. I’m pretty sure they don’t know how much they are appreciated. There was lots of extended family time and transformative moments with dear friends who I am also grateful for. The richness of summer consumed me and my senses were on fire.
2. Planning, planning, and more planning. Planning took over me for the last couple of weeks of August. Many types of planning – creating new family rhythms on paper, personal goals, and homeschooling.
Summer was spent paying attention at a leisurely pace. The kids were largely left toward their own devices and we frequently picked up and spontaneously enjoyed outdoor activities. Towards the end of the summer, they came a little undone. (Let’s be real: We all came a little undone.) I missed our regular meals together and bedtimes. I could see that they missed knowing what to expect each day. The “What are we doing today?” question started off as a curious and exciting question at the beginning of the summer and turned into a fearful and anxious one by the end.
Our family had grown a little older and the children’s capacities and interests changed. I realized that I needed to shift our rhythms a bit from last September. I had to account for a morning ritual of mine that I can’t let go because it works so well. I had to account for how to educate our high schooler because she wanted me to teach certain subjects since I am far more interesting of a teacher than her online courses ended up being (Have I told you how much I love that girl?). I had to account for an older youngest child who needed a little more structure in the morning to feel like he was “going to school” just like big sisters. I was able to sort through and study each child and what they needed and have come up with a rhythm that our family can work with.
(Tomorrow, I will provide a more detailed post on my planning process because there is a lot that I have worked out for myself over the last few years trying to adjust to different schedules and personal rhythms.)
3. Writing for Sense of Story. My writing has been focused on my other project, Sense of Story. I have had this amazing experience of getting completely enamoured and wonderfully lost in our latest themes: the Five Senses and the Sense of Individuality. My creative output, these past few months, and writing energy has been directed to my contributions to this blog. I am grateful that I have had these obligations and responsibilities, and two lovely (and very patient) ladies who keep me accountable. Without this outlet, I probably would have given up on writing blaming lack of focus, not being in “the mood,” and just not wanting to sit and write because there are a thousand other things on my to-do list that need to get done. But see the thing is, I always feel great after I finish something. Because of the safe and supportive atmosphere on Sense of Story, I can write uninhibited and just tell my story. I know that my articles aren’t masterpieces, and are probably littered with grammatical errors and run-on sentences- my favourite, but I’m just happy that I am able to create. Period.
And now that summer is coming to a close and the fall-type weather is forcing a transition in me whether I like it or not, I am now sitting to write everyday. (Meaning: you will probably find me here more.)
4. Struggling with what I want to share. I often want to tell stories of what my family has been up to and the neat things the kids have taken an interest in but I always stop myself. In fact, I have just looked in the drafts section of my blog and realize that I have half a dozen posts relating to cool things that my kids and I have stumbled upon or things that we’ve done together that I haven’t published. Why? Because we’ve had a great summer. An awesome summer. I personally had a summer where for the first time, I paid attention and not worried about what comes next.
Okay, I know you are little confused. But here’s the thing. I know a lot of people who have not had a great summer. And I’m sure there are many of you out there who feel like it was a complete crap-fest that was full of difficulty and strife. I’ve had those summers. And when I have had one of those summers, I have rarely found myself wanting to hear about someone else’s super-fantastic summer without wanting to punch them in the face.
That’s pretty much it: I felt that blogging about “the greatest summer ever” would just come across as bragging. (And nobody likes a show-off.) And this is where the trickiness of being public about our life enters the deal. I show you snippets. I want to share fun stuff in case you need some ideas for fun stuff. I want to share challenges that I am having because maybe someone out there is having the same challenges and we can work it out together. I want to share light bulb moments here because maybe it will give someone a light bulb moment too.
So how do I share the good without being gross about it? (As I write this question, I just want to delete it. I am making an assumption about you. I’m sorry about that. I know a lot of you aren’t like that. I’m going to leave it in because it’s an honest flaw that I have – I often feel guilty when I’m happy but I am working on that as you may have read about that here.)
Here is what I can do. I can tell the truth. I can tell the truth as I see it. I can only share my experience which is in fact completely mine and not yours. I can refrain from editing the gory details of plans that go awry. I can be real about my insecurities and my triumphs. I can accept that some things I say may rub people the wrong way or cause people to make assumptions about me. I can also remind myself I just want to tell my story and how I see the world around me.
And I can remind you, dear reader, to celebrate your own different and diverse family stories too. My life story has brought me to where I am right now. When you see pictures and stories of our family taking time to travel and precious homeschooling moments, there is always more to the story. There are back stories to everything. As a family, we have journeyed on this road less travelled for a long time and we have the scars to show for it. (For more details, please read my blog posts from November 2009 when we were coping (and just trying to survive) our life with 5 young children. I love reading those to remember what our life had looked like in those early days of no sleep.)
It has been a slow process of guess-and-test, changes in perception, winging it, intense doubting, and many many prayers to a Higher Being.
I will be aiming for short-and-sweet posts: updating our days and sharing any tidbits that I discover or learn that may just help you with your own family journey too. Sometimes the post might be a story or an activity to share or a random thought I had or to recommend a great book that is rocking my world right now. Who knows.
But I just want to write it all down because some day, my kids will want to remember what this hoopla, our three-ring circus, was all about (and perhaps I can remind people to swing from the trapeze from time to time, to tame those lions, and that you will survive jumping through those hoops).
Thanks for reading.
(Oh and I always love to hear your thoughts, especially when I have said something useful…)