Over the past several months, even before we left for China, I've been feeling like I'm wandering without direction. For almost an entire year leading up to the adoption, our lives were consumed with paperwork, homestudy, grant applications, budgeting, selling a house, moving, unpacking, more paperwork, and waiting. A lot of our schoolwork and anything resembling a "normal" schedule went out the window during those months.
Once we had settled into our new place, we also reached the end of our paper chase and began the couple of months of just waiting. During that time, I purposed to get a lot accomplished, but didn't. I think that waiting time began my season of wandering. (Yes, I mean wandering and not wondering, although a lot of that was going on, too.)
Almost immediately after we started the adoption process, I started dumping outside responsibilities. At the time I was serving on the board of our amazing homeschool co-op, facilitating our monthly homeschool support meetings, teaching a for-credit ASL class, and co-managing the kids' summer swim team. I ended my summer commitment with the swim team and let them know I'd slowly bow out over the year and that someone else would need to lead the summer '11 season. I wrote a letter to our co-op board to say I could no longer sacrifice the huge time commitment it required. I began looking for a replacement to take my ASL students that wanted to continue one more semester. Our homeschool support group went through a transition during the time I began seeking a replacement to plan and facilitate the meetings and I slowly reduced my involvement with that group. In addition to all of that, I stopped going to my boot camp class I had been attending three times per week. (In 2010, "boot" and "camp" were in my top 5 most-used words in my Facebook status updates.)
Letting go of those things was the right thing to do. I have no regrets! I needed that time before our China trip to pour into my birth kids. We spent a lot of time (aimless as it might have been) taking trips here locally, playing outside, and just hanging out together. Once we moved, then after we brought the boys home, it was crucial that I had nothing going on other than focusing on my family.
However, now that our family is getting settled, I'm feeling disconnected form outside life.
Because of the season of life I'm in (nearing 40, newly-expanded family, major life-changing move, and weight gain that ticks me off greatly), I've been experiencing days feeling very low. I've blogged before about how I don't like using the word "depressed" lightly, so I don't think I'll use it here. But I've been feeling dark, low, melancholy, aimless, and tired.
I know a few naysayers are thinking, "Why did she adopt 2 kids? She's too overwhelmed." To you, I say, "Ppppht! This is real life. I had short seasons of this type of feeling all through my life at different stages. I adore my family, my husband and ALL FIVE of my kids. I've known myself all my life and the number of kids I have has nothing to do with my own moods I'm having at the moment, thank you very much." (I know naysayers are out there because these very things have been said to me directly, so I wanted to make myself clear.)
I have an excellent husband. While I've been sitting back, hoping he'd just read my mind and my moods, he's kinda been clueless. He travels. A lot lately. When he is home, I don't want to be cranky and whiney (trust me, I've played that game before and it's no fun for anyone), so I just buck up and deal with my feelings on my own. Since I didn't tell him how I've been feeling, he didn't know. Go figure.
The problem with not telling him or someone is that is the feelings just fester and grow. Due to the festering, I've been feeling, really for the first time in my life, bouts of not only aimlessness, but anger. Real anger that I physically feel burning in my chest. For me, I spew ugliness out of my mouth when I'm angry and my older kids have gotten to receive the brunt of my anger, especially this last week.
My kids keep me in check and humble me to my knees. Just today, after having a much better couple of days, I told the kids I was sorry I had been in such a bad mood over the past few weeks. They said, "You haven't been in a bad mood! You're the nicest mom!" Hannah sent me an email card that told me I was the best mom ever and she was lucky I was her mom. *heartbreak* I sure hadn't felt like the best mom.
So what am I going to do about this darkness I feel I'm walking in right now? Well, first of all, I did tell my husband what I've been feeling. I made sure he understood that none of the feelings I have come from anything he or the kids do. It's just how I'm feeling. I almost wish it was something he or the kids were doing. Then they could just quit and I'd feel better, right?
Ken encouraged me to get out once or twice a week, whether it be to work, attend our monthly support group meeting (which I am beginning to facilitate again), exercise or just have some time alone to blog, work on school plans, or have quiet time to seek God's direction. Along those lines, I took a day last week to fast and pray about what God wants me to do and how He'd have me do those things. That prayer led to an answer just today when a friend emailed me about going to boot camp. She's willing to drive an hour to attend and that put my 15-minute drive excuse to shame. It was just the support I was praying for. I know God will provide the same help to me for homeschooling, time management, and other areas in which I'm struggling right now. Ken is right here by my side as well and I need to lean on him more than I do instead of trying "not to bug him."
Here are some encouraging reminders from God's Word related to some of the feelings I've been having:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.
When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.