Thursday, September 19, 2013

Raw edges


I've been wondering a lot lately.

Does writing a blog like this mean that I'm pretending things in my life are polished nicely or finished, somehow?

I hope not. I don't think it has to be that way, not necessarily...I know I have let you all in on some piles of dirty laundry and lapses in parenting and less-than-perfect celebrations here. Our life is just our life. It's not particularly polished, but our philosophy has always been to just invite the people that matter to join us in the middle of it, even if it's not tidy.

Does writing a blog like this mean that I am tempted not to write when things seem very open-ended, unresolved and unraveled around the edges? 

Probably. Most stories are better with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm in the middle of living this life, but I'm also curating it. If I'm being honest with myself (and with you), when I feel like things are especially unfinished, I'm likely to save those stories for a time when they are better developed.

So why haven't I been writing lately?

I've been busy. Reading. Running. Printing out sets of animal sorting cards for SuperSam to classify and laminating them with clear contact paper. Looking for new ways to cook lentils. Listening to the Twinkle Variations on repeat with my aspiring violinist. Playing with math manipulatives. Helping The Sisters take off and put on their baby dolls' clothes over and over again. Making rosaries.

The thing is, I'm always busy. I started this blog when my twins were not yet four months old. It's not as if I have ever had uninterrupted time to write here.

I think the real reason I haven't been writing is because writing is naturally reflective. It holds a mirror up in front of my life, showing me just what I look like there in the middle of it...and right now, it's a mess.

When any family has its first Kindergartner, there is always a transition, a shift in intention. I'm not sure why I expected it would be any different for our family. Homeschooling has required a shift in my attention. We are in transition, all of us, as we work out what it means for our family to do school at home and in our community instead of in a school building. We don't know what it looks like yet. It's a new creation, something we're birthing...and just as in birth, there's a period of transition as we try to figure out how to make it work.

Transition. Great new things coming, but not without some pain. Also piles of laundry and a chronically unswept floor.

Any time I find myself at one of these crossroads where something entirely new is taking shape out of the previously comfortable things that came before, I'm discontent, restless, and irritable. Transition forces me to confront the less-than-perfect parts of my life. The raw seams. The unfinished, in-process, frustrating, keep-behind-closed-doors things that I'm not ready for anyone to see yet.

And I have been writing. A little. Scrawling, really- little ideas and phrases that leak out of my brain and onto the pages of a tiny blue notebook, one which I can safely shut and fasten with an elastic band for extra security, making sure those thoughts won't escape to see the light of day until I'm ready to deal with them. 

I can't see them in there, and neither can you.

And until today, I thought that was for the best.

But see, I've told you now. Now you know about the notebook and the thoughts and the mess. Now you know that I've been grumpy and tired and frustrated. Now you can imagine a whole bunch of other things I haven't told you, like how my kitchen looks with dishes stacked up on the counter and how we ran out of milk more than a day ago and how SuperSam rewore his soccer shirt this week without it having been washed and how I forgot to pay the water bill. Because that's how it is sometimes.

I hope you know what I'm talking about.

Maybe you don't know. Maybe you can't relate to the feeling that you are too close to the edge of spinning out of control and dropping not just the laundry but every single important thing you're responsible for holding. Maybe you haven't ever laid in bed in the morning and wished you could fast forward to the end of the day and fall asleep again because you were just that tired. Maybe you haven't felt like avoiding phone calls and social encounters because you weren't sure you had the energy to appear pulled together when you felt just the opposite. 

But maybe you have. Maybe you do know how it feels to be in a less-than-composed place. Maybe you're even there now.

If you are, you're not alone. I hold up my mess to you as evidence of your not-aloneness. I'm smack in the middle of it, but it won't last forever. I'm going to work my way through and come out stronger for it.

I know you will, too.

And while blogging is a pretty public way to work my stuff out, maybe it's not the kind of public where I must have every thought perfectly pinned down before I share it. Maybe I don't have to smooth out every rough spot before I let you in on the process.

This blog is about practice, after all.

It's about gratitude and struggle and family and faith and community and survival, yes- all those things- but mostly about practice. Process. How we're all working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

So with more than a little fear and trembling, I'm letting you in on the mess. I don't have a way to connect all the dots yet. I don't know what the meaning of it all is, and I can't see the bigger picture, but I know there is one. All will be well. It will, truly, even if it isn't yet, even if today I can't see a way forward.

You can expect to hear from me a bit more regularly in the near future. I can't promise it will be polished or insightful or inspiring, but I can promise it will be honest. And polished or not, it is always a privilege and a blessing to be able to share my thoughts with you.

Thanks for keeping me company on the journey.