I was a little stuck today for a blog post, so did a call out on my Facebook Page and my lovely friend Steph suggested I talked about my identity. Who I am outside of home, my role as mum, home educator, wife and general facilitator of other people’s lives.
In some ways this is quite a scary topic to write about, as until very recently I didn’t know who I was any more. My life had become so stripped of anything other than those roles, that I had forgotten what I liked and what made up me, other than those roles.
I can’t say that I am even close to being recovered from that lost place, but I think I am on my way.
Where did I come from?
My parents emigrated from the UK to Australia in 1974 when I was two years old and my only sibling, a sister was 4 months old. I went to ten different schools in 3 Australian states and two countries (as we spent some time in England when I was about 8 I think). My parents were often involved in missionary work to indigenous people, or training on bible college campus’. I felt that meant I had the most wonderfully varied childhood. I got to meet so many interesting people, live in indigenous communities both in N.S.W and in W.A. and I got to see loads of Australia. I had a childhood of swimming in the sea and in rivers, riding horses, fishing, catching tadpoles, climbing trees, playing on the trampoline, riding bikes, going on picnics, sight seeing, water skiing, go-cart riding, bush walking, stories around campfires and watching life on farms. For a family who largely lived by faith (there was very little paid work in these fields), I felt that I grew up in the most extraordinary environments and had amazing opportunities. No doubt my childhood affected how I wanted to bring up my own children.
In 1991 I moved to Central West N.S.W to a town called Bathurst, to go to university to study Primary School Teaching. My family and some of my husband’s family still live there today. I decided in my 3rd year that I no longer wanted to be a teacher, but went on to finish my course and graduate anyway.
In my second year of university I met my husband through mutual friends and we became good friends. In my third year of university we fell pregnant and decided to get married. Our first son Josh was born February 1994. We added 4 more children to our family over the years, and in 2008 moved our family of 7 to England for an adventure. We thought we would stay a year or two, but instead 9 years tomorrow we are still here.
Who I am?
I am an introvert, who is more intuitive than observant. I will feel my way through most of life, keeping my options open and being relatively flexible (Prospecting). I would say I am sensitive to stress, and am very emotional (Turbulent).
What do I believe?
I have a deep faith in God, but don’t really like religion. I have been quite burnt by the church over the years, and struggle to find a local community of believers (all in one place) that in someway doesn’t want to control my life. Whether that be by having a ‘church vision’ that I need to live up too (which more often than not circumvents whatever my personal vision for myself and family maybe.) Or alternatively has particular doctrine, that if I don’t hold fast too, ostracizes me. I believe we are personally responsible and accountable for our faith and walk and how we live in the world (whether we are people of faith or not, I believe everyone has a personal responsibility to the wider communities and world in which we live).
I have however found many individuals that I connect with over the years.
I am not saying I am right or wrong in the position I take in regards to church and religion, but it is where I currently am. I am open to finding such a community, but I tread lightly and try to work on my past hurts.
And I like science 😉 I don’t believe faith and science need to be mutually exclusive.
What do I like to do?
I have always loved to read, although these days I mostly listen to audio books. I always keep a paper book on the go, as it is really handy to have one in your handbag. Generally though I listen to books as I go about my day.
I like historical fiction, and books that introduce me to rich characters that I can immerse myself in. I also like reading books that deal with psychology and sociology, and often wonder if I should retrain in this field. I love my WI book club and have found that this has introduced me to new genre’s I haven’t tried before. I have enjoyed some of the spy and intrigue books we have read as well as some of the psychological thrillers. I doubt I would have ventured into these genre’s without the lovely ladies I meet with once a month.
I am currently enjoying The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren, and think that is probably one of (if not THE) most helpful books I have ever read.
I enjoy my WI group and the ladies who I am getting to know there. Sometimes my anxiety gets the better of me, and I find it hard to go to such a big group, but that is in no way a reflection on the group, just my daily struggles.
I love to take walks with my dog Bella, but have gotten out of the habit of late. It is something I need to reintroduce in my schedule. I find walking near water especially soothing, but being out in nature generally is good for my soul. I can do this alone or with others, I don’t really mind (as long as they are happy for me go into my shell and not chat all the time).
I like to play video games. Minecraft has been a constant for the last 5-6 years. I have met so many interesting people online, and have met people who I would call my friends. I like the Sims 4 and other little games here and there that I play.
Writing and vlogging is my main creative outlet at the moment. Vlogging is a great way to save memories for Joey, as well as feel heard about things I love and am passionate about. Writing is something I have always loved to do. So blogging helps me put time aside to do that. Anthony is always saying I should write a book, but at the moment, I have no desire to do so. Nor do I have any inclination as to what I would write about. So for now I just write my random thoughts here. Blogging has brought me into contact with all kinds of people, and I have made friendships that span at least 10 years through the online communities I have belonged too.
I like board/card games with family and friends as well, but feel like I haven’t done very much of that lately.
I enjoy trying various arts and crafts (often seasonal or event-driven), but don’t really have anything I ‘always’ do. I seem to get bored with repetitive things quite easily. I am rubbish at knitting and crocheting but can sew if I put my mind too it. I love going to art galleries and should really do more of it. I need a buddy really, as my hubby hates it! Or get more comfortable doing it alone.
I don’t play an instrument all the time, but can play the guitar a little and have dabbled with the ukulele. I can hold a tune, and sometimes pick music up by ear, so I probably should learn something more thoroughly.
Gin collecting is my new hobby! I discovered gin in the summer of 2014 and it has become a passion of mine. I talk about it and think about it far more than I actually drink it though, which often gives the wrong impression to quick to judge people. I love the history, the stories, the use of botanical, and the way it can be paired with garnishes (in the same way a wine might be paired with a meal). I am quite a mindful person though, and do set boundaries around how much I consume. Not because I have a problem, but because I believe in personal responsibility.
I currently serve on the Board of Governors at my 16 year old’s school. I originally joined as the school was taking on quite a few home educated kids on. Although this seems to have slowed of late. I don’t think I am particularly great at this role, and feel I am on a very steep learning curve. I am not doing it as a career move nor to have on my CV, I was genuinely interested in the life of the school.
Home is my castle. I am very much a home body, but do love little trips out and about, especially if it is to see something historical or artsy, or near nature and water.
What do I value?
I value my husband. He works blooming hard, both for his own sense of worth, and to provide for our family. This has been a double edge sword. My being home has enabled him to do that and his working has enabled me to home educate the children. That doesn’t mean life has always been easy and that marriage isn’t hard work, but we are both committed to the journey, even when it sucks.
I value my family. My children have always been an integral part of my life. When growing up, I always wanted to be a mum. So while this post is about who I am outside of all of that, that value does also shape who I am to a large degree. I have been fortunate enough to be able to do that. I have NEVER taken that for granted. That doesn’t mean to say that sometimes I don’t get frustrated with the amount my husband has to work though.
I value relationships that are mutual. I am too emotionally drained these days, to give and give and give. So the relationships I value are where we both give and get. My husband tells me that for someone who loves the concept of community, I suck at it! And he is right I do.
I think this describes me well;
The challenge is the many dualities that this type harbours when it comes to being sociable – Mediators crave the depth of mutual human understanding, but tire easily in social situations; they are excellent at reading into others’ feelings and motivations, but are often unwilling to provide others the same insight into themselves – it’s as though Mediators like the idea of human contact, but not the reality of social contact….
But, if Mediators’ shields are properly navigated and they decide to open up and trust another person, a strong, stable friendship will ensue, marked by passionate support and idealism, subtle poetic wit, and a level of emotional insight that is hard to match. Mediators’ friends will be rewarded with calm, sensitivity and depth, and an ever-present desire to help, learn, and grow. But even the most confident and assertive Mediators will only be able to keep up this relaxed and present exterior for so long.
I value our home life. Both our physical home and our relational home. It is such an important part of who I am and the world I want to create for myself and my family. I am not on any level motivated by money and have had several little businesses, where I could barely bring myself to sell to people. However this is something I need to get better at, as I don’t think it is fair to Anthony to be the sole breadwinner forever.
I think it is really hard to separate who I am in terms of my identity from my family, home education and my role, because my life and values are so entwined in all of that right now. Not because I don’t have other interests, but because so much of what interests me is at home. I do think as Joey starts to think about what he might do next, that will change for me as well.
Some women choose careers, some choose careers and families, some choose having a job to bring in a little extra cash or have some time to themselves. I don’t see any of this as right or wrong, I just see people living by what they value at any one point in time. I do think it must be really difficult when people get forced to make choices that are not what they would want from life, that must be a very hard place to be indeed.
For me I chose home educating my kids and I have been incredibly fortunate to be able to do that. We’ve had to make all kinds of sacrifices over the years to make that happen, but we did so, because it was what I valued. I don’t compartmentalize (or juggle) very well, so the things that I do outside the home, don’t clash with what I want to achieve within my home. Or if they do, it is never for very long.
In the future I see further study on the cards, I see being there for my family and friends and perhaps developing some more philanthropic pursuits with Anthony. I often think about how I can turn my love of gin into a little job too. I would like to try my hand at golf and sailing and take some art classes at some point as well. I would like to learn to sew my own clothes. All little things I would like to have a go at.
So how about you? How do you define yourself? Do you find it easy/hard to define yourself outside of your home and family?