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Categorized | Voices and Views

A mini-van… and a chicken coop?

Eight years ago, if you told me I would be living out in Greenville with my husband and kids, that my mom would end up marrying our next door neighbor, that my husband would eventually take up hunting (of all things!) and that we would be homeschooling our kids, growing a vegetable garden and raising chickens, I would have not only told you that you were crazy, but I would have paid your cab fare from here to Bellevue.

Life takes us in unexpected directions!

I was raised in a Forest Hills suburb of Grand Rapids. I didn’t do 4-H. I didn’t even know what 4-H was until adulthood. We didn’t have deer in the backyard or coyotes. Our one neighborhood raccoon was a big, talked about, pesky celebrity amongst the neighbors. We had city recreation. We rode our bikes on paved streets. We swam in pools, not lakes. Sure, we would swim in lakes when we went camping, just as country kids occasionally visit pools. The strange thing about being raised in suburbia is you don’t regard yourself as a city kid or a country kid.

Having considered my childhood awesome, I envisioned recreating it for my own children someday. I wanted them to have the same experiences I did growing up. When my husband and I were house hunting, I fell in love with the homes I saw on cul-de-sacs, with basketball hoops in the driveway, and neighborhoods filled with kids that they’d ride the school bus with. My husband was not raised on a farm, but he grew up slightly more country than I did, and rode his bike on gravel dirt paths and swam in lakes and got lost in the woods. Looking for houses to buy, he fell in love with the big yards and homes that had character to them instead of “cookie-cutter” houses, as he called them. This was a source of argument for us. Yes, a big yard would be nice, I would say, but I don’t want to be out in the boondocks!

When we found an affordable house with a big yard out in Greenville, it was about 4 miles outside of city limits, a reasonable mixture of country and city. We compromised. The next several years I adjusted to country life without realizing it. Deer, coyotes, weasels, snapping turtles. We had whole families of raccoons at our bird feeders every night, one in the middle of the day that I would shoo off with a pan and broom.

Even our cat, who had always been an indoor pet and lived with me in apartments in downtown Grand Rapids, slowly became an indoor/outdoor mouse-eating, bird-catching country kitty.

In hindsight, I don’t know why it took me so long to realize I was becoming a country mom. But for some reason, in the last 2 years, with my husband deciding to take up hunting for the meat, my mom and husband starting a vegetable garden to grow everything from tomatoes to pumpkins, and now for my mom and kids to convince me (somehow) that we should consider raising chickens… it finally hit me. This is not at all where I envisioned my life would go.

For the record, I’m glad that God dreams things for our lives that we could never envision. I may never have dreamt I’d end up here, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ve come to realize that different doesn’t mean bad. Just because my kids won’t have a carbon copy of my childhood, doesn’t mean they won’t have an awesome childhood. Their social activity may come from various homeschool co-ops, clubs, community classes and camps, rather than the school bus, neighborhood and lunch line; but that doesn’t mean they can’t have valid, long-lasting friendships and a stable social environment. They may not have paved streets to ride their bikes on, but they’ll have trails to explore, gardens to water and chickens to chase. They’ll have grandma and papa next door to run back and forth from with frogs in one hand and buckets of rocks in the other.

Somehow, I am winding up as this strange combination of a soccer mom and farmer. I’ve got a mini-van and a chicken coop. I may never be on the PTA, but I’m an assistant organizer for our homeschool support group, which consists of 50-some families and growing. How did I get here? Only God knows, and He is winking at me.

“God’s surprises remind us of who’s in control. He knows us better than we do, and He wants us to give our relationships—the beginnings, middles, and endings—to Him.” -Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse

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