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Mama Mondays: A Look Back.

Almost 10 years ago: She’s 2 years old and he’s 3 months old.


Last week: She is 11 years old and he is 9 years old.

In the top photo, #4 is “reading” to #5. She has memorized the book from me reading it to her about 367 times a day.

In the bottom photo, #4 is helping #5 read. From the second floor, I hear him sounding out words. I peek over and she is there patiently helping him.

There is nothing more sobering and calming than looking at photos of your kids when they were little especially if you have teenagers or young adults. Looking back is an amazing way to gain perspective, to stop for two seconds to see what has stayed the same and what has changed so much you can’t even believe that was your story.

Over the last few weeks, I have been in love with my blog again. I am reading the posts with equal doses of gratitude and nostalgia. I look back to gain perspective of how far we have travelled, how life led me to where I am, and for some clues.

More on the mystery later.

I have fallen deeply in love with reading my story, our story even though there is a little gap.* It’s like re-living a life that I know I lived but it’s incredible to be able to be reminded of the details through some of my more astute observations.

I can’t describe to you what it’s like to read about the fears I once had, the risks I took, and now to come out on the other side. I can read these posts and almost hear my unease and uncertainty with motherhood and then with homeschooling. It was all and still is a grand experiment.

“These handwritten words in the pages of my journal confirm that from an early age I have experienced each encounter in my life twice: once in the world, and once again on the page.” 

― Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice

I do have my handwritten journal for my eyes only but this blog also serves this purpose – to encounter my life again and again, reading between the lines and counting the blessings with the perfect vision of hindsight.

I read and remember the overwhelm, the confusion, the hilarity. I remember the triumphs and the crushing defeats too. There were so many days when I made mistakes and failed terribly only to be welcomed with forgiving arms to try again.

Some are hard to read like this one.  It was the beginning of seeing the future a little, of imagining a time when we would no longer travel as a pack of 7 all of the time. Right after that, I read this one where I finally said the real goodbye.

And this one when we left our old house for the last time had the tears streaming.

Some posts make me laugh like the one when we found out #5 was a boy.  

Or ones that both make me laugh and also remind me of what’s important like this one on focus.

Some posts make me cry at the amount of wisdom bottled up in a child like this one where I learned so much about life in that moment.

Some posts remind me that life is just a continuous cycle repeating events in the most ironic ways like this one when I injured myself similar to my husband’s recent knee injury.

Some posts were series that I worked hard to write: homeschooling, homeschool planning, parenting adolescence, and motherhood.

Others were creative projects: 42 days of gratitude, 100 scribbles that morphed into my Book of Hours project, my prompts on Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto, my MAYbe project, and my handful of love notes (I never quite got to 100).

If you read through these series and projects, you will notice a few things:

  1. If there is a large theme, I like to break it up over several days and try my best to be as specific and detailed as I can in suggesting courses of action.
  2. I love creative projects that marry writing, reflection, and visual arts.
  3. I complete my creative projects that I set out to do on this blog. I offer a ton of resources, suggestions, points of exploration and connection.**
  4. I share for selfish reasons. I believe we are all here to walk each other home as Ram Dass says. Through sharing personally here, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many that helped guide and walk with me along the way and I fully give them credit.

Back to the clues that I alluded to at the top of this post. At first I searched through my posts for nostalgic reasons, and then I stumbled on one that made me stop and get excited.

One post made me stop as if I wanted to thank this woman for writing this down. How did she know? How did she know she would one day sit where I am sitting right now? Seriously, I have to thank myself for writing it down.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.” 

Anais Nin

Encountering myself and the message from 10 years ago threw me for a loop but also made me realize why I did it, why I showed up here, why I laid it out without thought to the “why” only that it had to be recorded. Reading this post gave me the advice I needed to hear and inspired me to do something to push my comfort zone (again).

Looking back, in the end, helped me appreciate today and guide me for the future. Take a moment and look at some old pictures, journals, and letters. Can you look at it ALL with gratitude?

***

NEXT blog post: The post that gave me an AHA moment and the mystery I solved in the process…

*There is a gap in my writing – Feb 2011 to Sept 2013. Those posts were deleted when we forgot to pay for the web hosting. We were able to save them on a hard drive but I haven’t had the time to load them back onto the blog.

**Two exceptions have been the 100 love note project which in the end became too heavy to write because I wasn’t at my most witty and humourous in the midst of upending our life, nor did I post all of my MAYbe creations in the MAYbe journal but I did give 31 days of prompts and project ideas, I do complete my projects.


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