When life feels like a holding pattern

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Hello! This week I’m sharing yet another one from the dusty archives, as we are still adjusting to life as a family of five. And by now, I’m really, really tired. This post first ran back in 2012. I hope it blesses you today!  > > >

Years ago my family and I were flying into Cairo, Egypt. We were approaching the destination, descending. Smiling flight attendants asked us to store our trays in the upright and locked position. We were getting close. I looked out the tiny window and was thrilled to see the Nile, sprawling and sparkling in all its ancient splendor. The plane banked hard and I admired the landscape, how it morphed from lush green near the river to brown desert so quickly. Then, instead of the runway the Nile came back into view again. And again. And again. Finally the captain announced that we could not land yet but were flying in a holding pattern. Six times we made that enormous circle around Cairo. Finally, the pattern broke and we were able to land and move on with our trip. (Have you ever been in a holding pattern? Click through to read about mine…)

Sometimes life can seem like it has you in a holding pattern. You’ll expect, anticipate a change only to see the same ‘ol scenery come around again. Been there, seen that. Tired of bracing for the landing, you’ll put some aspects of life on hold, just until circumstances shift.

I’ve caught myself putting some parts of life on hold during these years in the Shoebox, if I’m honest with myself. Oh, I’ve dug deep into learning how to mother well and enjoying the time with my little family. I don’t feel like I’ve been severely limited. But I have found myself thinking, “When we move to a larger place I’ll entertain friends more; there’s no room for it here.” Or, “If we lived in a different house I’d recycle. We just don’t have the space to organize it right now.”

While some circumstances truly do call for a major hold, what a shame it would be if I waited to cultivate relationships that could bring joy. Or what a shame it is if I keep putting off being responsible with the way I dispose of waste. The reality is that change might not come around for a while. I don’t want to look back and have regrets about these years.

Living in a small space doesn’t have to limit living. I’m learning that activities might just look a little different.

Living in a small space doesn’t have to limit LIVING.

It means entertaining is better served as one-on-one friend time instead of large family dinner parties. (We actually have tried to have people over for a meal here. No matter how well you know someone, it’s a little awkward when you have to practically sit on their lap to squeeze out of the eating nook.)

It means we choose the projects we do carefully, and take note of when we’ll have time and where we’ll store the supplies in the meantime. (As I write, the pieces to a toddler bed lie across the room, waiting to be refinished.)

It means that I bake goodies less often (which is helpful with the whole losing baby weight thing) because I have the responsibility of hand washing every single dish and utensil that we dirty.

It means that we just need to get creative about how we organize our recycling bins and how often to take recycling to the local center.

I don’t want to look at our time in the Shoebox as a holding pattern, because I don’t know how long it will last. This is real life, and while sometimes it feels like we are being held back—flying in circles—we are not.

This year I want to live as fully and responsibly as I would anywhere else. I’ll start with inviting a friend over. Anyone want to join me for tea?

Do you feel like you’re in a holding pattern? Ever felt this way? Comment below and share your thoughts with us!

(Photo by Kuster & Wildhaber Photography)

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  • Casey
    August 14, 2012

    I’ll always join you for tea! Followed by a walk to the park w/the kiddos, perhaps!

  • Val
    August 14, 2012

    I’ll join you for tea!! Maybe at a park or after pawnig off the crazies !

  • Jane Sasser
    August 14, 2012

    Hold on– I’ll be right over! 🙂 Wish I could.

  • Evelyn
    August 14, 2012

    YES to all three of you! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  • KWeight
    August 16, 2012

    Gosh, this is a great post. It’s easy to fall into constantly having your mind on the future. For us, it’s been “after med school” then “after residency” and now “after fellowship.” But you’re right – life is happening right now. How sad we would be to look back on our twenties and think we didn’t savor the moment. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • Evelyn
      August 16, 2012

      That’s exactly it– learning to live in the “now.” One of my favorite quotes by Jim Elliot is, “Where ever you are, be all there.”

  • Sherry
    August 22, 2012

    I too would love to be able to come for tea. miss you! 🙂

  • Kim
    March 24, 2014

    Thank you for reposting this piece, Evelyn. It touches me right where I am. I hope you can catch up on a little shut-eye today.

  • Stephanie
    March 24, 2014

    Yes, thanks for reposting this! It really spoke to me today, particularly, “I don’t want to look back and have regrets about these years. Living in a small space doesn’t have to limit living.” I’ve definitely been struggling with this myself as we became a family of four in a place that was supposed to be a “starter home.” While I often wish we had made different decisions and lament being stuck in our underwater condo, I also don’t want to let my kids’ childhood pass me by while I’m pining away for a bigger house.

    So thanks, and hope you are enjoying your new little one!

    • Evelyn
      March 24, 2014

      Stephanie, I so understand where you’re coming from! It’s amazing how fast life goes and how easily seasons switch from a temporary just-for-now to a been-a-long-time-seemingly-forever-normal. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! And yeah… our new little one is a dream! 🙂

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