It would seem as if we’ve arrived at the end of an era. I have had a long run at this blog — almost 9.5 years. But it looks like it is time to close up shop in some form or another.
The heyday of vandermeander.com happened when I was pregnant with Olivia, when I was the self-doubting, frustrated mom of young children (who looked pretty good in a bikini at 9 months pregnant). When we moved to Manitoba for seminary blogging got less frequent. I think I was still saying some good things, but the blog was slipping on the priority list. By the time we got to Alberta it was almost off the list. (I’m not sure I even had a list anymore.)
I’ve blogged so infrequently these past two years, and even when I’ve been inspired about a topic, I haven’t bothered to sit down and write. Plus, what I write feels a lot more personal. Maybe that sounds funny since I used to share everything online (seriously, search any word in the side bar, you’re likely gonna find it), but the little bits I write now feel like a lot more of me is being exposed. Plus, now I am a professional and employed counsellor and having a google search of my name come up with pictures and stories about every area of my life just isn’t a good idea anymore.
So it’s time. And, on the one hand, I sit here on the verge of tears because this has been a good little place for me for almost a decade, I have made some wonderful online friends who’ve become real-life friends, and I know a lot of people have appreciated my words… but, on the other hand… all of those things I just said above. It’s just time.
And so today I sit here in my kitchen in Alberta (in a place I didn’t know I would be when I started this), and think about all that has happened over these years… So much has happened in our family — we’ve moved three times across three different provinces. Marc and I both got Masters degrees and professions. We’ve watched our kids grow from babies into school kids and are now counting the years before Madeline heads off to university. (Six more years. Six.)
And so lots has changed and we’ve changed. But in so many ways we’re all still the same. We still can’t really keep our house clean. The kids still get annoyed when someone else is chewing too loud (but almost all of them chew too loud). We’d still rather spend an hour in a bookstore than almost anything else.
And me. I know I’m not the same mother who started typing out her thoughts when Luke, her second baby, was just a few months old. I really didn’t know what I was in for. And, if I remember correctly, I was pretty sure of myself as a mother when it was just Madeline. And so this blog kind of coincides with the beginning of the mom doubts. And the doubts remain.
I had a rather insightful conversation with my boss last week. I told her that I hoped sometime I would stop driving to work and thinking about the day ahead and the people I would see with the thoughts, “I can’t do this” repeating in my head. I really hoped I’d find some confidence, or at the very least, not be plagued by lack of confidence. And she replied, “But, Dixie! That’s how you do everything! That’s how you parent your kids, that’s how you live with Marc. The point is that you don’t let the doubts stop you from doing what you do.”
It was the big Oprah “aha” moment for me: not the second part that she said, the first. It was the first thing she said: the simple statement that I do everything with self doubt. And that’s been true for a long time. Sometimes I’ve let that stop me from doing things, other times I haven’t.
What I’ve realized is that my doubt is internal and rarely influenced by the externals. People validating and encouraging me can lessen my doubts occasionally, but they are still there. I can do things that repeatedly prove that I CAN do things, but the thought process is still “I can’t.” How many times do I need to graduate at the top of my class before I will think that I am capable?!
And it’s the same with being a mom. I ran into a friend who I’d been close with when my kids were small and she commented that she always thought I’d have more kids because I was such a good mom. My thought was, “How’d I miss that memo?!” “Why didn’t somebody tell me I was a good mom?!” But the truth was I know some people did… I just didn’t (or couldn’t) believe it.
You see, I’m “The Little Engine That Couldn’t But Then Does.”
Does that make sense? Like I chug along, “I think I can’t. I think I can’t. I think I can’t. I’ll probably mess up. I’ll probably mess up. I’ll probably mess up. Oh. I guess I did it. I guess I did it. I guess I did it.”
Does that “I think I can’t” help me at all? Nope. But it’s always there. I can see it as a I scroll through the history of this blog.
My hope is that I can slowly start to be a little more kind to myself: “I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best. I’ll do my best.”
And I don’t necessarily want to stop writing. But this particular (very detailed, very public) part of my life needs to be laid to rest. And so, in the next little while, I will likely make it password protected so that it’s still there but secure.
Truthfully, in some ways, I feel a bit ashamed of who I was for a lot of those blog years. But I do recognize that I have just gone through a very formative decade of my life. And part of the growing up in that time is to recognize that who I was before, in the midst, and after all of those changes is okay.
My hope is that my own vulnerability in this space has helped you see that you are okay. Or at least know that you’re not alone. You can do it.
I guess I did it, too.