We went on vacation last week. It was good to get away, but this vacation felt a little different.
It’s been a roller coaster of a spring and summer. A lot has happened, some of it difficult, but mostly good.
I lost my job and my husband lost his part time teaching job. Both of these jobs took place at the same Catholic high school in our local area in Maine, where our kids went. Our first six kids all went to this same school and we assumed seven, eight and nine would attend there as well. We had a plan, the kids were happy and life was moving along.
I really enjoyed my job. I had wonderful colleagues that I called friends. One aspect of my job was to tell prospective families why this school was so great. I told them how it had been such a great place for all my kids, and we were happy to sacrifice financially to send them there. All of that was true. I watched five of my most precious gifts walk across the stage at graduation and go on to fantastic universities. Number 6 is half-way through, and doing great.
But things change. New leadership came in and suddenly the place we had loved so much began to change. It was difficult to watch. Slowly we began to realize that this place that had been a second home to our children was no longer a fit for our family. After my job came to an unpleasant end, it became apparent that the rest of our children would not attend this school and we would find something else that was a great fit for them. We just needed to figure that out.
On the day that my job ended, I went to find my husband who was giving his last final exam to his students. He was already struggling that day, knowing he would no longer teach at this school, but also that this school might no longer be the place where he belonged. When I told him I also was no longer working there, he simply said, “There’s something great in store for our family, we just need to figure out what it is.” And he hugged me and I cried a little. Then I packed my office and left.
That same day over coffee, my dear friend (and former boss who met the same end as me that day) told me to start writing.
“You should start a blog…about raising your family.”
“But who cares about my stories?”
“Try it. I think you’ll be surprised.”
After much cajoling and brainstorming, I decided to try it and since that day a few months ago I have written…pretty much everyday. I’ve written about my kids and my (unsolicited) opinions and what irritates me about our current parenting trends and what I think makes kids great and what makes great kids. I’ve had an awesome time.
During all these transitions, my son and my daughter got married, and I started another job. Needless to say, I had plenty to keep my mind occupied, not to mention a few major home repairs and a lightening strike that killed off a few good appliances, plus a little hair on Keegan’s leg.
Oh well, every thing is replacable, but not the people we love. My kids’ weddings only reinforced that. Family came together, lots of dancing and countless memories were made. That’s what is really important. As our family dynamics change over the years, and the kids set their roots, we cherish our time together.
Finally, after all this, we went camping. It was a quiet week. No distractions, but as my kids grow, so do their schedules. The three oldest weren’t able to make it to the campground at all, this year. New jobs, new spouses and new responsibilities kept them busy. The middle three came for the first few days, but had work and college to get back to. The three youngest got to hang out with us. It was a little different and the quiet left me with time to think about the last few months and all the changes that came with them.
I was a bit melancholy, I admit. I watched some young families with toddlers trying to maneuver the sometimes-messy world of camping. It brought back so many great memories. Changing Aidan’s diaper on Brendan’s back while he was on all fours on the side of a mountain. Setting up portable cribs in tents. Holding sleepy babies by the campfire.
I’ll write more about our camping adventures soon. The things that worked for us and the things that didn’t. And, of course…my opinions about all of it.
Whatever and wherever your family time is… make it about your family. My family is changing fast, and I’m mostly good with it. The years fly by, don’t miss out on time well spent.