1. an act of reentering
2. the return from outer space into the earth’s atmosphere of an earth-orbiting satellite, spacecraft, rocket or the like.
Reentry is hard. It hurts. It burns. Things feel weird.
Coming back from nearly a month of intensives is similar to reentry.
My family, my world, continued on without me while I was away in what might as well have been outer space. Routines were modified to make up for my absence.
Meanwhile, while away I formed my own routines that worked seamlessly without worrying about other planetary bodies colliding into me.
So, when suddenly these three cosmic bodies reunite (or collide, depending on how hard reentry is), those routines have to shift. In our family, shifting routines is difficult. We thrive on routines to keep the chaos at bay. Both internal and external. Routines keep everyone calm, make life a lot easier, and works as the oil in our mostly well-oiled machine.
Thankfully, I’d been warned that coming back after J-term (our longest time away through the school year) is difficult for these reasons. I love my colleagues at school because of this support and sharing of information. It’s so much more than just giving details about how a class works or what the reading looks like. It’s this day to day life advice that helps so much more than how hard a particular book might be to read.
I flew back home on Saturday, January 31st. I stared out the window of the plane, watching the curve of the earth and the various houses go by underneath me. When the plane landed, I swallowed back tears. Tears of joy as I was about to be reunited with my family. A few tears of worry as I hoped it would all go well. I sat near the front of the plane (5th row!) so I could get exit as quickly as possible. I came through the security area and right into my husband’s arms.
That night was awesome. We grabbed my luggage and then went back to the food court to quickly get some dinner. I had an excited teenager telling me about all the things while we ate. We finally left the airport and headed straight to a friend’s house for a party. I was exhausted, but I think this helped ease the reentry.
We finally arrived home around 1am and I collapsed into bed. I warned the guys that I would be sleeping until I woke up – no alarm, no waking me up for anything other than the house being on fire (and even then, if someone could just pick me up and carry me, awesome). I ended up sleeping until 2pm.
And then I felt it. The shift. The weirdness of being home. I felt out of place. Like a puzzle piece shoved in where I didn’t exactly fit. It wasn’t anything that the guys did or didn’t do. It was internal. I felt it. Thankfully, having been forewarned, I was prepared for it.
Why the shift? Not just because of other routines happening. It was because I’d been through three and a half weeks of hard formation. Having my theology shaped and formed, finding my voice (there will be a post about that later), and feeling like I was truly on the path to becoming a minister. That all happened to me, and until I shared that with my husband, he had no idea. So to him, and to my son, I was still the same wife and mother who left at the beginning of the month. But I felt bigger, differently shaped, edges knocked off a bit and new ones formed.
So where do I fit?
I fit in the same place I always have. This is my home, this is my family. The reentry burns a few more edges off, and then I slowly slide into my space here. It can’t be forced, that will hurt not only me but also my family. I had to ease them into it. Long talks with my husband about what I went through, what I felt, and what the changes were. Having patience with a teenager who got to spend nearly a month having non-stop “guys time” with his father and is now being bombarded again by the mom who reminds about chores and homework.
This will happen again, with more intensity as we move through seminary. For it’s not just me in seminary. My whole family is in seminary with me. And as long as I’m mindful about that, we will survive each reentry I encounter.