|This must be what writing a boring blog after the kids go to bed looked like in 1901.|
On Thursday it will be one month since IC and DJ's first day of school. E started his classes for this semester a week after them. Surveying everything that has changed since then, I think that I am finally starting to see all of this come together into that magical comforting place I call a routine. I am a very regimented person, but unfortunately that is not the type of life I live, as much as I try to make it work that way. I am a homemaker, which is a term I prefer over "stay at home mom" because it sounds more active and intentional. My job as such is to serve as the manager for the day to day needs of four other people, each with a great difference in what those needs actually are. The problem is that my desire for routine leads me to try to set things up for myself so that I can take care of each one's needs proactively, but three of these four who I care for change on a daily basis, and change their lives completely every few months. I've mentioned in the past that I have really struggled with finding any sort of comfort zone with my husband's schedule ever since he started nursing school a year ago. The difficult part about E's life and IC's life and DJ's life is that they are always changing. It takes me the full sixteen weeks of E's semester to get comfortable with when he's here and when he isn't, and to know how I should react to both. Then, of course, the semester ends, and it changes again. IC's and DJ's changes revolve around the changing seasons of after-school activities. Currently I am trying to figure out how to balance our weekday evenings: Mondays- no activities, but double homework to prepare for Tuesday; Tuesdays- get dinner on the table before kids arrive home, pick up kids, feed them dinner, straight to soccer, then bring IC and HT home while E takes DJ to cub scouts; Wednesdays- 1st and 3rd of the month- allow E to care for kids while I attend church, 2nd and 4th of the month- take IC to brownies, every week it's double homework to prepare for Thursday, etc. It makes my head spin. I'm realizing though that there are a few things that I can rely on that will probably be present everyday. Everyday, E will get up as soon as the first child wakes up, even if I offer to let him sleep in like a bajillion times. Every night E will claim he has to stay up and study when instead he will fall asleep on the couch and accomplish nothing.
In all of this I always put my own desires about how to spend my time last. I am not whining; I do this by choice. It is simply easier for me to know that I am caring for my family if I know that I at least can be the flexible one, even though I am the last person you would describe as being flexible. None of my plans are ever set in stone. I am not a martyr, because I do my best to keep careful track of my most pressing needs and when necessary I will take care of them. I don't skip meals, I catch a nap or sleep in when I'm feeling sleep deprived, and I chat on facebook or attend a church event when I need some social time. But if those particular boxes are filled or close to filled, I move on and continue to manage everyone else.
Generally I'm perfectly content this way, but never for very long, because sooner or later something will start to itch. Sometimes music calls me, and I feel as if I will never be satisfied with my life again until I can start taking voice lessons again or sing with a professional choir. Other times it's travel, something I have never done. Lately I've been getting the itch to move again; thinking that if I don't get out of this city and experience a new place, like, tomorrow, I will never be able to go on. Today the writing bug bit me, and it's itching.
My women's Bible study group labored over the choice of a new book to read this morning, and happily they chose a book that I suggested, Breathe by Keri Wyatt Kent, who is one of my favorite authors. I was excited about it, although of course there was the necessary side dish of guilt ("Did I push it too much? What if everyone hates it and it's a waste of their time?"). Anyway, I hadn't checked out Keri's facebook page or website recently so I took a quick glance and ran into something kind of new and that's when the bug got me. Keri and twelve other female writers have founded the Redbud Writers' Guild, a group dedicated to "fearlessly expanding the feminine voice in our churches, communities, and culture". My heart was clicking my internal "like" button a million times when I saw it. I read through a few pages of blog posts from the members, all so different, yet all so thought-provoking and reflective. Oh the joy that would be mine to belong to such a circle, to have my words read and respected with the likes of these. And then I noticed that one can actually apply to join this sacred circle. My heart was dancing. A writer! Me! I want to join! Ooo, Ooo, pick me, pick me!
Stop, deep breath. You are a lowly blog writer who has a whopping eight followers, only one of whom it not a personal friend (and thank you to that one, you give me hope!). You write your blog at around midnight on the nights you even get that far, and you fight to stay awake while you do it. You will never be eligible for this. I looked at the membership application, and it is pretty certain that I do not have the prerequisite experience for this group. There was a large space where one was to list all the books and articles she has published in the past. Although the button at the top of this page does say "publish", I doubt that a free blog is what they have in mind. I have never published so much as a classified ad.
No matter, I will have to start small and dream big. That's the advice I'd give one of my children. Figure out how I get there from here. Take the first step, write the blog, and explore ways of getting it out there. But where? I'm not even ready for that question yet. The bigger question for me is when. Maybe I want to write because I am imagining these ladies sipping tea on their porches and typing on their laptops while they listen to the birds and smell the flowers. I don't even drink tea. I don't even have a laptop, now that E has commandeered the one we own for his schoolwork. I write on an iMac that is situated between the kitchen table and the Jumperoo. Yeah, I am so not a writer. Just like I was never a singer, or a missionary. So many intentions, so much time spent gearing myself up to take the first step, but questioning in which direction I should go.
But I'm not ready to stop believing that any of these things could happen to me. Heck, all of them. I did sort of manage to bundle them all together in the ethnomusicology program I was doing. But how do I break this down so that I can know what God is trying to tell me with all these desires to do things that right now seem so vague and beyond my reach? What is it that I really want to do?
I want to speak (or write) words that someone will hear or read, and it will change their life. I want to look someone in the eye and offer them the love of God, like a gift wrapped up and given just for them. I want to do things, say things, and write things that will shift someone's perspective so that they will think deeper, see God's love for them clearer, and love themselves more in the process. I want to offer someone mercy and encouragement, even if I will never completely understand their situation or their struggle. I just want to love someone.
And just like that, just as I type it out, I realize that I do that everyday. Maybe it's not on the scale that I dream of, and it's not in the format that I would like to speak from, and maybe I don't succeed all the time. Maybe I need more practice. But I do all those things. I do them when I explain to IC that the reason she must try the Trader Joes potstickers I made for dinner is not only because she will be rewarded with a restaurant trip on Friday, but also because eating a variety of healthy foods is essential to her body feeling healthy so that she can do all the things she wants to do. I do them when I button up DJ's cub scout uniform while he's changing his clothes in the car, and I tell him that I can't wait to see all the exciting things he will learn and do this year. I do them when I hold HT after he suffers yet another bump on the head from his overly eager efforts at learning to walk. I do them when I remind E that he will make mistakes as a nurse, and that yes, his mistakes could kill someone, but that even then he needs to be able to go on and still know that he is good at what he does and that he does it out of a God-given desire to care for others. There's four people right there, over and over again, in one day. I'm not saying that this satisfies all these itches that I keep getting, but it does tell me that one day I will accomplish grander things, because right now I have these four people to practice on. And most of the time, these four people seem pretty happy, and feel pretty loved, so maybe I'm doing a good job.