So this morning I’m committing, like, the number one sin of artistic souls–I’m attempting to generate content without inspiration because I don’t like leaving one post at the top of my page too long. :p
Surprisingly, I did actually stumble across something I’d like to say.
When I look at my life, I usually end up feeling bemused and baffled. I have a lot going on but I’m always a little surprised by what those things are. Look, if I had a portal into the future at age 16 and I was able to look at my life now at age 27, I probably would have taken a hammer to said portal in order to fix it because obviously it must’ve gone haywire.
At 16, I didn’t know what life held for me but I had hopes. I pictured working hard at a 4-year university, maybe finding a lead into writing for a semi-popular magazine, searching for a job in journalism, possibly traveling a lot or at least moving away for awhile. Then I pictured finding time to pen a novel or biography, gaining enough notoriety to at least justify some speaking engagements and book signings. I wondered how getting married sometime would fit into all that, but I didn’t worry about it much. I thirsted for romance but not after settling into the role of wife. I didn’t even think about being a mother. My vision of my future was all watercolors of busy cities, pencil skirts and heels, piles of papers, and hurrying from one deadline to another.
It was a nice, general picture of interests that I knew could sustain me through my adult life.
It happened to be pretty much dead wrong.
Here’s what really happened: met a guy and started courting shortly before I turned 17, accepted his proposal of marriage at age 18, married at 19, spent one year in college as a married couple and then went back home (husband’s in-the-country hometown) when the bills got too steep. Spent another year in an apartment, became pregnant with our first child, bought a house. Had baby #1, became pregnant with baby #2, spiraled into an identity-crisis because of truly deplorable lack of skill at housekeeping and feeling generally overwhelmed. Husband’s employer bankrupt, house fire, baby #2, bought minivan, adjusted attitude and settled into the struggle with housekeeping. Father diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, husband found excellent employer, pregnant with baby #3, discover amazing midwife and plan first homebirth. Said final goodbye to father, baby #3 born at home in my room, a blur of two years of intense grief and challenging God in every way. God broke my heart of stone, spent a lot of time re-learning how to love and be loved, began reading up on different methods of homeschool, pregnant with baby #4. My mother remarried, baby #4 born at home, homeschool adventures begin, get adjusted, begin again. Husband’s family goes through one of the toughest years yet, pregnant with baby #5, admitted to myself that I am technically more of an unschooler than a traditional homeschooler, begin to accept always being a little different than the crowd I find myself in.
That brings us up to date. I left a lot out but you can see how different this life has been from what I imagined it would be. I homeschool–UNschool, even!, stay home fulltime to cook and clean (usually barefoot and often while pregnant), am having our 5th child with a midwife at HOME, live in the country surrounded by Amish farms… You see where this is going? My 16-year-old watercolor has turned into a series of very real photographs, titled “Surprises Never Cease.”
The most shocking part, to me, is how very blessed and grateful I am for every one of those surprises. Yes, every single one. Right down to the bankrupt employer, the house fire, and the Daddy I can no longer call when I’m having a rough day. It’s been tough, it’s been fast, but it’s been incredibly fruitful. Losing his job gave my husband the opportunity to find a better one. Our house provided a job for my husband during reconstruction and is now much more suited to our needs. And my dad? I’ve learned more about God and His goodness than I ever could have another way.
I still feel a little like my current life doesn’t do a very good job of representing who I am to other people. But I suppose it’s fitting that in a life full of ridiculous, even shocking, surprises that I should be a bit of a surprise myself.