Sunday, August 23, 2015

In Which the Adventure Continues... Callooh Callay!

As many of you know, I am heading to St. Petersburg, Florida to complete my child life internship, the last step before I take the certifying exam to be a bonafide CCLS (Certified Child Life Specialist).

For the last few weeks, I have felt resistant to preparing for this major life transition - and one must get ready to move half a country away for four months. It took some deep-soul digging to unearth the root of my concern.

The self-interrogation went something like this:

  • Did I want to complete this internship? Yes.
  • Was my family going to be okay? Yes.
  • Was I excited about my chosen profession? Yes. 

After some time reflecting, I realized that I had started to tell myself the imagined story of 'Others,' and had stopped paying attention to my own story. The story of the 'Others' involves me not being a good mother or a good wife, because I was 'leaving' my family to do my own selfish bidding. Once I recognized that old story, I was able to get back to the real story, the story of MY family and our joy, the story you'll find below. 

In order to maintain balance during my physical distance, I know it will be important for me to have creative time, writing time, so I picked up a lovely green leather journal and the book Wild Women, Wild Voices by Judy Reeves. I have been writing two pages every day, creating a realistic, achievable ritual that meets my needs and that I will carry me through four months and longer. 

 While The Mancub spent time with unschooling friends in New York recently, The Esquire and I traveled north, to Traverse City. This was our first weekend away, together, since the January before Isaiah's death eight years ago. In part, that is because we both enjoy home a good great deal. In other part, I think we both forgot how good and relaxing it can feel to move in paths outside the norm - and how amazing the food can be!
So, many of you may be wondering what The Mancub's unschooling days will look like while I am away. I assure you, I am excited to find out. We have approached this as a family adventure, and one that will benefit all three of us, both in the short run and in the long run. J. has some really interesting avenues to pursue while I'm away. Last year found him playing the drums in a band, but this summer has found him at Open Mic nights, playing bass guitar in a cover band with friends. They're moving into creating more original music, so he's learning to write bass lines.

In Holland, he continues to volunteer with the library once a week, but is switching days to accommodate another volunteer opportunity. A friend who lives five houses down from us runs a non-profit that rehabs houses in the neighborhood and they also host a tool lending library. J. has expressed interest in carpentry, so he'll be volunteering with, and learning from, the mix of people that work with that org. He'll have more time with Miss Pip, the pictured lab/pitty and he has running and swimming plans he wants to keep up on.

In Grand Rapids, The Esquire has some connections that The Mancub is looking forward to exploring, including possible volunteering with The Michigan House during Art Prize (a project The Esquire developed at SXSW last year, involving a showcase of Michigan arts, music, etc.). The Esquire also works with a local recording studio, StoneHouse Records, set in an old stone house right downtown, where J. can learn some of the recording/local music ropes.

Together, they have plans to practice J.'s driving skills, take in lots of classic movies/discussions, and go to see as much local music as they can fit in. J., even as a child, has liked a great deal of independence. He knows that when he's ready he wants to move to New York (I see reflections of his father). I see this four month adventure allowing him to explore further independence in a safe space - and after working through some challenges on my end this summer - I trust in who he is, in our ability to navigate whatever life brings, and most of all, I trust in the connection that I have with him as his mother and as his friend. He's pretty freakin' awesome.

So, the story is that we're all going to be learning a lot. This four month sojourn is a period of transition for all three of us. The Esquire is transitioning into life without either of his parents and pondering what the future may hold. The Mancub is transitioning evermore into the life he envisions for himself, one full with friends and music and service. And I, I am transitioning into life as a mother who has a lot less hands-on mothering to do but is still ever-present, as someone who has a career she is passionate about, as a wife who, after 15 years of everything life could throw at us, knows that a four-month pause in physical presence is not going to break us.

I'm also transitioning into life as a ukelele player - because four months of nights without my menfolk, folks. Four months. This is not good bye. This is just life on steroids.

"Leaving is powerful medicine that I’m doing my best to open to. I’m trying to let it open me, dissolve the places I hold back, the stories I hide about people not liking me, me not belonging, and most of all, to remind me that every moment is a goodbye of sorts.
Maybe saying goodbye is just life on steroids."  Jennifer Louden

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