Confession time! I remember a short period of time when mine and my brother’s bedroom was divided by this strange wooden divider. The layout of our room was regularly changed. It was my spontaneous mother’s way. She often refreshed our home by changing the position of furniture in a room, however this divider came and went rather rapidly. I remember standing on my bed during our regimented afternoon rest time and spitting, sniper-style, at my brother in his bed over the top of the divider. Disgusting child! It was a game, and he retaliated back with sniping spit. How else did one occupy yourself for half an hour every day when you had to stay on your bed and rest? The divider soon disappeared!
Families! There is nothing quite like them; a sanctified institute. I have found myself internally celebrating the beauty of ‘family’ in recent weeks and I know it is because we are heading rather rapidly towards Junction All Change for us as a family. Longshanks is taking significant steps in flying the nest with the privilege of being offered an apprenticeship, approximately four hours away. One of the joys of home educating him has been that he can walk an unorthodox path and pursue his passion as part of his education; a naturally kinaesthetic learner his education has centred a lot on practical activity and he is still most contented when he has things to do. That this has led to him pretty much leaving home at 16 might seem unusual yet I have had a number of conversations with secure and successful friends who when they think about it say, “Well, I left home when I was 16”. And our young man is ready to do just that. He is unique and true to himself, meaning we’re all confident these are the right steps for him to take.
However, I can sense a little uncertainty in the air that approaching Junction All Change brings and no number of bags of confidence can annihilate. Identifying with whom the uncertainty begins is tricky and my guess it is with both him and me – the first born stepping into the unknown and his anticipation of starting a new season of life. I am excited for him and enjoy seeing his excitement. I also trust his judgement entirely, in that I trust the decisions he will make for himself will be wise ones. But this uncertainty has led to us saying odd and unnecessary things – almost a bit like spitting. There’s no unkindness in it. It’s just a little uncertainty makes us snipe at one another. And that is part of the joy of being family. Family is where we can be ourselves and vent our uncertain emotions yet still be accepted and respected for who we are – at least that is how it should be!
See, there goes pride, arm in arm with ambition and trepidation, closely followed by gratitude and contentment. Behind them come nostalgia and significance. Looking through some old videos the other day, I encountered a 4 year old Longshanks independently fending off any help from grown-ups as he led a 16 hand thoroughbred out of the stable, insisting he could do it on his own. I thought it was a good summary of his spirit of independence and his love of working with horses.
I have been noticing how much I value the contentment of being family. I think it possibly has far greater impact on our well-being than I realised. When external circumstances unsettle us, having contentment weighs down and secures our otherwise ‘might-be-volatile’ moments.
The other evening our ongoing unresolved car saga was being discussed with the family. A vehicle suitable as a run-around was located, within our budget but way over-priced for what it is (hence not purchasing it), meanwhile our faithful mechanic offers us a great car that we can’t afford. There was a bit of discontent and disagreement (a little bit of spitting on my part) but the content came in the humour used to discuss how we might raise some money to purchase the unaffordable. When various bodily organs were being proposed as possible sale-able items by family members, I realised that the conversation had tipped over the edge into the realm of the ridiculous. Our car saga remains unresolved but the contentment of being family is untouched.
Contentment lives where there is love. The truth of this verse stands out, and I really value the contentment of being family. No matter what we can or can’t afford, the value of love and contentment is priceless.
Better a dish of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred.
I hope that as Longshanks gets off at Junction All Change, he will have plenty of love and contentment packed in his bags to help anchor him through anything that might unsettle him!