Monday, January 07, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

While at a wedding reception on Saturday (this will become a post soon, I'm awaiting pictures to be emailed), someone at our table asked me after recognizing Mikayla's age, "So, next year, when she and Brayden are both at school for the full day, what will you be doing with all your time?" This is not the first time I've been asked this question, nor do I think it will be the last. And, I gotta say, I really, really don't like that question.

Throw that little gem with the recognition that it's January - and I will admit, I'm floundering a bit. I'm not in a funk, I'm not depressed, my body is not doing any kooky things at the moment (outside of the norms I'm used to), but I feel agoraphobic - that would be the fear of open spaces. No, it has nothing to do with the tree being taken out of the house so now there's room, it's more the fear of the open spaces all over my calendar.

From late May through the beginning of January my life gets pretty darn busy. I go, go, go and plan, plan, plan for the next thing coming up. Those are my hey-day days, what I love most in a calendar year. But, now, I've got things coming up to look forward to, for sure, but nothing consuming (unlike the start of school or Christmas). So, it gives me lots of time to think - and lately, worry.

Is my daughter going to be where she needs to be (i.e. reading) for first grade?
Will she make friends, and more specifically, the friends I like, in first grade?
How will she feel about leaving me all day?
How will I feel about her leaving me all day?
Will I be devastated next September?
How fast would I opt for homeschool just to avoid those above feelings?
Is Brayden's current "apathy" for school going to be a bad thing when things get even tougher?
Why haven't I been working with him on his handwriting more?
Why haven't I been working with both of them on reading more?
Will Brayden continue to keep the great choices of friends he's had so far?
How long will my kids long "just to be with us" over any other activity?
Are they going to resent that I don't pretend/play with them more?
What will my heart do if they ever show signs of not caring/loving us anymore (i.e. rebelling)?*

And, that's just about my kids. Obviously, you can see that guilt plays a big part in a lot of these thoughts. Then, throw in the expectation that I do something worthwhile with my "extra time" and me not feeling particularly led to do anything but finally catch up with my laundry and have a clean house and time for daily exercise - that just leads to more worthless feelings.

I know that this is where God wants me, to take the time to seek Him and rest in what He would have me do vs. what is listed in my Daytimer. So, I don't see all this as a bad thing, but it isn't very comfortable. Like I said, I'm a bit out of sorts, and currently, a little edgy and self-centered as a result. (I'm sure my friends have noticed....).

So, there you go, that's where I'm at. Tomorrow, Brayden finally heads back to school, Mikayla will have her first "long-lunch" day since break, and I'll have some more time to reflect. Perhaps, tomorrow, I'll make the right choices, trust the Lord with my worries, and choose to be others-centered vs. all about me. Or, maybe not. By the looks of the calendar, it appears I've got plenty of time to keep trying......

* Last night (when Mikayla laid down next to me, willing to watch a sci-fi show just to be next to me) I asked Mikayla if she would ever get a tattoo or shave her hair off or turn it blue. She made it clear she'd do none of the above, except she hesitated on the tattoo - she told me she'd tell me if she got one. "What?!!" I responded with alarm. Then she went on to explain that she'd tell me if she put one of the "Duck tattoos" on her face ----- "Oh, honey, that's not what I'm talking about!", and I proceeded to explain what a real tattoo was and she was mortified. I then asked if she'd ever tell me she hates me and never wants to be around me - She once again, assured me, "No way!". But, just in case, I made her "pinky-swear". So, now I don't need to worry - she pinky-swore, so it's all good.


LiteraryGirl said...

This is sooo funny because I've been meaning to have a discussion with you about this since we are both facing the "kids in school all day" thing next Fall. Perhaps I will postpone indefinitely that conversation...

HollieHobbie said...

I have a few years before I will be "alone" during the day, but people have been asking that question to me too. I think I want to make sure that I go to all their assemblies, parties etc, so I cannot say I will really head back to the workforce. But I have been thinking that I'd like to learn to make the perfect latte, so being a part time barista is attractive to me....for about five minutes. haha
What does Nancy do? She is a good one to confer with on this because she seems like she took it in stride and very much so fills her time with intriguing, creative, happy things.

HollieHobbie said...

ps: what do you use for a daytimer?

Stephietoo said...

This is why I love you so much! I don't think your kids could ever 'hate' you. Rebel, perhaps; but never hate you. I am sorry you are feeling this way. I was wondering when it was going to start to sink in. I should have known that it would have been around the time K-Bear turned six. I love you!!

Also, please kick me when you see me tomorrow to remind me that I have a check for you and I have had it in my possession for about a week now.......

Anonymous said...


Thanks for being brave enough to share. Oftentimes we know there's a gap between what we're supposed to do and believe, and what we just can't stop thinking and worrying about, but it's so hard to close!

I always wonder how you manage the busyness, because I am just the opposite; a full calendar means a grumpy, preoccupied, drill sergeant Mommy. If you love it, I admire that! But if you're keeping yourself busy because you feel like otherwise you don't have worth, or don't somehow deserve to be an at-home Mom, that's not right...

I work for a career woman who on the one hand will say she regrets not being there for her kids more, and knows some of their problems in life were due to her absence (as adults they've now they learned to extort a lot of guilt money from her); but on the other hand, she resents when I won't work overtime or join her service club or do anything else that will take me away from them any longer than I have to be. I have learned to be secure in my own belief that raising kids is the most important job in the world (why does everybody agree with that, but look down on people who LIVE that?). Most people are not going to really get that or respect you. As they say, the first thing out of someone's mouth after you're introduced is, "So, what do you do?" And women are pretty much the worst about it because no matter what we're doing we feel guilty and tend to judge others to make ourselves feel better.

Steph, don't ever feel guilty about a day full of laundry and errands and exercise, especially if that guilt is coming from what you think others think of you. From what I can tell you work extremely hard at being a great mom, have sacrificed much, and have a faith that can help you weather the storms of life (and young adulthood). My job sitting at a desk pushing papers around is such a joke in comparison to being a full time mom.

Yeah, it is terrifying to think at some point in the near future they'll be out of our control. I always think of Billy Graham's son Franklin, who was raised in what some would call an ideal home, but sent his mother to her knees in prayer as he got in trouble with the law and partied his way through his teens and young adulthood. But that prodigal son is now the leader of his father's ministry! God can do *all things* especially when a child has had a stable foundation laid, as you and John and doing.

I'll be praying for you...thanks for sharing some stuff all us moms worry about...and believe me there's guilt aplenty for those of us divorced, and working full time...we also have to trust God will fill the gaps, and not take it personally when others (often at church, and from the pulpit) share statistics about children of divorce, and children who spend their days in daycare.

:) Sorry for the superlong post-

StephieAnne said...

You guys are awesome - thank you so much!

First of all, Hollie - the daytimer is just one that you would find at Target - the one with colors on it for each month. However, I decorate it with the stickers - and if that's the info you want, I'll get it to you.

Second, I did talk to Nancy and she keeps her day full taking on activities and being there for others and her kids - pretty much what I'll end up doing.

The idea of working someplace if I don't have to really doesn't appeal to me. I think it would bring a sense of satisfaction, but the idea of "having to be there" and working for someone and fulfilling expectations gives me anxiety even thinking about it!

A lot of what I am feeling probably comes from a sense that there's more I have to offer and am withholding it due to lots of excuses - particularly in the realm of ministry. Sept. '08 strips some of the most obvious excuses, so I am feeling like I better get some ideas in mind now and start praying about them so I'll be prepared to answer - one way or another.

Thanks again, all of you, for your words of encouragement. This is a typical January thing for me, but even listening to "Come Fill this Place" while exercising helps me to see the bigger picture. When I get "it all figured out" - I'll let you all know!

HollieHobbie said...

September '08? Did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

p.s. Steph, I found a great site on SAD, light therapy, etc. You can take a "morningness-eveningness" questionnaire that helps you determine the optimum light treatment time:

Apparently there is a lot of controversy over the blue lights as a SAD therapy, which I didn't know.

StephieAnne said...

Sept. 08 - when both kids are in school all day - and it is a Franklin Covey calendar, Hollie.

Heather, I'll have to look that up - I just use it in the morning when I'm reading the Bible/my computer/the newspaper and eating oatmeal....

Colie said...

Oh the guilt! It starts when you push your child out (or reach out and grasp your child for the first time) (or maybe sooner) and it never stops. And this is just children guilt. Why do we as women always feel guilty. Also, we tend to push each other over instead of lending a helping hand.

I have though a lot about this because I (like you Steph) will have to keep my counseling/school license up somehow or go back to school. I hope that whatever I choose I can feel supported by the women in my life. So far, for the most part, I have felt that support.

Interesting enough, we put the guilt apon us more than any other person ever could!

Good luck with your decisions and with processing this transition. I can imagine what it feels like and I would be overwhelmed!

I am praying for you!