Go Slay All the Dragons That Stand in Your Way

Friday, August 26, 2022


Feels like old times sitting down to a laptop, a cup of coffee, and a chill in the air. I started blogging when we lived in Alaska and I was by myself a lot. The darkness felt constant in the winter with the sun not even fully rising around 10am and horizontally moving a bit before it dipped right back down before 2pm. I've known isolation before. I've known lonely. Jordan was away from our little cabin in the woods a lot in those days. It was just me and some dogs (and the moose that visited our yard weekly). 

Recently, I told some friends that I googled "midlife crisis" and while it's a bit funny, it's also true. A few weeks ago when school was starting up in Tennessee, I was at such a low point that I was trying to determine how fast I could drive home with the kids and enroll them back in their public school they attended years ago. There was a picture that popped up in my memories lately that was of my sister, my best friend, and me plus all our little babies walking into the school to sign the oldest kids in for pre-k. I remember wishing that I could just drop off like all the other students instead of unbuckling my four kids under six and maneuvering across traffic to get them in, but every day I saw my sister, my bestie, my nephews and niece, and a whole host of people who were truly for my children as I walked inside. I had help. I had community. People did life with me. It's hard to re-create that when we move somewhere new. In the military, we had built in community. It's small enough that we almost always knew someone else that was stationed at the same place. If not, we were in similar circumstances with new folks and could jump right into friendships because we all knew the value of time.

This mountain we're on now looks beautiful from your point of view because you see what I share. I share the lovely- the pictures of freshly fallen snow, brilliant wildflowers, the Snow White- like yard where deer come up to our deck daily,  National Parks people wait their whole lives to be able to see, etc. I don't show when I can't drag myself from the bed because I miss my people. I don't show how the house falls into disarray because I'm trying to balance motherhood, homeschooling, marriage, fitness, attending the largest laundry mountain you've ever seen, and all the other things that I try to manage. The mountain can be isolating, though and sometimes this beautiful gift we've been given to live in the Rockies feels more like a prison. I don't share that because even reading the sentence back in my head feels icky. We GET to do this.

I'm writing all this out so you know- life isn't perfect for anyone. In the past, people have shared with me that they don't like who I portray online. I can't really help that. I don't pretend to be perfect or have the perfect life, but I do share what I think will make you smile when you see it. It's hard to listen to someone complain all the time and that's not what I want to see or share when I pick up my phone.
Instead of a midlife crisis that I'm going to try really hard not to have (ha!), I've determined that perhaps I just feel unmotivated. I've always done something every year or been working toward something big every year and I don't have that right now. One year it was- "I'm going to start homeschooling!" Or "I'm going to run a marathon!" And another and another. Then, I was so focused on the adoption. Now that everyone is under one roof, I feel unfocused on something/anything I can do for me and my mental health. I know this is just a stage and it's quite likely I would've been bored in Tennessee right now, too. The beauty of this stage and the value of life-long learning that we're trying to instill in our kids is that we have time right now to learn something new, to explore places we've never been, and develop the mental grit it takes to get through difficult times. The freedom I feel in that grounds me. Whether it's getting through deployments, navigating life with kids who have extra needs, moving for the millionth time, completing an international adoption, or figuring out life with five children- it's going to be okay. Life is still good. Hard but not without hope. 
"Take a few chances, a few worthy romances
Go swimming in the ocean, on New Year's Day
Don't listen to the critics
Stand up and bear witness
Go slay all the dragons that stand in your way"
(-Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors)

Your school choice is not a moral one.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The aspen leaves are twinkling as they do with the slight breeze that's blowing my hair and the sun shield I'm sitting underneath. The mountain is warm today. I woke up around seven a.m. having pre arranged the coffee to start with the push of a button, making it easier to head straight to the front porch to enjoy my morning sugar and beans. The baby slept in a bit so after my coffee I decided it was late enough in the morning to go out for a run. I try to avoid early mornings and evenings because of the mountain lions and more recently we've had bear activity so I've stayed closer to home. It was a quick run, but it gave me about twenty minutes to think and what I was thinking about was school choice, of all things.

I'm not entirely shy about discussing how difficult this transition to Colorado has been for me. My aim is to be positive with the opportunities we've been given, but I told my husband last week that I just want something easy for once. Easy is the comfort of our Tennessee roots to me. Not only did we grow up there, we've spent the last seven and a half years there. I knew what to expect. I knew who I could call on on dark days. I had therapies and doctors in order there. I had a homeschool community.

It's different here and when I tearily explained to my mom last week, 'I just need some help', she didn't chastise me for homeschooling in the first place OR discourage public schooling. She just listened and said she was supportive in whatever I would choose for our family. That is so incredibly rare to hear. I have a few friends that I can talk to about it and they reiterate that sentiment, too, both public school teachers & parents, private school parents, and fellow homeschooling mamas.

The thing is, we all bring our personal experiences and opinions to the table and some people feel so strongly one way or another that they can't help but spout off what they think. On the flip side, we can hold so strongly to those convictions, we can begin to think the other side is doing it wrong.

I'm just here to say that your school choice is not a moral one. 

There are a million different ways to live your life and a million different ways to be a good mother. Your freedom to choose what is best for your child and family is one you should exercise. It's easy for me to look at all the back to school photos posted online today and think that perhaps my children could be missing out on some rite of passage. I'm sure it's equally easy for some of you to see all of our adventures together and your mind will go to all the time you feel you might be missing with having them at school. Let's stop comparing!

I firmly believe that most of us are doing the best we can and operating from that viewpoint, we're choosing the best route for our own children and their education. As for my family, we take it year by year. We ask ourselves, is this still working? What do the kids prefer? What can we eliminate? What can we add?

Bad days are okay. You might want to assess the number of bad days you (or your child) is having, but don't dwell on them if there are more good ones than bad. Take notes. You're allowed to not have it all together all the time.

You're probably a good mom if your kids are being homeschooled. You're probably a good mom if you choose to send them to public school or private school. You are making the best choice for your kids even if it's hard! Give yourself some grace. 

Just like you can't bank on your morality with the clothes you choose to wear, the food you prepare, and the cleanliness of your home- you also can't align yourself with one school of choice and believe you are better for it. You're a good mom when you look at the needs of your children and rise to meet them in whatever capacity they might come in.

Happy Back-to-School, Mamas! You've got this.