Growing pains

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It is Friday of the first “week” of school, if one can call it that after only two days of class. The quiet here sinks into my bones. It builds me up again after a long summer of  squabbles and hard days and incessant machinery chugging away outside my back door every day, all day. The kids leave and I miss them. The port-o-potty and piles of dirt disappear too. I don’t miss the rank odor that assaulted me every time I opened my door this summer. Port-o-potty plus humid summer heat equals death by deep breathing.

I sit inside the house and take deep cleansing breaths–fresh air only. This is September, a time to hit reset on the button, to re-evaluate our plans and schedules for the next school year. Already my inbox bulges with requests and reminders. I sigh to myself and the dog, who ignores me. The quiet sinks into his bones too. I confessed to my kids that I shed a tear or two every year on the first day of school. Watching your heart walk out the door, another year closer to leaving you, is no small thing.

After sending off my youngest for the fifth year in a row, I cried for a different reason yesterday. I realized that I’ve had four years of school days to myself. Four years of stay-at-home mothering without the children present for much of it. I let my mind wander all over that, and I started to feel a little anxious when I also realized how little I have to show for it. Sure my house is clean and the laundry gets done, but shouldn’t I be out saving the world or something? Cue the mid-life crisis.

My husband reminded me that two of those years involved international moves and the other two I spent largely single-parenting in a foreign country. So, mid-life crisis narrowly averted. Once the last page closes on the story of a year, I tend to forget how much effort went into surviving and thriving in it. This is the first year of real stability for us, the year we will let our roots grow deep, and I need to find new ways to grow along with it. Growing pains don’t subside with middle age or mothering or staying put. Regardless of how still we stand, there’s always room to grow deeper. Here’s to another year of moving in one direction or another.


Do you have big change on the horizon? If you’re staying put, how do you keep growing? I’m very curious!


  • I can feel your deep sigh…and can relate. I like the point that you make of how part of your brain goes ” I have been home for four years…what do I have to show for it?” and then your husbands reminder of “four years at home” is not an accurate picture. Thank God for husbands who can cut through the haze of mother guilt! My big change has been in going back to work part time in the evening. Whenever I find myself toying with the idea of a big life change (I consider working at Target 20 hrs a week in the evening a “big life change”) I pray “Lord this has to bring a blessing, good things for the whole family. Extra money and getting out of the house, are not enough” I had a similar prayer when I decided to home school my two older girls last year. I knew, I just knew, I could not base it on two negatives: 1) the local schools kinda suck and 2) we can’t afford private, as why I homeschool. You will not get a positive out of that. I have to love it. My girls have to love it. Our home atmosphere has to one of joy and peace. Not all the time of course…we are not turning into robots…and quite frankly we are that loud yelling family! But overall when I realistically look at things I see the goodness, the contentment and blessings to the whole family. I think that is the difference. As Westerners we take a very tangible, measurable look at things. A “what measurable gain will I get”. Christian included, though they never use that termonology of course. Spirit-led and prayer led with an understanding that our Heavenly Father wants to bless us, while maturing us to say no to self gain, does not fit into a neat little box of pros and cons. Blessings on you in whatever and where ever your life takes you…even if it is to rest…that takes effort too.

    • Leah, thanks so much for sharing your experience. I love that you ask whether or not change will bless the entire family. I confess, that isn’t always my approach. Thanks for helping me ask better questions as I begin to seek answers for what’s next.