I am finally feeling strong enough to come back to this online space and share some of the huge changes we've been through in the last two years. Sometimes you need a bit of perspective to process everything and see how the bigger picture looks.
Being a young (ish) Grandmother is much like being a young mother. It has it's challenges but they are far outweighed by the rewards. As the children grow things become easier in some ways and harder in others. The children are developing their own friendships, interests and schedules and it's both scary and wonderful to watch them emerge from the cocoon of childhood into adolescence. Nola is still little but she loves to hang out with the big kids and be part of their world.
Sometimes there are Eleven people in our home including Emmy's boyfriend Alex and a dear family friend who has been staying with us since early Spring. Eleven sounds like a lot doesn't it. It is. And it would feel like a lot if everyone didn't pull their weight but generally, usually, most of the time they do.
Sometimes it's hard for Tani and I to find space as a couple as we transition from the intensity of parenting and homeschooling the little years to being the parents of mainly (almost) teenagers. We have to be intentional about creating boundaries for ourselves in the sacred, quiet of evening and make time to go on mini tea dates while errand running on weekends. Tani and I are entering a new stage as a couple. It feels like we are rediscovering each other on a different level. Now that the children are a little more independent we are able to make more time for just being with one another. One of the benefits of a full house is there is usually someone on hand to watch the younger ones for an hour or so.
The kids love the busyness. It's tribe like and feels very natural to live in a big group. The children always have someone to play with or talk to. There is always something interesting going on. People having in depth conversations about something they've read, idea's, philosophy, making creating, crafting, working, cleaning, cooking... Always. Something. Going. On. And most of the time it's good.
Although it can also be tricky if you are a INFP, introverted, hobbity type. Strangely, though I've come to realize that it is actually good for me to have a lot of people around me. Although I'm naturally inclined to spend a lot of time on my own it can make me to inward looking, too self critical and even melancholic.
I grew up as an only child. My parents two were only children as were my Father's parents, my grandparents on my mother's side had siblings which had died, or lived in (what was then communist East Germany.) I grew up feeling isolated. I guess I grew to get used to the quiet, perhaps even thrive on it.
It's really strange though because I actually remember being really extroverted and sociable as a little kid. I was always ready to out and about, meet people, do things. Over time I retreated further and further inside my own shell until it became normal for me to identify myself as an introvert.
I was looking at this Ted talk about personality types recently and realized that yes, although I am in the green quadrant (caring, encouraging, passive, listening) a part of me is also in the opposite quadrant (resilient, task orientated, social, expressive) It felt like a big revelation. Perhaps that is why I always feel as if I can always understand both sides of an argument. I've always been a bit of a between categories kind of person. I'm a catholic but I find so much richness in other spiritual traditions, my homeschooling is an eclectic mix of Waldorf/Charlotte Mason/Un-schooling and Classical, I am a hippy, health conscious type but my kids watch television and eat frozen pizza from time to time.
It seems that mid-life includes a whole lot of reconciling opposites and contradictions. Life becomes less black and white and far more nuanced. Things that I would have been quite orthodox about in the past seem more complex. I have less judgement of myself and others. Having ideals isn't a bad thing but when taken to extreme, as things can be in the online world, they become distorted. If trying to live up to a set of "ideals" makes you guilt ridden, stressed, judgmental of those who fall beneath them then what are they really worth even if you attain them. I will be writing a lot more about the subject of idealism and mid -life. They seems to be pretty hot topics for me at the moment.
Extremism in any form is unhealthy whether that's extreme eating ( even extreme healthy eating such as juice cleanses, fasts, raw food diets etc), beauty ideals, or setting unrealistic expectations in your home or with your children.
I'm not saying standards are wrong but taken to the extreme, anything is.
Sometimes I have to take a walk in the woods, or sit with a candle by the window, listen to some gentle music, or birdsong, or silence, pray and realign myself with my deepest core, my spirit, my God. In this place everything becomes clear and peaceful. There is no striving.
These quiet times have become more and more important over the last couple of years. My body let me know that it was time for some changes to take place by not functioning as well as it should. I totally changed my lifestyle and diet and my thyroid disorder began to go into remission. (More on that another time)
My beautiful Emmy girl finally completed her A-Levels this June ( through an unexpected pregnancy, Liver function issues, Pre-eclampsia, C, Section delivery, relationship breakdown, moving house and contracting C-dif after going into hospital with a tooth infection which she needed intravenous antibiotics for, she earned herself three A levels in Psychology, English Language and Business. Writing it all down really puts it into perspective. I am proud of her. She has come through a lot, stayed strong.
She now has a job as a marketing assistant. She also passed her driving test and has just become the youngest scout troupe leader in the county. The other day she came home from work, dressed in her smart suit and I thought to myself, wow, that is my daughter, all grown up.
It is both wonderful and strange when the mother/child dynamics change and you communicate with your child as a peer, as an adult in their own right. It's been challenging at times. It's hard to let go and trust that your child has grown into a capable adult who can easily drive herself about, take care of her baby, find herself a job and a good man that will love her for who she is and even perhaps trek up mount Snowdon and go on adventures with her one year old in an ergo on her back. (as the pictures illustrate.)
I have much more to say and I will, no doubt, write it all out in due time.
I have two highschoolers homeschooling at the moment and hope to share more about what they are doing too!
As usual, I'm always pleased to be back in this quiet spot. In a busy home, it is nice to have a space which is just your own, even if it is virtual.