Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Popping the Bubble

It's been a strange couple of weeks around here.  I blinked and summer was over (which I say every year....I know) and before I knew it, the boys were starting school.  This year, however, was different.  This year, for the first time in 11+ years, all 3 boys are in school all day.  Five days a week.  There was a time when I dreamed about this day.  That dream usually came after a day of cleaning up more messes than I could count, consoling a crying baby, potty-training a toddler (which we all know is my least favorite mom job ever), cleaning the house, feeding everybody, yada yada.  All at the same time.  All on very little sleep.  Yes....at one time I dreamed about a quiet house, a clean house, with all kinds of time to do what I needed to do and still have time for what I wanted to do.

Then that dream became a reality.
I'm fully rested, my house is clean, and eerily quiet.
I still don't know exactly how I feel about it, but mostly?
I'm not a fan.  I miss my kids.  I'm struggling to find my purpose.
Or rather, to make adjustments to my purpose.

I not only love my kids like crazy, but I really like them too.
I love hanging out with them.  They're fun, and funny, creative....what can I say?
They're pretty cool. ;)

While I have to admit that it's been nice having a little time to myself, there's a big part of me that wishes it wasn't 5 days a week.  More like 2-3 would be perfect.  But I know it won't do them any good to keep them with me constantly, and I know that my job as mom is to teach them in the way they should GO, not the way they should STAY.  To encourage them to make good friends, to find what they love and go after it, to test the waters of life while they're still under our roof. And school is a great way to help teach them what that is all about....at least, in my opinion.
I've blogged a little about Harrison starting middle school last month, and how it was a big decision for us to have him transition to the public school in our neighborhood.  It really wasn't as difficult of a decision for me as I thought it would be.  For one, we live near excellent schools.  The school the little ones go to now (where Harrison did go) is incredible as well.  We've gotten attached to the people there.  I'm friends with a few of the teachers. They are receiving an incredible education there, with smaller classroom sizes, and start each day in praise and worship.  It makes it much easier to drop them off each day.  That place is home for us, so in that respect it was hard to take Harrison out and move him.  BUT.

Yes, there's always a but, isn't there?

Yes, there were reasons behind this move.  For him, it was about not wanting to be the new kid in high school. We completely understood and respected that.  For us, it was about watching him handle real world stuff while he is still under our roof.   And beyond that, it's about giving him opportunities to make a difference where he is, because let's face it, when you're a pastor's kid and go to a Christian school, there's not a whole lot of opportunity for that.  Those are both good things...very good. :) It's just something I have been feeling so conflicted about lately.  The "not having opportunity or people to share Jesus with" thing, to clarify. There's a reason we're here, and I can guarantee it's not to make life all comfy and cozy with our blinders securely in place.  Nope...there's way more to it.

So yes....if it was up to me I would keep the 5 of us in my happy little safe bubble. But it's not up to me, and my bubble isn't doing these boys any good.  Or their mama and daddy.  So I had to pop it.  And that stunk.  It hurt.  It's hard, and I'm constantly having to fight the urge to blow it back up and tuck us all safely back inside.

What I'm having to trust is that they are safer in God's hands than they ever will be with me. That shouldn't be hard to accept, but sometimes it is.

And I'm reminding myself that the magic I tried to create for them as they spent their days home with me, the safe, secure happiness they have come to know as home...well, it's still here.  But now they take a piece of that with them, and hopefully, if I've done my job right, they're creating their own happiness wherever they go. 

Kindergarten drop off was tough this time around around.  With Harrison it was rough because he was my first and I was pregnant with Hunter and swimming in ridiculous amounts of extra hormones. With Hud we were facing the real possibility of moving to GA and I was distracted (or more appropriately, consumed) with those thoughts. It was still sad, but made easier with the knowledge that I still had one more at home with me.  So flash forward to now and my baby is in the middle of his 5th week of school already.

As you can see here, he is loving it.  Thriving, already learning to read, talking about his new friends, loving on all the people he knows from being up there so much with me....it's been a fairly easy transition for him.  A little crankiness (it's HARD being a kindergartner~ those days are long) and he's more emotional than normal, but it will pass, just as it did with his brothers.  His teachers are perfect for him, and that makes leaving him there each day much easier.  We're going to be okay.

The first day of school this year was honestly.....a blur.  I hardly remember any of it.  I got very few pictures.  I was so completely preoccupied by the fact that B was in Honduras for the week that I didn't stop and embrace this moment the way I always thought I would.  If I'm being honest, which, let's face it...this blog is useless without honesty, B's mission trip to Honduras brought with it a paralyzing fear for me that completely blindsided me.  I mean yes....I knew I'd be uneasy about him being out of the country, in a somewhat dangerous city, without the ability to call him or to trust that he'd be able to get in touch with me when necessary.  I knew it'd be hard.  I spent the first couple days worried, but ok.  I had heard from him, knew he'd arrived safely, and had assurance from him that he would call me again before heading out to the mountains the next day.  But that call that night didn't come.  While B had warned me that that could happen...that the cell signal was very weak, but not to worry if he didn't hear from me, I didn't really believe that would happen.  In our 17 years of being together, not one day had gone by that I hadn't at least talked to him on the phone.  Not one. So when the first day went by without any word, and then the second....well, you can assume that I was a mess, and you'd be right.  One hot mess. ;) I had quickly slipped into worst-case scenario mode, and was sure something terrible had happened to him.  Never had I been so thankful for the help that my parents were those first several days, driving out to help me with the boys, and during those couple of days a much-needed encouragement and distraction...keeping me busy, and laughing, and trusting that everything was okay. That Brian was okay. That he would be home soon, and life as I knew it would be back in order. Yes, I am incredibly blessed. :)

And then my person called.  I've talked about her here lots.  Her name is Tomi, and we've been friends since we were 11.  A LOT has happened in those 24 years...the good, the bad, the ugly...and all of it has worked to together to make us one amazing, dysfunctional, fantastic duo.  Or as we like to call ourselves, two sometimes dark and twisty rockstar superheroes, no sidekick. ;) Being apart these past 2 years STINKS.  I don't like it at all.  But amazingly, the distance has made us even better.  I don't know how....I don't understand it, and I want so much to be able to do life with her everyday again.  And I hoping that maybe someday we will....and believing that.  But in the meantime, we're rock solid and I'm so very grateful.

She called me to see how I was doing, and I had a complete come apart.  It was ugly.  I told her that I was scared.  That I had a terrible feeling that something horrible had happened to Brian, and if that was true that I wasn't sure how in the world I would go on without him.  That I had always felt that no matter what else happened that as long as I had him walking beside me we could handle whatever came our way.  Together.  And she took a deep breath, and paused, and then shared this wisdom with me: "my friend...I know this is hard and scary, but if there's anything God has taught me during my journey with him, when I was alone raising Garrett, when I thought none of my dreams were going to be reality, it was that as long as I had Jesus walking beside me that I could handle whatever came my way."


How much truth there was in those words.  How much I needed to hear it...and how very much I still had to learn. We hung up the phone, and I went into my closet, closed the door, and got down on my face before the Lord.  And I prayed for a very long time, and asked Him to forgive me for not trusting Him with EVERY part of me.  For putting my trust in my relationship with B and not in my relationship with Him. I asked Him to protect Brian, to bring him home safely, and to let this experience leave me changed...changed to where I'm relying on Him to get me through and nothing else.  There is nothing better than time spent alone with my Savior....I left that closet renewed, hopeful, trusting. I soaked up the time left with my mom and dad, even more thankful for the sacrifices they made to be here with the boys and me.

The next day I was getting my nails done, and my cell phone rang, showing an unknown number.  I answered it and heard that deep, wonderful voice that I had missed so much the past few days.  I was so caught up with relief, and love, and thankfulness that I almost couldn't respond to him, but finally did.  And we laughed, and he assured me that all was well, that they were returning to the main city a day early because of rain that would have prevented them from getting out of the mountains if they had waited.  I silently thanked God for protecting him as we talked, and hung up the phone considerably more relaxed than when I had answered it.

A couple days later the boys and I drove to church to pick him up. :)

We were so very happy to have him back home with us, and wanted to make sure he knew how much he was missed.

Never had I been happier to see this face...to see these four posing just like this. :)

So yes, God was faithful to return him to us.  But I had a new understanding that if things had gone differently He STILL would have been faithful to take care of us.  That if the worst happened, that it would be horrible....my nightmare come true....but He would be with me all the way.  No, of course this is not something I ever want to dwell on, and it's something I'm going to have to fight against again I'm sure, because I'm human and it's inevitable....but I'm thankful knowing that I am never alone.  That His plan is indeed perfect.  That this world is not our home.

 Boys in school, husband traveling the world for Jesus.  Me trying to keep it together for all of them at home.  Bubble popped.  What should by the world's standards leave me feeling vulnerable and unsure is instead leaving me feeling at peace, resting in the fact that He always goes before us.  He is showing us how to be light in an otherwise dark world.  And through Him we are making a difference to others...loving on them, encouraging them, praying for them.  Bubble popped, eyes opened...here we go. :)