Friday, April 28, 2017

In These Changes | A Collective Reflection on a Journey Not Yet Defined

A Collective Reflection

"I only enjoy change when it's on my terms. "

This was something I said aloud to myself 3 months ago. It was 4:47AM & I was getting ready to head to work. In those moments of solitude in the morning, my  wandering thoughts remind me that I've never been able to truly embrace the silence. 
The words I uttered in the shadows of morning were an acknowledgment of how truly challenging the past few months have been. In the end of September 2016, Justin was laid off from his full-time job. 
It was sudden. Unexpected. But really, who plans to be unemployed? The truth was, we could of prepared better, we could of put more money into savings, we could of handled our debt sooner. But we hadn't & suddenly we were faced with the uncertainty of the unknown.
Alaska's changing economy was in part to blame for Justin's lay-off & over the month's we swore, we fought, we struggled. Ultimately, being almost on the other side of it all, it was just what we needed. 
"I feel like a single parent without any of the benefits."
I carried that mentality around with me for 5 years. August 4th, 2012. Our wedding anniversary. 2017 will be our 5th year of marriage & we have not arrived here easily.
We returned to Alaska 4 days after we tied the knot, a road-trip journey through Canada with the kids was our "honeymoon", & it set the tone for what was to come. 
When we arrived home Justin immediately returned to work & there I was, a mother of wolves who didn't know the first thing about being a mother or someone's wife. Justin was constantly out of town working & bit by bit I had to figure things out, without ease or grace or poise, most decisions were made rapidly, impulsively & in a state of cause & effect. 
I struggled with the balance of doing things on my own when Justin was gone & then allowing him to be a part of our lives when he was home. I am ferociously independent, so when faced with rearing children without their father's daily presence, I just went for it. Then I faced moments of frustration & anger when Justin was home & wouldn't do things MY way. 
"This isn't the life I wanted for myself."
March 2009. I withdrew my enrollment from college & had no actual plans for my future. My entire life was built upon a college degree, so when I changed the plan, I had no realistic approach to what came next. 
After months of working 2-3 jobs, I landed on a dream opportunity to come work in Alaska for a summer. I'd be able to finally visit one of my top 10 destinations & make a commitment to something without actually committing to anything. 
If I'm being honest, I've always been a billion percent impulsive when it comes to relationships. When Justin came into the picture, I went for it. Our relationship bloomed from our desire to just be together. It was our greatest blessing & our biggest challenge. 
Time moved forward. Kids. Our engagement. A blended family. Marriage. 
All of a sudden 2009 became 2014 & I had no idea whose life I was in. Was it mine? Did I choose to be here or did I arrive here by not making any choices at all? 
My life has always been composed of seasons of adventures & waves of reality. I had never had an appropriate place to channel all of my random experiences & skills. Along came our wolf pack. I had never felt more suited for anything in my life. 
My motherhood journey has been filled with seasons of adventures & crashing waves of reality. All of my pre-motherhood experiences, from reading to an audience to knowing how to properly roll a kayak have added up to the sum of loving being someone's mother. 
I had always found the idea of choosing a career with a blind approach to what I actually wanted to be when I grew up to be quite the impossible task. Now, I can state with confidence & an assured sense of self, that Motherhood was my ultimate destiny. 
"We made it."
Nothing reality checks your ass more than 7 months of unemployment. Justin & I both had to face some less than wonderful things about ourselves & our marriage over the past months. While he went without I work, I returned to working. I found a bit more of myself that allowed me to appreciate pure motherhood just a bit more. 
Financially we had to put some plans into place. For not only our futures, but the kids' as well. They are plans in progress, as Justin has just very recently returned to work. Each day he goes, I hold my breath a bit waiting for a phone call that changes our lives again. 
I had lived in a state of expecting him to always be working, he assures me he never felt the same way himself & that we should of been prepared for anything to happen. He's not wrong. In my past I had been called a pessimist more than once, so once I hit 20 I approached everything with forced optimistic enthusiasm. Now, I know a healthy dose of both is necessary to surviving in this world. I suppose some would deem me a realist, I'm still adjusting to the label. 
What comes next? 
I still consider our lives to be in a state of change. As the days tick by I feel more comfortable about settling into this new chapter of life we're in. I've taken some of my own advice & accepted help in any form it's offered. I've had to let many things go & opened my mindset when it comes to letting life just be. 
While I'm excited for the near future, I still hold these last months with heavy significance. I brace myself daily for another change that will send us into a free-fall of chaos, struggle & upset. My anxiety tingles in the background of every move I make. With each passing day I remind myself that no matter what, we will be just fine, we have each other & we choose each other, every single day. 
I made a choice to be someone's mother & I made the choice to be someone's wife.
Frequently, I remind myself of this by revisiting the words that were spoken over us on our wedding day.
"Marriage is a supreme sharing of experience and an adventure in the most intimate of human relationships. Marriage is a journey of combined hopes and personal plans, great expectations and difficult negotiations, a single path taken together."
Often, I read our vows to center my soul.
I, take you to be my husband/wife, my partner in life & my one true love. 
I will cherish our friendship & love you today, tomorrow, & forever. 
I will trust you & honor you.
I will laugh & cry with you. 
I will love you faithfully through the best & the worst, through the difficult & the easy. 
Whatever may come I will always be there.
 As I have given you my hand to hold, so I give you my life to keep.

While I may not be able to rush into the future with blind optimism, I know, that no matter what is placed at our feet, we will be just fine as long as we are together. With Justin I'm given the opportunity to be a better version of myself every single day. I may not be able to control every detail or have change be on my terms, but I can be wise in my approach & guide my reactions to the challenges we will certainly face.
If you've read this far, Thank-You. I had no actual plans for beginning to write on this blog again, but now I'm reminded of why I used to adore the process so very much. There will be more to come, quite soon. Stay tuned.