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Housekeeping notes on a Tuesday

I won’t launch into the familiar script of wow gosh how has that much time passed since I last dropped a line around these parts but…know that I know. And I know, it’s poor blogging form. Except blogging is dead! So I can resurrect this dead horse any old time it works for me and then beat in back into submission with my silence and nobody will care. Because it’s 2022 and the world is in chaos and there are no rules for the internet!

The other day after a particularly trying day of homeschooling (more on that later, she promises, dragging out the suspense…) Dave wondered whether it might be nice for me to start writing again, here and there, and I threw back my head and positively cackled because you know what would be nice? A 40 hour nap and a shower!

But he was right, as he generally tends to be. And his suggestion has been simmering under the surface for the past couple weeks. So, here I am. On day 2 of our summer break (because I’m the boss now), I’m sitting alone on a Tuesday, in a Starbucks, blinking at the unaccustomed silence punctuated by nothing but bad trance music and the hiss of the espresso bar.

For more than a year now I’ve tried to explain to anyone who asked why I wasn’t writing anymore, and I realized it’s a pretty simple explanation: something had to give. All the disruption of covid + adding a sixth baby buried me for all of 2020 and most of 2021, to be perfectly honest. And in His tender mercy, God completely stilled my desire and removed the compulsion to write.

Instead of the typical agony of unspilled words and un-crafted sentences I’d feel building in my brain in seasons past, I felt pretty much nothing. There was a curious – but not unpleasant – emptiness where the desire and energy to write had previously been. While I blessed the peace I found in a quieter and more hidden life at home, I did sometimes wonder where the “real” Jenny had gone.

Now that I’m a little older and a little wiser, I’m beginning to think that maybe these things that we do, these identities which we slip in and out of over the course of a lifetime, have less to do with who we are and more to do with where we are.

So for most of my motherhood thus far, were someone to have asked me what I did, I would immediately answer: I’m a writer. Sometimes freelance, sometimes a featured blogger, sometimes a copywriter, sometimes a content writer for an NFP organization, but always a wordsmith of some kind. I’m also a stay at home mom, I’d add, if they asked, or if the kids were in tow. I work from home, from coffee shops, during nap times. After bedtime. Both parties in these interactions would part ways satisfied. I made sense to them. I made sense to me. And maybe I was even a little proud of myself? A little (or a lot) relieved to have something sensible and socially acceptable to say when people asked “what do you do?”

But now things are a little more complicated, both literally and figuratively.

I’m not primarily identifiable by my work these days, but rather by my role.

I’m still mom, but now I’m also teacher and tutor and disciplinarian and whooooo boy let me tell you, turns out I was unintentionally offloading an awful lot of my parenting work onto our wonderful school. We’ve had some, ahem, remedial corrections and redirections to make over the past several months. I had simply assumed we’d hop right from going to school to doing school at the kitchen table but would’t you know it, it’s a bit more complex than that.

When we pulled our kids from brick and mortar school back in March, I kicked away all the remaining social supports shoring up my work in and around the home and I have been bobbing up and down in the sometimes stormy seas of doing life very, very much together for most of the time.

And…it has been kind of awesome.

Except for the days when it hasn’t. But on both kinds of days, I’ve marveled over the way we’ve completely transformed our daily rhythms and routines. I always laughed off the comments from homeschooling friends about the early mornings and getting everyone out of the house. I mean, yes, getting up in the 5 am hour and hustling butts into dress slacks wasn’t a delightful experience, but it bought me 7 hours of freedom, 5 days a week! Who wouldn’t wake up for that?

But I get it now. And while I have given away much, much freedom in the form of a quiet and clean house and occasional hours to myself, I’ve gained back freedom in other completely unexpected areas.

I’m sure I’ll write more about our homeschooling experience as we, you know, gain actual experience, but for now, it’s working. And while we really miss our friends and staff at our old school, for now, this is the right place for us all. So NEVER SAY NEVER PEOPLE. I am the least likely candidate for homeschooling on earth. I think I maybe have even sworn some oaths against it or made some inner vows over the years? I’m sure I did enter into some formal agreement along those lines in April of 2020 specifically (remote learning cough cough f word other bad words) that I should probably renounce), but choosing in freedom to do something that our kids needed and wanted is a whole different ballgame from being forcibly locked into our houses with a million laptops streaming at once. *Shudders and gazes meaningfully into oblivion.*

Ok gosh, this is getting to be a real novella, so I’ll wrap it up.

And because I don’t think the homeschooling thing was sufficiently shocking to you, here’s a quick rundown of other life events: we also went to Rome for a long weekend, basically, last month, and I think that experience was also a sufficient shock to the system to pick up screen and keyboard again. The whole not drinking thing? Still going strong. It will be 8 months in June and that feels surreal to me. Being back in the land of sun and stress and prosecco was the ultimate test, and somehow I passed. It feels like a significant milestone, for sure, and I’m as surprised as anybody to have ended up here.

Also, we’re Amish now and I milk our suburban cow in a prairie skirt in the backyard every morning before the sun is up. Not really, but WHO KNOWS WHAT COULD BE COMING NEXT? Maybe competitive adult gymnastics! Hedge fund investing! Losing the final 40 pounds of baby weight! The possibilities are truly endless, and all of them are potentially surprising.

I hope you guys are great. I am continuing to move forward with comments closed, I think that chapter of blogging life is over for good. It’s always lovely to hear from the vast majority of you, but moderating the psychos was never my favorite part of the gig. Thanks for being here and for understanding! – Jenny

Last day of school 2022! Woke up to a foot of snow the next morning, hence the wardrobe choices.

And some photo evidence of our whiplash-y trip to the Eternal City:

Obligatory gelato influencer shot.
St. John Paul II. The Lord continues to surprise me with new graces through the intercession of this holy man. The rosary I prayed with him here was worth the entire and occasionally unpleasant effort to get there.
We came, we saw, we conferenced. (And man, are we tired.)

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