Life as a river

I was going to start this blog post with some poetic musing about life being a winding road and how we don’t always end up where we thought we would. But even winding roads lead somewhere: a ditch, a dead-end, another road, a pretty little cabin in the woods. Life is a series of decisions which have ramifications, consequences, and more decision points. Days grow into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and suddenly you are 43 wondering where the heck it is you’re going. Sorry, am I talking to myself again?

My husband and I have changing our minds and correcting course down to an art form. Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break. In our 20 years of marriage, we’ve owned more cars than we can remember, we moved 10 times within the Ottawa area, bought big houses, sold big houses, bought little houses, sold little houses, rented houses, gutted main floors, finished basements and built from scratch. I have been a student-mom, a stay-at-home mom, a homeschooler, a failed homeschooler, a graduate-student mom, a full-time working mom, a part-time working mom. My husband has worked full-time, part-time, homeschooled when I could not, supported my pipe dreams and ambitions. He has started companies, joined companies, left companies, owned companies, sold companies. In the middle of all this, we had 9 children and lost two to miscarriage. We have lifestyle ADHD I think.

While I envy people who relentlessly pursue one thing, I am pleased by our ability to roll with the punches. We relentlessly pursue the stability of our family, no matter the personal cost. We may not have taken our respective careers in measurably successful paths — unless paying bills counts, which it should — but we know why. When my daughter asked me why I had not pursued a musical, legal or political career, despite my affinities for all three, I told her that I chose my family at every fork in the road. These are not career paths with stable incomes, regular hours and holidays. Each involves a good amount of damning the torpedoes. Maybe life’s road is not so winding after all, it’s more like a river, digging its bed by force of repeated decisions. We follow a road to where it leads us but the river digs its own bed, just like we make our lives to our image.

Last week, my husband and I met with the principal of the nearest French elementary school. See, we’re sending the children back to school after Christmas. With our two teenage daughters starting high school last September, this marks the end of our homeschooling journey. You can learn more about our discernment process by listening to my first podcast on discerning homeschooling.

Un-mixing the mixed feeling is a new journey of discovery and reinvention. In my life, I have accomplished things that required effort, things that required self-discipline, things that required commitment, physically demanding things, emotionally demanding things, everything demanding things. I’ve poured myself out and filled myself up all over again. I’ve stumbled, fell, dusted myself up and picked myself up. I never thought I was cut out for homeschooling but I thought I could channel all my brainpower and energy into this one thing and give it some forward momentum. The kind of energy and brain power I used to power a Master’s degree in Law with a breastfeeding infant, my fifth child, in Montreal, while we lived in Ottawa.

In 2016, I taught myself to knit, play the guitar and the piano, use Adobe InDesign and a few other things. But like my Master’s degree, those are things I can control, only limited by the capacity of my brain and the speed of my fingers. I felt called to homeschool and I thought that I could develop that skill just like music or design. As it turns out, I couldn’t. As it turns out, loving your children is not always enough. As it turns out, things are not as simple as they seem. Homeschooling involves other humans and you can’t switch them on and off.

I have wracked my brain wondering why God would call me to something I was so woefully unable to provide. Why give me talents that are of no use to a mother of many, that stay bottled-up inside, stuck in my throat? Why give me a writing talent I don’t have time to use? Why give me a musical talent I can’t develop? Why give me 9 children and talents that involve quiet introspection? Why wasn’t I equipped with what I needed to answer this call? I don’t know. Either God made a mistake (unlikely) or I’m not humble enough to see the wisdom in the plan (very likely). Or maybe the call was to greater humility, masquerading as a call to homeschool. Maybe homeschooling was the light post I was supposed to walk into.

So my life flows on like a river, part water, part banks, unsure if I am the constraints or the current. At times spectator and actor, it lives me as much as I live it.

4 thoughts on “Life as a river

  1. Hi Veronique. I have been following your journey for awhile now but have never commented. Thanks for being real. I recall an earlier homeschooling blog post you wrote in which you mentioned that you have to make sure your marriage and mental health are both strong because working on those first will do more for your kids than homeschooling. Hope I am paraphrasing that OK. It is still possible to have a family-centred focus in everything even as the kids go off to school outside the home. The home and the relationships within it can still make all the difference to our kids. I hear about so many kids struggling with mental health and addiction and I am convinced we need a major shift in our societal values. Anyway enough of my blathering on but please know that there are people out here who relate! I wish you peace!

    1. Thank you Lisa for following our journey and for chiming in! Yes, I believe that having a strong marriage and a healthy mind are more beneficial to children than homeschooling. Sometimes I need to remind myself! So thank you for your kind words and good wishes.

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