Monday, September 19, 2011

behind and blessed

we clearly need help.  today clinched it.  it was just that kind of day -- a reminder of how unbelievably inept we are (i am).  from the moment the day started moving, i felt far behind. way behind.  while trying to get five kids out the door for school, i realized we were low on lunch fixings and completely out of milk.  

how can we possibly be out of milk?  

i run to the grocery store at least 17 times a week.  we should absolutely never be out of milk. years ago, my husband made a rule.a plan.a policy:  if ever we step foot in the grocery store we must pick up a gallon of milk. no matter what. no exceptions.  considering the amount of times my feet cross the threshold of our local market i should have a reserve of at least a dozen gallons in my garage fridge at all times.  but this morning, we were out of milk.  and waffles.  and the dog had eaten the bag of bagels the day prior.  that was the start of our day: no milk. no waffles. no bagels. and a potentially sick dog.

dropping my children at carpool, the 8 year old boy turned back to me, tears in his green eyes.  "please don't be late to pick me up today, mom."  he waivered, clutched the door handle, and then closed it quiet. i watched the sad slump of him join the stream of school children.  he threw one last look over his shoulder for emphasis causing a hard swallow deep in me.  i drove away in my pajamas and slippers and frizzy hair and thought, are you kidding me?  what have i done to cause this deep sense of insecurity in my boy so young? it's not like we ever left him at church after a christmas eve service...that was his older brother. we've hardly ever left this one.  by the time he came along we had older, more careful, children, helpful in their prompting to remember everyone.  we've hardly left or lost a child in recent years.  but i drove away low.  clutching my cold morning coffee as the youngest whined in the backseat for her lovey and juice.  we had left both on the counter at home in our hasty departure.  and she was left to stare out the window,  thirsty and lovey-less.

later that morning, the theme of "left behind" continued steady and strong. while sitting in a meeting, a text popped up on my phone:  "i left my lunch in dad's car."  this from the oldest girl.  almost 16 and in high school and my immediate thought, we'll that's just too bad sister...this one's your deal.  wow. i was somewhat surprised by the defensive thoughts which bubbled up to the surface of my sympathy.  i mean, i truly was sorry for her.  she faced a long day at school and a late practice and, remember, we had had very little breakfast available in our home that morning.  but there was nothing to be done.  i very rarely helicopter in and rescue my children. i am not much of a swooper. it not only goes against my grain, but it is not remotely possible with five of them.  my rescue helicopter is officially on overload these days. i texted her back, "so sorry honey." 

it was 1:30 and i made the preschool pick up on time.  i'd just like to note i was there with the sign in the car window and plenty of gas in my vehicle. (not always the case).  i had a smile for the teacher and the lovey and juice cup waiting for that thirsty preschooler.  all of a sudden,  i felt quite accomplished.  look how well i was doing.  the day seemed redeemed, i was back on my game.  an hour later we headed for the 3pm pick up.  remember the 8 year old's tears?  i was determined to be there not just on time, but early.  it took everything in me, but i made it.  he looked absolutely shocked to see his little sister and me standing curbside. gone were his mom's slippers and pjs and frizzy hair.  here was his mother, early and pretending easy efficiency. no biggie - i can do this.  be early, be on time, and occasionally wear heels and lipstick. how hard can it be?

the rest of the day didn't go quite so well. my facade fell apart when a neighbor, with a need, stopped by unexpectedly.  i ended up late getting middle girl from her volleyball practice at 5pm.  and strangely enough, rick was even later picking up oldest girl from her practice (that had nothing to do with me, by the way).   i won't go into the details...but there truly were good reasons and unavoidable situations.  it is just what happens in our home.  it is called life.  i am not looking for a way to excuse tardiness or justify the possible lack of planning, but is it not okay for our children to sometimes have to wait a little? i am thinking a little neglect is not particularly a bad thing for these well fed, well loved and well cared for children.  

we live in a culture which allows little girls to walk around wearing t-shirts advertising, it's all about me. we call it cute and yet wonder when our kids can't share or serve or wait for something.  what are we doing when we make our kids the absolute center?  don't get me wrong, i adore my children, but i also do not want them thinking anybody, including their mother, rotates around them.  this doesn't mean i don't take my motherhood seriously.  i consider it my highest calling.  i do.  but in our home, we are a team. we work together and help each other.  there are no superstars or MVPs.  (i think they all are pretty special). but everyone is expected to do his or her part. everyone is expected to help themselves and help each other. it is what we do.  and sometimes the team captain or coach or whatever you want to call me, needs help too.  she needs grace...needs a little extra wiggle room and somedays (like today), she needs a lot.

dinner was on the table by 7:30 that night.  children fed.  dishes done. homework completed.  three were tucked in and two continued late in their studying.  i headed for our porch and reflected on our left behind kind of day. somedays it seems my family of seven is all squished together on a hamster wheel, running and running and running.  i suppose we could get off.  move to the country.  take off our watches. turn in our phones. put our feet in a brook and our nose in a book.  homeschool and bake peach pies and grow something good. raise chickens and children. we could trade in the giant SUV for a tractor and pickup.  (don't tell my boys i wrote that).  i've thought about it.  i've dreamed about it. we've even talked about it.  is there a more idyllic or ideal way of life?  maybe.  i am pretty sure busy-ness and being late though can follow you to the country. i am positive it would follow me.  i am not sure that's the answer.  i am not sure there is an answer, except to embrace fully the crazies and give grace in the daily.  tomorrow is new, i think to myself. i'm not sure we'll do any better. but we'll try. we are busy and behind, but mostly, we are blessed.  and though i might forget to pick up the milk or a child here and there, i don't ever want to forget the blessing.


Simply LKJ said...

Well said Jody. Even being late means we have a blessing waiting for us.
Hope you are all doing well!

Aus said...

Brilliant again today Jody! Parenting IS the highest calling on this earth - and swooping to the rescue all the time only teaches that you don't have to be self sufficient because you'll be rescued!

Our families are much alike - busy most all the time - schedules dynamic. We're blessed that my job as a lab rat allows me a little more flexibility in hours than many (that and I have a wonderful command staff "just give me 40 in a week - I don't care what 40 - )and let me know if you work more than that") But like you guys - somehow we're trying to wring 26 or 27 hours out of every day - and it just isn't there.

But I'm moved to disagree with you about 'country living' - they're as busy and bothered about things and have the same scheduling issues we do. It's not the schedule - but it's the mindset. Ya see - in the country we know that we won't get it all done today - and that's just fine with us - there's always tomorrow for the rest.

And so - if it's not the place - then it's the philosophy - and we can have that philosophy anywhere.

Keep living life - let the kids know that they'll be loved even if the whole family's schedule means they'll have to wait just a few - and relax, because we won't get it all done today and tomorrow ... well there's always carry over!

hugs - love you guys - keep right on living!

aus and co.

Tiffany said...

I love this post Jody. I was just thinking the other day about how the organized, in control me has been replaced by the me who is a complete mess...forgetting to pick up kids, running out of food, etc. I wrestle with the guilt so much...but you are so right...having a lot of kids prevents us from becoming helicopter parents, it forces the kids to be a team, to work...and in the end...this can only be a good thing. Well said.