Reflections on Life Back Home in the Suburbs of Grand Rapids

Posted by  Brooke Tower on Thursday, October 15, 2015

Since we returned home 80 days ago, life has felt busy and chaotic to me. We have experienced many changes in our focus and schedule over the past 2 months. Mostly, we are very thankful to be home--with the luxuries of full-sized house living, with multiple private bathrooms, a dishwasher, floors that don't shake with movement, space to spread out, a couch big enough to stretch out on, more privacy, and a basement to send our energetic, loud children to play in. It is wonderful to not have to worry about how full the gray tanks, or black tank, or propane tanks are, to figure out where to take the trash, or where the nearest grocery store is.

I feel like there has been a lot of catching up to do since we got home--catching up on missed dentist, doctor, eye doctor, orthodontist appointment opportunities. We have truly enjoyed getting to catch up with friends and family. Since we had been focused on preparing for, saving for, and then executing our 48 state project for over 3 years, it feels kind of foreign to be back in a house and figuring out what we want our home and lives to look like here and now. In some ways, we love this fresh slate, but all the possibilities also feel rather overwhelming to me. Decisions about what to do, who to see, what to sign up for, what to learn about, what to wear, what to volunteer for, what car(s) to buy, what job to look for, what to do about getting a dog, even what to put where on the walls has felt exhausting to me. If I had to summarize two main observations is that life back in the suburbs is more expensive and complex.

So, now we are working on juggling different schedules and adjusting to new rhythms. We are all thankful to have the kids back in their elementary classrooms with amazing teachers and schoolmates. It is great to see them playing with friends and enjoying new experiences. We encouraged (made) Luke take advantage of the opportunities to play a musical instrument, try out for honors choir, sign up for Robotics (which J. is coaching), play soccer, and be a part of youth group at our church (where I am volunteering). He is resistant to new ideas and after a year of few schedules, being so busy has been a big adjustment for him.

Lauren has been especially loving having so many playmates in the neighborhood. I like that playing with friends motivates her to get her schoolwork done and room cleaned (though she knows how to get around this too). She is enjoying sewing lessons and creative projects. Lauren's growing independence means she doesn't really want me around in public, specifically waiting for the bus to come in the morning, or volunteering at school. She still wants to talk, cuddle, and be read to, but often her top priority is playing outside with friends.

After primarily working from home for 6 years, J. is now self-employed, beginning with a 10 month contract that, at least for now, includes a commute time and traffic. And after working 2-3 days a week for the last 2 months doing health screenings, I am enjoying more time at home catching up on odds and ends while I also look for a job. I would love to get back into the perioperative area (pre-surgery/recovery room/OR), but we'll see how long it takes to find a job that fits my desires and skills well.

I think I feel like we have been on this amazing adventure of waterfalls and fast-flowing rivers, of calm lakes and ocean waves, and are now back in Grand Rapids, being churned in the rushing water by changes, by reconnecting in old and new ways to family, friends, church and this wonderful west Michigan community we find ourselves in. Sometimes it is more challenging to keep my head above water than I would prefer, but I am so thankful for the many experiences, memories, and perspectives that continue to refine and bless me.