Divorce: Feeling lost but being found

Saying goodbye to dreams in increments tends to cloud your memory of how you came to these decisions in the first place. I never imagined a life in which my children were not always with me in my home. I didn't set out to put myself at odds with my family and friends. Yet here I am, this week bidding adieu to my yellow farmhouse at a new level.

I never wanted to change the man I married. I never wanted to change my children. They all came to me - the man, his children - foreign, wholly other beings brimming over with themselves from the moment I first laid eyes on them. Why would I change creatures who fascinate me so? I don't want to change them now, even in this season of loss, as dreams warp and dissipate and relationships break and heal and change.

A person doesn't join another person in life choosing someone to change. A mother doesn't adopt children into her paradigm, but must evolve herself as each new being enters her care. The responsibility of parenthood in it's truest form is to nurture the child that comes into the family, celebrating and honing strengths and cradling weaknesses. I stand against those who've tried to teach me a child must be broken, their will crushed, or their character molded. I looked into the eyes of those babes as they came forth into the awareness of this other world we live in. I saw there the power in their personalities. I heard in their cries and felt in their rhythms their Achille's heels long before I could craft a description of them. I know they were fully and wholly themselves as they came to be, and I can only come alongside each of them as they emerge into the people they were born to become. Whoever that is - however different than my initial visions of them, however "right" or "wrong", healthy or unhealthy I perceive their choices to be, I was joined to them irrevocably as their blood and mine pooled together beneath me in their first minutes of life, the first of many sacrifices to be made so that I might reflect their most beautiful light. I can never forget that in the forge of life itself, in the muck and mire of family life, the diapers and the midnight bleary eyed dances in the kitchen; in the sorrows, losses, triumphs and simple moments of joy - we became ourselves together, these four people and I. This metamorphosis may have been halted somewhere along the way by the trauma of evil for me, yet it is the wisdom of such paralysis that has opened the floodgates for me to spill forth this third decade of my life. Right alongside my growing children.

I am their mother. I will cheer when they succeed (and probably shed a few tears). My heart will break with theirs as this cruel world crashes into theirs in all it's beauty and tragedy this next decade. Their words will pierce deeper than any other arrows into my spirit. And mine could do the same to them. Yet, ever more often, these compassionate little people, wise beyond their years, forged as they've been through suffering - they build me with their words. Caleb, with his sudden, fierce hugs, harshly whispers, "You're the best mama in the whole world." Amy, who cannot get enough of my skin, who needs me like the rest of us need water. Rosy who is quick to notice my mood and comfort and encourage with a specific strength or joy she noted in me earlier. Katy, who has always been a little me walking around outside my body: yet she is resilient, alert and stalwart in a way I wasn't born to be, and so I see myself, but sturdier, conscious, methodical, loyal.

In reality, I haven't said goodbye to my dreams. They've evolved, as I have, by necessity. I helped build a yellow farmhouse that was supposed to be where I raised a simple Christian family. Dreams can become prisons if they chafe the new, tender parts of you that emerge as you grow. I no longer fit that particular vision for my life: it isn't surprising that the life I made for the old me didn't match the me I found when I finally had the courage to look inside. The house and the dream aren't mine any longer, yet I feathered a nest with memories of comfort and the type of joy that is dancing spontaneously with your arms flung free, and I've left this legacy to reach into my children's futures in their hours apart from me. Some of us are the hermit crabs, shedding shells and walking vulnerable until we find a new home that fits.

I'll hold yin and yang for you, my children, and for myself. I will call twisting reshaping; I will see breaking as gaining perspective; I will try to hold your lives ever in the balance when I work hard to support you but never so hard that you lose me for it. In all this, not to ever lose myself again either, because in losing myself you all lose me, too, and these four at least need me.

It's like coming out of the long Alaskan winter, when the sun never rises. I am shaking the cold off my bones, I'm walking without a visible limp, my laugh has it's ring back. I'd recommend it, a thousand times over, for all it's agony, this journey of self discovery. Find yourself. I promise it's worth it. I promise you're so much more beautiful than you imagine. I promise you'll see what others have seen - however rare, we've all had a friend or two, a family member, a teacher, a coworker, someone who sees us and loves us. You've spent a lifetime already, I imagine, looking for the person inside you that people dislike. Have you ever thought to look for the person others do like? Why not give it a shot?