Transient once again. . .or still

17 Feb

Yep, as many of you know already, because you know me, we have left St. Louis once again and are living in Iceland for the next 5 1/2 months.  We only just found out we’d be coming a week before Christmas, so in the scramble to get everything sorted out we actually left our house several weeks ago so a renter could move in and have spent the time in between at a weekly rental with Eric’s parents, a friends’ house, and my parents house.  We finally flew out of Nashville on Tuesday and arrived in Reykjavik on Thursday morning, local time.  But in truth, our state of transience never really seemed to go away, even after we returned to the U.S. back in August.   So much has been in flux or in a less-than-certain mode that truly settling in never happened.  You see, the possibility that we might get to come to Iceland this semester always existed, and as a result (this just dawned on us the other day), Eric and I both felt frustrated and overwhelmed by the present and completely unable to settle into anything–not our house, not a routine, not any kind of contentment–throughout the fall.  For me this took the form of hating my house, which seemed to never ever get clean or organized; going mad with the sense that my very active and mobile child was stealing all of my identity by monopolizing my time and energy (and messing up the house), and the inability to commit to certain activities in case I had to leave them.  I also found out in September that I’m expecting again, so first-trimester discomfort and lack of energy, combined with several bouts of illness in the house, turned me into a whimpering little girl on several occasions.

And yet, it finally crystalized in my heart as the plane took off the other day, that all of this fostered in me a dependence on others like I have never ever experienced in my life (or at least as an adult).  Up to this point, even after Everett was born, I had a fierce sense of independence and self-reliance; a determination to make it on my own and basically, to do whatever I wanted.  Marriage changed this a little bit, but having a toddler (as opposed to a complacent, portable baby) changed it completely!  With Eric using our only car 2-3 days out of the week, being alone with this adorable, crazy, into-everything little boy was breaking me down.  Community, human contact, and conversation went from being things I loved and enjoyed to things I could not live without.  And I had to surrender my notions of being a perfect, “got-it-all-together” kind of mom and do things like drop my kid off with friends at the last minute b/c I forgot about an appointment, let a friend come over and help me clean up because the task felt insurmountable, invite myself and my toddler over for a play date and gladly accept if a dinner invitation happened to follow.  So even though I never really felt like I settled back in at our home in St. Louis, it was extra hard to leave this time around.  It felt like much more than leaving a place and rather like leaving a version of myself in which I had grown comfortably reliant on others to remind me of who I am and where my limitations lie.

Watching the snow fall, which it did on and off all day yesterday, from the giant picture window in our current living room

So now a task is before us–find community in this strange place.  I’m already intimidated by the language barrier and the fact that our apartment is located in a part of town which which I am unfamiliar.  But I am still relying on my husband and everyone at home to stay in touch, pray for us, and let me be sad and lonely sometimes.


Posted by on February 17, 2012 in At Home, Travel, Writings


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4 responses to “Transient once again. . .or still

  1. crystal

    February 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I love seeing your heart – thank you for this post. 🙂 How very human and real your experience is, and how defined by your transient experiences . . . Love to all of you – you’re in our thoughts often!

  2. Keren Jacobson Marzinke

    February 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Reading this post made me suddenly think you might like reading my friend Ariana’s blog. She is living overseas and has a lot of posts on transience and making home home. her blog address is: This post reminded me of several she has written on this subject. And hey, if you end up visiting London for some strange reason, you should look her up! We lived together in the same boarding house in High School. Sometimes finding ‘encouraging community’ in a new place means finding those who have a similar story–even if they are not in your city. Love to you all and praying!

  3. Andrea Baldwin

    February 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    A LOT of what you describe is universal….even for those who are not transient. (Though your parents were also pretty transient over the years….)

    The feeling that you have no purpose in life anymore, but to change diapers and do more laundry and clean up nastiness and try to figure out what to feed all of the hungry people in your life……….and then change more diapers and do more laundry, etc. It makes you feel as though somehow your brain (about which, once-upon-a-time, people seemed so excited…) got sucked out of your head one night, and was replaced by something frightening that just kept saying, “You were made by God to bear children and love and nurture them and He will give you strength and it is beautiful….” and all you can think of is how much you LOVE your children…..but HATE the idea of changing another diaper or cooking another meal or doing more dishes or another load of laundry. And yet, there it is…staring you in the face…..screaming at you….and this voice, saying, if you are a “Good” wife, you will keep on keeping on, you will kill yourself trying to make a good dinner and clean up, and save a little energy for your husband…and try to brush your hair. What you’d really like is to be able to leave the house (like HE does) and go do something that other people pay money for and praise you for and print accolades about. But no, you are the blessed mother…..who is supposed to be patient and kind and nurturing and creative …… And then, he comes home and wants you to adore him and lavish your love upon him, and all you can think of is…”If one more person requires me to do one more thing for them, I’m going to SCREAM!!! I have given all I have of myself. There is nothing left…and…..WHEN IS SOMEONE GOING TO THINK ABOUT GIVING SOMETHING OF THEMSELVES TO ME????”

    OK, yes, this is what I remember. Perhaps you didn’t marry someone who is utterly immersed in and consumed by their very voracious and ambitious goals and aspirations. Some of you have much more modern….and balanced…..relationships. But I’m betting you can relate to some of what I say. Being a mom is the toughest, most challenging, exhausting, depressing, frustrating, seemingly ENDLESS jobs God ever created. The joys are there, but they are fleeting, and often far-outweighed and over-shadowed by the frustrations and the guilt you feel for all of the things you feel you coulda/woulda/shoulda done better. The cookies you should have baked…..the dress you should have had pressed, the costume you meant to make, the eloquent journal you wish you could have written for your children to read some day……….etc. It NEVER ends. Never. But, if you are as blessed as I have been (and I am SURE that you are), you will make mistakes, you will fall short, you will NOT have beautiful hair and make-up and a perfectly manicured lawn or nails……….and somehow, you will raise amazing, articulate, creative, hard-working kids….as long as you say NO to them enough….and allow them to try and fail…..and fall flat on their faces……and take responsibility for their actions. You will be amazing mothers of remarkable kids. Just keep telling yourselves, “If SHE can do it….I can do it!” Because it’s true. I sure didn’t have anything special…except guts and determination…..and a spirit that said, “I will NEVER, EVER, EVER give up!”

    You will not do everything the way you wish you could. You will have to apologize occasionally. You will be humbled in ways you can NOT imagine right now, as you look into those amazing eyes of your adoring little ones, or feel them hug you as if they could not go on without you. And they can’t. Remember——No one expects you to be perfect…..except you!

  4. Hindupur Avinash

    February 17, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Hope you will be back to your earlier self soon.. have a great time in Iceland! 🙂


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