Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: regret

On Not Being There

My newsfeed erupted in photos capturing one of the most joyous occasions of my family’s shared history. I have to ignore Facebook altogether to avoid crumbling because it’s painful to be reminded over and over how I wasn’t there.

I didn’t smell the dust and beer and sweat of a day’s worth of celebration. I didn’t hear the jokes and laughter anticipating the big race. I didn’t pet Limelight Beach to give him a pep talk or a congratulatory hug. I didn’t see the horse take off out of the gate. I didn’t get a jab in the ribs when he never let up. No one hugged me in celebration and my cheeks didn’t burn from smiling in the hours following the winner’s circle picture.

Pile this atop the growing list of the ways in which I’m limited by my present reality. Living far from family with a gaggle of young children results in multiple occasions of sitting out the opportunities presented.

“It was just a horse race,” we can try to convince ourselves. (Yet all of the harness racing junkies will vomit in their mouth a little when I refer to the Jug as “just a race.”) Sporting event or not, the family experienced together. It will go in the books as something akin to Cruise 2000. My face will be absent in the pictures because I got the van fixed instead. Not by choice, but a result of circumstance.

Which is where it gets tricky. It was our choice, or so I hear, to have all these kids and move away and attempt to do this unassisted by kin. And while we mostly chose the size of our family and the way in which we spend our days, aware our life won’t share all similarities as others, we didn’t get any fine print to examine.

We anticipated having to rethink the way in which we vacation. We knew Christmas would be consistently small. It’s always been clear we would have to make hard decisions in regard to how we spend our time, specifically around extra-cirricular involvement by our kids. It was obvious money would always be in short supply. We weighed those decisions and found them worthy trades of the added personalities to our little homestead.

I love the little buggers, but nothing prepared me for the heartache of missing life’s moments like Thursday because we couldn’t find an all-day sitter. I wouldn’t trade our little big family for anything, but that doesn’t mean I can easily brush aside my frustrations. Joys outweigh hardships, but the challenges can still be heavy.

Similar to how it’s hard to say I’m pregnant, it’s difficult to share my feelings of frustration – I feel I don’t have a right to complain about the circumstances of life which I chose. Any parent is free to express feelings about challenges of kids, but the number of kids you have increases, so does the times you hear “well, you chose that” when you say these things out loud. As a result, I feel I must be silent about what keeps me up at night.

(Except for this blog, where I get to voice what ails me and put words to the feelings I didn’t fully realize until I start typing.)

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it’s not you, it’s me

when i left my role as youth director at the church, it was weird. everything. was weird. i never really viewed my job as my identity, but i moved to upper sandusky directly in that role as youth director. no one in upper, especially “my kids” ever knew me as simply michele. i was michele, the youth director.

so when i was no longer michele, the youth director and instead simply “michele”, relationships seemed to change. conversations evolved. i felt like people viewed my exit as youth director as also an exit from interest in their lives. i felt shut down; shut out.

when we moved to findlay and decided to plug into st. pauls, my friend mark was very good about letting me move at my own pace and help with the youth. i’ve always wanted to be the #1 volunteer – who gets to say no to things i don’t like, who doesn’t have to be the bad guy about the rules, all of that. but it’s also hard to know where the scheme of things you fit best. i’ve done it all in youth ministry, but not all of it well. so just because i can do and have done something doesn’t mean that i should. very difficult discernment for someone as intense as i.

just in the past week i’ve recieved a few communications with “my kids”. all random, mostly due to my initiation. they started slow, and i felt that coldness that i sensed. but after the next message things started to thaw. one of them even said they missed me. there may have been a tear.

i’ve had trouble working myself into new ministry because i think my heart is still healing after the “old” one (old is opposite new, right?). it made me sad that my kids didn’t need, didn’t want me around anymore. getting to know new kids? well, let’s just say i don’t handle rejection well so i just don’t try. truthfully i think that’s what all the snobby girls do, it’s their secret. after i discovered it i found it to be my defense mechinism of choice.

after talking to a few of my kids, though, i think i need a change of perspective. they weren’t cold all along. i was. they never shut down – i did. i worried how they might think of me differently so i gave them a reason to think differently – i disappeared.

there’s lots of things in life i wish i could do differently with new perspective. there’s lots of things in that job i wish i had done differently. there’s a list of things about leaving that job that i wish i had done differently. but i guess such experience is always a lesson for next time – if nothing else, that i need to have a next time.

so in venturing into new students, lives that are around me now… maybe i just need to remember that it did matter. it probably doesn’t matter now, but at the moment it did. and it can matter now in this newness, if i let it. if i open up to it.

**edit: i had some car time this evening and got to thinking: what do teachers do about this? you spend a year in the life of a child, and then the next year some younger, hipper version breaks out the newest trends in cursive writing and the days of the Q and U wedding are in the yearbooks. are you trained well in being last years’ forgotten hero? or does the prospect of a new class just bring fresh hope?

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