When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?
Outwardly, my life is diametrically opposed to anything I could have imagined as a teenager. Yet this strange life I find myself living has brought me more fulfilment and joy than I ever could have imagined.
At sixteen, I was still an avid reader, who loved school. As expected, I completed an Honours Degree in English Literature. By 23, my life was still on track. I considered continuing my studies as a graduate student because I still loved everything about academia. The relaxed but challenging experience of reading Chaucer and Old English in the original vernacular with only one other student in a professor’s office was invigorating. This teacher was delighted to find two students interested in his life’s work
I loved my life and didn’t for see any changes. I had grown up with one sister, ballet lessons and a library filled with great fiction. I enjoyed gardening, painting and drawing, eating a vegetarian diet, reading spiritual literature and growing in my faith ; I was content.
Suddenly, my life as I knew it, changed dramatically.
I met Michael, who was just passing through Regina, Saskatchewan from Ottawa, Ontario to Prince George, British Columbia and from that very first, it felt like the prairie wind had swooped down and scattered all my work and plans. Michael described our first meeting in much kinder terms; he saw fireworks when he first laid eyes on me.
I was not ready for this dramatic change in my life but it was clear to me that this was my call. So I baffled my fellow students, profs, advisors, friends and family by saying yes to the unexpected. I did not know anything about my newly chosen lifestyle or even where we would live. I did realize that I was completely ignorant and lacked even the most basic skills required to survive.
I became pregnant before our first wedding anniversary. Instantly, I began to panic because I knew, that once again, I was utterly unprepared. I had never even held a newborn! So I prepared in the only way I knew how and I read every book I could find on pregnancy, birth and baby care.
However all this studying did little to equip me to mother a fragile, completely dependent newborn. For example, as I held my baby in a small bathtub for his first bath, I was very nervous. Guess what? I had a book propped open with one elbow awkwardly holding it open to the right page, while my baby was in the baby bathtub on the table. The book was my security blanket. In fact reading at any odd moment I could grab a few seconds , strong cups of tea plus the mercy of God and a wicked sense of humour have been my strength.
In the ensuing years, 18 spent pregnant and/or nursing babies, I discovered fulfilment. My call, vocation and witness became the joy of mothering children. Perhaps I could have started writing seven years ago when everyone was in school full-time but realistically there was simply too much physical work involved in running a household for eleven people and helping with the farm animals and our large vegetable garden.
Now I have come around full circle because I have started writing again. Just as I imagined at 16. It just took 40 years of living a strange life before this avid reader and crazy oral story-teller was ready to start writing.