Who Are You?

I don’t recognize the woman I have become. I am not complaining, but I don’t know where this woman in the mirror came from.

whoareyou

Early Mornings. Choosing to wake up before my children and doing it so often that I no longer need an alarm, even if I’m in bed at 1am.

Exercise…What?!

Choosing not to listen to Music or watch TV, and when I do it has become documentaries and musicals. I mean I have my list of things to watch but it is woefully out of date.

Reading historical documents, political theory, articles on International Relations theory, Philosophy, Psychology, Theology, and pre-1900 classics instead of Parenting Articles, fractured pieces of books I’ve wanted to read that still sit in piles all over my house, Manga (my serialized manga backload is in the hundreds of chapters), Webtoons, and Children’s Novels (well I still read these, but they are outloud and to a captivated audience, with voices).

None of this is a part of how I have framed myself over the years. In my own mind I have spent years searching for who I am and where I am going. Never quite knowing if I was there yet. Loving and accepting some parts of myself but knowing that other parts needed to grow up some more with no idea of how to get to that place of “grown up” me. I had peace in my Faith. I had peace in my Father’s plan, or rather that there was a plan for me but I didn’t know what the plan was and so I was always on the move. Always searching. For, me.

I knew who I was and could define who I was and what I stood for at any given moment, but I knew I wasn’t “there” yet. There was this picture in my mind of this mom that I wanted to be, this woman that I wanted to be and I wasn’t there yet. I am still not there yet. But the woman now, who tells her kids to do their independent reading for the next twenty minutes together so that mommy can read this piece of Plato, is a whole lot closer to that mental image than I ever was before.

After we received our diagnoses, and after I started working, things shifted in a way that I could have never imagined. I never imagined that adding more to my plate would make me a better mom, but it does.

Getting a chance to study big ideas, share the thoughts of great thinkers and challenge minds to a wider world than they could have imagined makes me feel alive, and purposed. I knew that I was doing all of that for my children as well, but it is different and it has nothing to do with the paycheck. Working with my children is being with and spreading my love for them but they are still young, so the ideas that we get to discuss and play with are not at the same level as the ideas that I bring to my classrooms. At home we study the American Revolution and we talk about freedom as an abstract idea. We talk about the founding fathers and they are people from story books and in museums or volunteers dressed up at events. At work we talk about The American Revolution and we discuss the idea of tyranny. Of a voice being unheard and injustice that is so rampant that men are willing to undergo frostbite and hunger to fight it. It is the look in an adults face as they begin to understand an argument that is so different from what they believe from a purely openminded place. When a 19 year old student reads a quote from a 400 year old author and says “damn, thats deep” and you know you just hit them with something that they will internalize into the fabric of their very personality that they may not have even heard otherwise.

Knowing that my work has this kind of greater purpose pushes me to make sure that not only my work is done, but it pushes me to make sure that my children are getting even more of me than my students do. I spend less time on my phone. Not being home two mornings a week and having several times during the week when I must work from home forces me to be really present when I am home. I bake more. I read more. I play with them more. Loosing two school days to teaching and driving means that the rest of our days are more purposeful in their actions. I have become a much better homeschooler and a much better mom because I don’t have the ability to just do it later- there is no later in this fast paced world, well, at least not until the term is over.

I have a confession to make. This new woman staring back at me is no good with multi-tasking. I can’t grade papers and listen to the made up stories of my five year old. I can’t keep up with the dishes/laundry and keep our records up to date. I cannot drive 2.5 hours two times a week to teach and do math every single day- if I do it all traditionally. I am not Superwoman. I don’t do it all, all the time. I take turns. I have off days. I stick to a sort of a schedule (GASP!) – ok, maybe I went to far there, its not a schedule, its a rhythm based on days…so it’s like a loose schedule…but if you’ve read my past posts, can you believe it? ME? A SCHEDULE of any sort?

So, lady staring back at me, who looks like me, but doesn’t act, like me… I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you came from. I don’t know if these early mornings are good or bad yet, but I like you. I’ll make you a cup of Tea, why don’t you stay a while? Help me get to point where we actually fold the laundry and catch up on all of that manga too… after all, I’m growing up, not changing who I really am.

 

Advertisements

Finding a Fit

Well hello again, it’s been a while hasn’t it? Thanksgiving feels like a lifetime ago yet here I sit at my keyboard only now realizing that it’s been that long since I put my thoughts out there. So much has happened in such a short time. The curriculum that worked fabulously stopped working fabulously after the newness wore off, I started a job and then finished it, we’ve had some sickness, some weather craziness, a birthday and a diagnosis – but that will have to wait for its very own post.

findingthefitTo say that things have changed again feels so repetitive and yet it has… perhaps I should name this blog the House Change called Home. Maybe Change and I are just too familiar with each other and so he feels comfortable being himself in my life. I envision Change as a five-year-old boy with a temper tantrum problem. He wears overalls and tracks mud everywhere but sometimes he smiles a crooked missing tooth smile, and in that moment he is the most welcomed face possible. He must live nearby because he always seems to dump all of his issues on me…maybe he just always visits near his bedtime and this is how he responds, I am his brain dump.

Well anyway, he came, he saw, he conquered and I was left standing with towers made of china precariously balancing in my clumsy hands while trying to dance the tango.

So this is how it all breaks down, two weeks before Christmas I get an email offering the diamond of all opportunities… the chance to possibly be hired as an Adjunct teaching  Western Civilization at a community college. My dream job being lobbed gently right into my glove. Well, as long as I could get my resume and application turned in by the close of business tomorrow because the whole school was being shut down for winter break. The last teacher couldn’t take the position, they needed someone now and I was recommended.

I, by the grace of God, pulled it off.

Holidays come, Holidays go. Schedule, school…what’s that? Craziness ensues.

Job offered, job accepted, official transcripts ordered, materials handed off and class starts…all in one week. Well, class was also supposed to be happening for my four little hooligans but it did not because said job, at said community college was taking place near grandma and grandpa’s house…two and a half hours away. So my week looked like this: prep for class, write quiz, pack for trip with children, drive two and a half hours to grandparent’s house, teach class, pick up kids, drive home, go to OT, fit in volunteer work, try to get the kids to any nature center possible, go to Piano lessons, go to AWANA, and try to fit five days worth of homeschool scheduling into three days. Well, all of that structure that worked so well for us in the fall made me feel like a failure every single week.

IMG_0631

We were always behind in something. Sure we found ways of learning every day but none of it was on my schedule! All of those science and math podcasts, the audio books we listened to, all of those great books Grandpa read to them on his day off, all of the comic books they created or the sentences they copied or the documentaries that they watched…all of the unschooly type stuff that I know is great learning, not a single part of it made me feel better about the fact that we were three weeks behind on our scheduled readings and falling more behind every day. I knew that it was a problem with me. Apparently, I just have the kind of personality that turns any recommendation into a checklist of requirements. So while I still love Ambleside, I cannot use it as it was intended.

Enter good friends and homeschool retreats.  I am so thankful that I have found a group of like-minded homeschooling friends who just get it. I opened up about my issues to a few of them and they reminded me of the atmosphere part of CM homeschooling. I had lost it in my busy-ness. I lost my fit, again. I allowed that beautiful environment that I had created in the beginning of the fall to erode into a lifestyle ruled by a timetable and just as I was feeling at my worst about it all I attended a local CM retreat.

IMG_0546I am not exaggerating when I say that three days of pure CM goodness being poured into me changed not only how I felt about schooling at that moment but it also really helped me focus my overall plan for schooling the littles. Not that I even know what’s happening next year but I feel better about the blips and bumps along the way because I can see how the whole picture fits together. I can see how life is a part of the process and part of what makes things fit overall. So that documentary on life in the Galapagos ended up fitting in nicely when a family member went to the Galapagos Islands and flooded my Instagram feed with the most beautiful pictures imaginable, and that ended up fitting in even more nicely with the geography book that I picked up and just so happened to start with Archipelagos.

Best of all was that I didn’t need to make any of those connections. The science of relations worked on its own and the children pulled it all together by themselves. Also, it didn’t matter that I was still reading the first chapter of Robinson Crusoe to Little Man. Turns out he had kept up with the reading schedule but barely understood his own narrations and needed me there to help him break down the language. So we started over and worked on it together. On the positive side, I finally found a book that was challenging to him!

I still use a lot of the resources from the Ambleside curriculum, they are good, solid books and I don’t want to completely reinvent the wheel but I also figured out that the Schedule Cards put out by Sabbath Mood are far more helpful to us in this phase of life. Right now, I need the flexibility of movable cards based on a set amount of time more than a week by week list of chapters to be read. But just two months ago that weekly breakdown worked so perfectly, what happened to me? Am I that flighty?

schedulecards

Maybe, the problem isn’t me?  I know that the problem isn’t the curriculum because I know so many who thrive while using it. Maybe, the problem is with how I’m trying to view the problem itself. I keep trying to find a fit like I’m a puzzle piece trying to find my spot in the jigsaw, but what if I am not a part of a puzzle at all. What if I belong to Jenga instead? What if I am not a piece at all but rather the whole game?

What if, I don’t fit right now because my tower is growing and as it grows it becomes unstable, requiring me to move one piece at a time as I get closer to the end? If I stay as is my tower may crumble, but if I move things around I will get just a little bit closer to my goal. Eventually, everything will fall down just to start over again. My role in my children’s lives will get rebuilt. They will start building their own towers, leaving me with a whole new tower to build, a whole new purpose. The awesome thing about Jenga is that every piece is me. Every piece fits in one way or another but how I arrange those pieces decides what kind of game I get to play and how long I get to play the game but in the end, the result is always the same. The tower always falls.

The class was a short one and its over now but it was an amazing experience. My role as teacher to someone other than my own children fueled me. For the first time since I moved to the East Coast, I did not have a real winter depression. I was starting to feel the effects of winter but just when it usually hits the hardest everything changed. In the end, I was a better mom for it, a better wife and a better homeschooler. There is no saying how long this solution will last. With each new problem, there is a new solution. I don’t know what that next problem will be but based on the Change that I know, it is time to prepare because bedtime is coming.

Broken Glass

Today I took a nap. A real nap.

I put on a CLEAN semi trendy outfit and thought that I looked cute in my leggings, skirt and tee combo paired with boots and matching purse.

I liked my outfit. I didn’t have to worry about practicality and I didn’t need to walk half naked from room to room handling other peoples clothing emergencies, “this sock feels weird” or “where’s my left shoe” were nowhere to be heard! I chose an outfit that I liked and then I got dressed.

I had time to curl my hair and apply what passes as make up for me…basically BB cream, lipstick and eyeliner. I didn’t have to take my lipstick out of my four year olds hands and I didn’t have to explain to my daughter why I like to put eyeliner on my eyes.

After much pomp and circumstance (and several rounds of hugs and pouty faces) I left my house without children.

I went to a Starbucks not attached to a Target, alone.

I walked up to the Starbucks counter (not the drive thru) and ordered a Grande Iced Carmel Macchiato  (for the first time) without the chaos of multiple voices trying to order their own drinks in rapid succession.

I was early for my moms night out and unapologetically jammed to top 40 music, complete with expletives.

It was GLORIOUS!

Dinner with female adult conversation and Baltimore’s third year of Listen to Your Mother was, to say the least, a blessing.

I love my children and truly enjoy being with them, but friendship and nights out are a gift, a rare and well appreciated gift.

On my way home, just to maximize my time out, I walked through a bookstore until closing… by myself! I looked at the adult fiction section, I picked up some merchandise from a clearance table and I reveled in the calming smell of paper and coffee.

I know, I’m living the dream…or at least the suburban mom dream.

The children were ecstatic to see me when I finally returned. Daddy let them stay up until I came home, letting them binge watch Phineas and Ferb. They loved it. It was just as much of a treat for them as it was for me.

Then the TV turned off. Bedtime was announced. They shuffled their feet. They tried to give another three kisses before heading up the stairs. We heard shouting. We heard running feet… and then we heard breaking glass.

A beautiful day, filled with calm and refreshing quiet, ended with the shattering of glass.

Because, of course, something had to happen.

But…

It didn’t annoy me. The sound of shattering glass didn’t fill me with dread or anger. I was still calm. I was able to respond to the emotional needs of the children who had accidentally hit the glass while trying to brush their teeth. I was able to respond and not react.

For the first time ever the sound of broken glass made me smile.

It reminded me that life is unpredictable. It reminded me that life is fragile. It reminded me that life is transparent and beautiful exactly the way it is.

Because that shattering, fragile glass reminded me that Glass, like life, is made beautiful in its imperfections.brokenglassblogpost

 

The Year of Uncertainty: Looking back on 2015

The year of 2015 is coming to a close and as I sit and reflect over everything that has happened over the past twelve months I have come to the realization that this past year has been one of never ending tests on my faith and an excruciatingly large amount of unknown.  So much uncertainty has plagued the past year and in turn so much change has occurred over such a short year and in that same time so much growth has happened unbeknownst to those of us in the midst of the trials .

As a family we are a tiny bit stronger than we were last December and as a woman I am a tiny bit braver than I was this time last year.

the year of uncertainty

Going into 2015 we still had no confirmation as to our ongoing position with the Marine Corps. There was still every possibility that they would reject our request for early retirement. We had no idea whether we would be retiring in the area or whether we would be given orders to move to a new area.

We had five months left on our apartment lease but only two months to decide if we were going to stay in that tiny (for our family) apartment or leave. If we stayed it would be another year long lease and rent was rising by several hundred dollars per month. If we left we could find a better deal but how long would we be there? Orders could show up and require us to move out at any time, and while we always sign a military clause I would never want to subject a family to an unexpected loss of renters. We could buy if we knew that the Corps was releasing us but we had absolutely no savings for a deposit and no idea what was affordable because there still wasn’t a job lined up.

Oh yeah, then there was the whole job issue. There were possibilities of jobs, there were companies offering contract positions that sounded great but none of them would start an official hiring process without an official retirement date. See the circularness of this situation?

2015 was already full of uncertainty and it had only just begun.

xmaslights

In mid February we returned that intention to move out slip to the apartment complex before we received the yes on our retirement. We had no backup plan, unless you count moving back on base and spending more than we could afford a month on housing just to have a place to live as backup. By the end of February we received the yes for the Retirement. We had to move out of our apartment by May 1 and we still had no job lined up. After talking to co-workers who had been in similar situations, the consensus was that buying a house on active duty is infinitely easier than buying one when you’re just starting out at a new job. So the look for a house began and surprisingly we were pre-approved for enough to actually get a decent, if not older home in our area. Still, everything was up in the air and nothing in our lives had any sense of certainty.

School took on the same air of uncertainty. The children knew we were living in limbo. We were all stressed out. We unschooled more than anything else, and it worked far more than I honestly thought it would. The girls started showing more of their giftedness. Little Miss became more inquisitive than ever before, Curly Que picked up everything at light speed and there was never enough information. Itty Bitty demanded even more constant attention and information but her usually great sleeping habits stopped being great. She stopped napping most days, even though her mood needed it, and she would not go to sleep at night, not of her own free will. She would move until she literally dropped, and that was rarely ever in her bed.

I couldn’t stand being in the apartment any longer and we spent almost everyday out and about. We lived out school. We went to the free DC museums several times a month. We went to every $8 performance I could get my hands on just so that we would have an activity to get us out of the cramped apartment. The snow and freezing temperatures didn’t matter, I just couldn’t stand the uncertainty that I associated with the apartment any longer.

We spent whole days going from one wildlife refuge to another, warming up in the library or over fast food. Our diet was as all over the place as our life. The children and I were always just trying to get from one day to the next, all of us were just trying to get from one day to the next.

jochristmas

Then in May everything fell into place. First the house, then the job and we felt a sense of relief. We thought the rest of the year would be a breeze after that but we never even considered that I could be the one to break down next. My headaches were debilitating and I could not focus my eyes when the sun was up. I went to the optometrist because I had only ever had migraines related to needing a new prescription. Nothing was wrong with my prescription but the double vision worried the ancient man in the lab coat who smelled of moth balls and peppermint. He gave me a referral for an ophthalmologist, which I took to the base clinic and set up a referral.

If your acquainted with military healthcare than you know that a referral can take anywhere from a week to several months to set up. My referral was sent to Bethesda/Walter Reed, the busiest hospital in the military healthcare system. The referral process took a month and it was another month after that when the first available appointment was set up. As I waited the double vision began to go away and the headaches came and went with the weather. I almost cancelled the appointment but the urging of close friends nudged me ahead. Im glad I didn’t since that appointment landed me in the hospital for a week of testing and an ongoing relationship with the neurology department.

Then we found out that everything was changing with our extended family as well. My brother and his family started the process for becoming missionaries. My grandparents moved out of the house they had lived in since I was in high school, and bought a condo in a senior community. My father changed jobs and is still trying to sell his house. My brother in law moved cross country and the other brother in law started a whole new career.

Everything in our life was changing so drastically, and so quickly. Unschooling wasn’t working anymore. By the time that the new school year started my kiddos just couldn’t handle the unknown anymore. My son, especially, just shut down. He couldn’t remember why he walked into a room anymore. He forgot simple tasks. He forgot things that had always been routine before, because the routine had disappeared. Unschooling wasn’t working because we had no constant framework to work within any longer. Too much had changed. We all needed to have some consistency, especially this guy.

gstarwars

I wasn’t doing well either. My headaches still came regularly. My vision was better but now I could/can predict the weather based on the level of my headaches. Staying inside because of headaches was fueling my yearly depression. I felt a new story erupting from somewhere in my head and I desperately wanted to get it on paper before it disappeared again. My need to paint grew stronger and my desire to read conflicted daily with my heads aching protests to the small print. Usually this is when we take a fall break from school, but we couldn’t this year. We needed the structure. We needed the consistency so I forced my creativity to work in the sidelines.

I tried my best to be more intentional about our schooling. I planned ahead, I read out loud daily, I bought a math curriculum and looked into reading ones. I just didn’t have the ability to continue doing everything from scratch when my head was bouncing between splitting and pounding headaches every few days.  We still only schooled for half of the day, the rest was left open for masterly inactivity and pursuing of passions, but it still feels foreign to me. The children are thriving under the structure, I’m barely keeping my head above water but I’m not drowning. I’m getting better with each new day.

I am exhausted. From it all. From the year. Exhausted, but stronger and happier, even after everything that has happened.

This last week of December is my vacation. The children are watching more television that I would normally be ok with. They are playing amongst themselves and I have retreated to worlds of fantasy. I have read more books this past week than I have all year. I’ve allowed myself time to recuperate. This year I gave the children a real winter break and we are relishing every moment of it. 

I wish I could say that I know what will happen in 2016, but I don’t. Im still being held in the grasp of the Year of Uncertainty. 2016 is a mystery to me.   I don’t know whats lying ahead. I’m still trying to break free of our day to day existence. I am still looking for the joy in every moment, still finding the blessings in the every day but I couldn’t even begin to tell you what to expect from us in the next month- let alone a whole year.

us

Itty Bitty has been hinting towards a desire to learn how to read. Curly Que wants to learn how to build things. Little Miss has grown into dolls and sewing. Little Man has lost himself, he’s the oldest and understood the most of what’s going on and needs gentle guidance to find his way back. My husband has expressed an interest in possibly going back to school. I am just trying to learn how to deal with near constant headaches as a part of my normal. We now have family living in Spain and an itch to travel… but nothing is certain. If anything, this past year has taught us how to roll with the punches, keep the faith and like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming!”

Goodbye 2015, Bring it on 2016!

Quitter

I am a quitter.

 

I am a quitter, and that’s a good thing.

I have been Jonah for far too long. I have run away from that which I know in the depth of my heart to be absolutely right for me.

blueme

I have transformed over the past few years. My desires and ambitions have been strong and I am finally letting them go.

I will not be a working mom anytime soon. I have grieved this realization for too long, holding on to any tiny glimmer of hope that may have presented itself to me along the way. I have quit this before, but for some reason just when I think I have quit for good, I relapse and begin the process of guilt and denial once more. I quit. I quit trying to chase down dreams of something that just isn’t going to work out for me right now. Children eventually grow up and I am a young mother, I still have plenty of time to chase ambitions once my work here is done. I am a quitter.

I am not ready to be a full time novelist. I am not ready to give myself the kinds of time that I need to get an idea out of my head and into my hard drive. Time is precious. I can set apart some time because I need it as a part of my self care regimen, but I recognize now that I have other uses of my time which I value more. I will eventually finish my novels and I will continue to write down the ideas that flow from my mind but I will do so in my own time, not because I want to meet an arbitrary deadline. So, I quit. I quit feeling guilty about how I order my time. I am a quitter.

I am tired of feeling like I need to conform to some imaginary ideal. I don’t fit the mold that I keep trying to fit into. I am creative and artsy but I hate crafting. I like big ideas and in depth conversations, not small talk or superficial relationships. I am deeply empathetic, socially moderate but also religiously conservative. I am an introvert who enjoys social interactions in small quantities. I don’t fit, I never have and I am tired of trying to help people understand me. So, I quit. Yes, my hair is now blue and green and purple and grey and I love it so back off. I am a quitter.

My children are important to me. They are my everything, but the world does not revolve around them and I am still a separate person from them. I need to practice self-care. I will not sacrifice my health or mental well being in an effort to be a self-sacrificing mother. I am not selfish, I am recognizing that I am just as important as them. It does them no good to have a mother who can barely function, or a mother who can’t concentrate because of pain and depression. I suffer from several chronic pain conditions and I require a certain amount of self awareness to keep my whole family moving. Hospitalizations should not be my check engine light. I need to be aware before I break down. So, I quit. I quit trying to convince myself that its selfish to get a day alone or to take a nap when I need it. I am a quitter.

My children desire challenges. They thrive off of new information but they also have some areas where they really struggle. I am done trying to politely explain this to pediatricians and outsiders. Those who have met my children never doubt it. I will continue to focus on what challenges them and I will continue to challenge them to think deeply about the things that they love but I am not worried about whether or not they are “on track” with ridiculous things. The schools standards are not my priority and so I will not explain why my child can tell you fun facts about dark matter and chemical compounds but not name the state capitals. I quit. I will continue to teach them big ideas with little interest regarding your checklists or “what a third grader needs to know”… blah, blah, blah. I am a quitter.

The great thing about philosophies are that they are fluid. Methodologies don’t change but philosophies do. Right now my educational philosophy is in the midst of a metamorphoses. At the core, what I believe is the same, but in practice some philosophies have switched places. I’m beginning to lean a bit more CM than I have in the past and a whole lot less Unschooling. Not because I don’t believe in the message but rather because I’m finding that the structure of CM fits better with my focus challenged offspring and the others enjoy the flow. I’ve been making this transition over the past several months and I admit that I’ve been grieving the loss of our unschooling nature. I thrive in that natural learning environment, but I am not the one who needs to be thriving and coming to terms with that realization has been a slow transition.

As a form of early childhood education, that philosophy has been wonderful for our family but now a new style is fitting better and so I must say goodby to my favorite shoes that just don’t fit and break in a new pair. I hate breaking in new shoes. I am not ready to quit, but I must because I am a quitter. I quit when things just don’t work and I move on, I move forward. This past year has been so full of change and so full of quitting that its almost as if I am growing. Why else would I need so much newness? Or maybe, like Jonah I am just tired of running away and ready to face my calling, even if it is one I swore I would never do.

I quit. I quit trying to be someone I am not meant to be. I quit trying to create the life of my dreams and instead I want to dream of the life that I live. I am proud to be a quitter, how about you?

 

The Birth, Death and Rebirth of a Writer

The awakening began at a young age. Entranced by words of all kinds. Emboldened by images that frolicked in the fields of her mind. Unaware of the weirdness that lie beneath.

Imaginary worlds were grown in the free play between siblings and neighborhood friends. Intricate story lines involving evil sorcerers and heroic princess’ being directed by a five year old to a group of children just wanting to play.

Never ending poems and songs being sung for HOURS while climbing trees and arranging Barbie dolls. Using the blocks to create a mall for the Barbies to shop in with their fabulous accessories while terrorist Gi Joes infiltrated the encampments searching for stolen jewelry to fund their campaigns. Always commanded by her little brother who was happy to play along if it meant warfare was immanent.

A world where anything could happen was fostered by her loving family. She was told she could be anything she wanted to be when she grew up. So she followed her passions, desperately trying to find enough information to quench her thirst. Her days filled with exciting explorations and action packed adventures, even if the only thing they did that day was go to the grocery store.

The heart of an artist was born when that tiny baby entered the world. The mind of an artist was cultivated in that dorm apartment of a young early childhood education major and her young seminary student husband. They read to calm her insatiable hunger for more. They sang to her and introduced her to their own passions. They raised a creative soul.

Then like all great parents of the time they enrolled her in a local school when the time was appropriate. They were active parents. A room mom and a supportive dad always there to help with homework and stand by as cheerleaders.

But there was something they didn’t notice. You see the other children and the teachers had expectations and she was so bright that she noticed what those expectations were. She knew what they wanted from her. Their actions and reactions spoke louder than any words.

They were quick to silence her questioning, her talking, her daydreaming. This was a place for learning. Pay attention. Stop talking. Don’t doodle on your homework. You’re such a bright child but you need to stop talking. Why don’t you apply yourself. If you’d just apply yourself you would be a success.

Sometimes through actions, others when they thought she wasn’t listening (but she was always listening) and other times straight to her face.

She liked being the good girl and so she conformed to their expectations. She stood in line when she wanted to dance. She wrote in sentences even though she thought a picture would describe it better. She tried to stop talking but her mind was racing so fast that she needed to let the ideas escape and so she found herself talking to anyone who would listen. She saw patterns in everything and when she pointed them out the teacher rejected it, saying that she wasn’t paying attention to the lesson. She would look out of the windows and imagine dragons and knights battling on the playground equipment only to be admonished for daydreaming.

The other children called her weird and bossy. Every year was a new school, a new system to figure out and new rules to adapt to. The imagination was always there but never vocalized, not any more. By the time she reached fifth grade she had killed off the writer inside. Buried her under all of the expectations she felt needed to be met in order to be a good girl.

She was praised for getting right answers, praised for doing as she was told and praise was good, so she did more. She was teachers pet but at the same time she was painfully aware that if she acted too smart then the other kids would turn on her and so she walked that delicate balance. Trying to please everyone, always.

After a decade of pretending, she was a broken shell of herself. Unable to cope with the expectations any longer.

She tried to find herself again. She followed her interests and battled the need for acceptance. For 15 years she fought the need to please everyone else. She fought the need to live up to others expectations and actually do what SHE wanted.

She was broken and trying to find an answer. In the darkness and solitude of the crowded world surrounding her she quietly picked up a pencil. No one saw her. No one noticed. But she felt alive.

You see, she was successful, she had become what everyone else had molded her to be. She had successfully created an image that others would approve of. Others were envious of her ability to do so much. She was happily (truly happily) married, she had intelligent and fun children, a Masters degree and an ability to make it look like she juggled it all.

It took her 25 years to come to the realization that she was a writer and perhaps an artist. That she needed to let those stories escape the prison her mind had become. She needed to express the incessant chattering and imagery that had always filled her mind.

It took motherhood to break her free.

It took seeing herself in her rambunctious, knowledge thirsty children with wild imaginations to realize that this was an integral part of her that could not be killed off.

It took playing with words at 2 am, nightly.

It took walking away from a night at home to a night at a coffee shop, surrounded by the peaceful silence of strangers chatter, with only her mind and a pen as company.

A writer was born.

A creative soul was created by an almighty creator.

Who are we to tell her that she needs to die?

Read some of Tabitha’s projects at Under the Fig Tree

My Apples Fell Close to this Tree!

For 1 week now we have been living in an Apartment. It has not been unpacked yet, we are still finding homes for everything and it is tiny for this family of 6! Before we moved here I spent about a month (because that’s all the time we had between the decision to move and the move out date) purging the unnecessary clutter. Upon moving in we have come to a few realizations.

1) We own large furniture. Almost everything we own is a hand me down, pretty much everything we own was once located in a very large house and almost everything is 10 years old or more. The exception being our ikea shelves that I bought for toy storage. With only 1000sq ft it’s very obvious that our furniture is oversized!

2) I have no real cleaning routine, and that will change. Not because I want to be more responsible. No I will be cleaning much more often because our appliances are tiny and cannot handle too much. Our sink gets full after breakfast dishes…after dinner the dishwasher is full AND I still have a sink full of dishes. One load of laundry is 1/3 of what I used to do, in fact washing only the days dirty clothes for everyone in the house fills up the washer. That is one outfit person… Half of which are toddler sized!

3) My children are my clones. They have many of their fathers attribute and tendencies but when your in a tiny apartment with thin walls and can hear every conversation you get a better understanding of how people think and my littles are undoubtedly mine!

Their imaginations come from me…all the way down to make believe mythical worlds that must be saved from aliens and time bending bad guys. The love of all things nerdy also comes from me…it is because of my love of sci-fi/fantasy that my 7yr old requested a sonic screwdriver for his birthday and why my 5 year old DAUGHTER loves Star Wars (and Dr. Who!)!!

Their sensitivities come from me. Living in this chaos gets under my skin and makes me highly irritable…now multiply that by 4. We are all living on edge because our environment is in shambles. Daddy is the most level headed one of us all…for now, poor guy.

Temper tantrums are always viable options. I wonder why my kids are always melting down and then whilst freaking out due to the stress of it all (because I’m an idiot to plan a move in less than 30 days and start the school year at the same time while also packing for a week long family vacation!) I realized that I still have temper tantrums. I’m just more able to rationalize why.

Sometimes I need to just do. I need to go somewhere new, do something different, make something that’s creative or think something radical. Surprisingly so do my children! As long as the change is only temporary then anything goes for all of us and if there is too much routine we all get cranky. But what they create and how willing they are to just go (right now they all want to move to Japan and then South America just to experience it all and learn new languages!) surprises and astounds us regularly.

In fact, so much of what makes me quirky is what makes them awesome. Some of the very traits I looked at with insecurity in my youth, are now what makes my wild, crazy, sensitive children so much fun to be around!

So there you have it…I take responsibility for having minions of awesomeness that have spawned upon this earth. Your Welcome.