Making Home In Mississippi

Anytime someone asks me for an example of how I submit to my husband (a question which I’m asked more often, perhaps, than you’d assume) I cite our move to Mississippi.

Not because my husband came home and “put his foot down.” Or because we were at a deadlock and I ceded the final choice to him because I have to.

We both prayerfully faced the decision and discussed it exhaustively. Even though I loved the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis, I was entering my third trimester with our son and saw how important it was for my family to have access to the community that Mississippi could provide. I didn’t want to live here. At all. But it was truly what was best for our family. 

For Phillip, leaving Minneapolis meant coming home. For me, it meant going to yet another place that is not my (Houston) home. I moved to this strange land, trusting that what was obviously best for my husband and son would, by proxy, be best for me.

As we predicted, it’s been wonderful for them. Phillip has a job that he loves and Wynn has been bathed in a community that adores him.

And me? Well, don’t mind me. I’m still pouting in a corner.

Alien Wanderings/Wonderings

I’ve written before about how the unique culture of Mississippi often makes me feel like an out-of-town guest:

I’m a Houstonian who thought she was southern until she married a legitimate southerner and went back to the Mississippi mothership. I entered a different culture, where it seemed like there was a codebook to making new friends, but they forgot to give me the manual.

But I can’t blame Mississippi for my feeling of displacement. If I’d come here more self-assured, less in-the-middle-of-a-quarter-life-identity-crisis, it might be less jarring. I moved to Mississippi, while wounds in my marriage were being healed, while coping with postpartum depression, while coming to terms with the fact that the perfect life I’d been promised for doing things the perfect way was nonexistent.

I also came here as a new mom.

Not A Mommy Blog

Now, you guys know this is not a mommy blog. I get a little flack for that tagline because people think I’m making fun of mommy bloggers. But the reason why I choose not to focus explicitly on mom stuff is that there are other bloggers who do it better, I wanted to write to a broader audience of women, and, also I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!

And I don’t want advice. Not because I’ve got it all under control, but because I have a husband, a mom, a MIL, and a host of back-home Titus 2 mentors and friends who give me plenty to chew on. I’m up to my earlobes in mommy advice. I have a long list of the “right” things to do.

But nobody tells you about being a mother who struggles with anxiety. About how you can become the helicopter mom you despise, scared to death of playdates because your kid doesn’t know how to walk down the stairs or can’t hop down from the table on his own.

Nobody tells you about how it’s impossible to have a conversation with other moms when you’re watching him out of the corner of your eyes the entire time.

Nobody tells you that sometimes (way less in Mississippi than in Minneapolis, notably) your child is the only little black boy in the room. Then you might worry that people will judge him more harshly for childlike behavior; to hover around him fearful that he’ll hit or bite another child and it won’t be attributed to the fact that he’s going on two.

I don’t want to struggle with those things. I don’t want my son to carry my burdens. But it’s hard.

Not Moving Away

Whenever I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, I make a snide comment about how I’m the one doing all of the sacrificing in this relationship (patently false, by the way). Sometimes, Phillip and Wynn’s flourishing is a direct affront to me.

My husband has a job that will allow him to live anywhere that his seminary has a campus. He’ll say, “Where do you want to go, babe? D.C.? Atlanta? Houston?”

And that’s when I realize that the problem isn’t the Mississippi move at all because each and every one of those places  — even the one that used to feel like home — will carry a host of difficulties, some the very same ones I’m wrestling with in Mississippi.

The problem isn’t in my surroundings. It’s in me.

Ready To Work

And I don’t mean that I’m a problem (although, you know, sometimes… I am), but that the growing pains of becoming the woman, wife, mother, and friend who God has called me to be aren’t going to be automatic regardless of where I go.

It’s going to be work. Work to invite more people into my messy life. Work to keep getting my messy life in order. Work to learn, over and over again, that my son is not my own.

This move involved me submitting to my husband’s leadership. But it’s also a choice that I made, and its involved sacrifices for all of us. As we continue to forge our family’s identity  — as both of us continue to make this the Holmes home  — I’m grateful for every lesson that comes my way. Miraculously, Mississippi’s history, Mississippi’s people, and Mississipi’s culture are growing on me. The other day, someone said something negative about this state, and I jumped to its defense because “it’s my home.” (Crazy, I know).

Who knows? Maybe in five, ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now, I’ll be helping another Mississippi newbie settle in.

Become Known & Loved Through Christ’s Finished Work

Read my 5-day devotional and discover how an identity rooted in Jesus can defeat your shame and fear of failing to live up to extra-biblical expectations.