you know the one: the lady who is always too busy to talk. the gal who is in a rush and running out the door. the neighbor who is known only by the tail lights of her departing SUV. the friend always on her way some where ... to some place ... to some thing ... with some one.
i don't want to be known as the woman who breezes in and breezes out all the time.
but that's what i feel like lately -- a lot.
a woman with her hair on fire. that's me.
last week i attended a coffee in a neighbor's home where i am pretty sure, in under ten minutes, i let every other woman present know i had somewhere else i had to be. we were supposed to run from the meet and greet coffee to a meet and greet kindergarten class play date for bella.
both were scheduled from 10-12 am. that's do-able, right?
in my world, i seem to think it is.
but i'm struggling in my world lately -- a lot.
i don't want to be the mom who can't seem to string together three cohesive sentences because she has a child interrupting or another engagement pending or some ridiculous fire in need of extinguishing.
i certainly don't want to be guilty of half-listening because my mind is jumping ahead to the thing i have to do next. ouch! i type that sentence knowing full-well it happens.
there i was last friday morning, meeting with these delightful new ladies and what i wanted most was to go find a corner, sit down and talk more, hear their stories, tell them mine. i wanted to connect! but instead i was stuffing a muffin into my mouth, gulping coffee and wrangling in bella from the pool (yes, the pool). all the while i was nodding my head and trying my best to bond a little with these nice, new neighbors.
because a woman can do some bang up bonding when she's in the midst of stuffing, gulping and wrangling, right?
as we were leaving (early), my sweet friend, colleen, who hosted the coffee, walked me to the door. i was sweating profusely trying to get bella out of her swimsuit, back into her shoes and out the door -- all the while balancing her plate of goodies, a wet towel and my bag. as we headed down the front walk, colleen called after me, "i'm so glad you were able to fit this into your busy morning!"
she didn't say it sarcastically. colleen, one of the most genuinely kind ladies i know, doesn't have a sarcastic bone in her body. but i walked to my car thinking ... "fit this in ... fit. this. in ..." yuck! i don't want to be the lady who fits people in. i don't want to be THAT woman.
except that sometimes, i am.
the fact is though, as much as that idea leaves an unpleasant taste, i'm sitting here a few days later not entirely sure what to do about it.
should i say no?
i promise you -- we say no. we decline to the point of being rude. sometimes that's the answer, but not always.
i have a hunch that it has something to do with five kids. it has something to do especially with having five kids all still at home -- all with school and activities and schedules. we've really enjoyed this summer, but i have to tell you, we've never been stretched in so many different directions. recently, i described our family to a friend as seven ships passing in the night. i am not sure that's a very flattering or healthy description, but it is accurate. and good golly, someone remind me, isn't this summer?
i know this season of life is the busy run just before the imminent slow empty of our nest ... but most days it leaves me feeling a little scattered ... a bit scarce ... a tad frantic, in fact. i physically long for the slow and simple. i have been known to crawl under the covers of my bed at 4:00 in the afternoon and shout, "let's pretend mommy's not here for a while!" that works for about five minutes. instead i have high schoolers gulping smoothies at 7:30 am on their way out the door to varsity practices ... middle schoolers racing off on bikes to meet up with friends ... and even a kindergartner last friday morning with two places to be.
i am THAT WOMAN driving down the street in the middle of a summer afternoon who realizes that one of her children was supposed to be at a birthday party two hours earlier. yep ...
i believe this is the time when women like me crack up and move out to the country ...
or begin homeschooling everyone ... (not that that sounds like a solution)!
or start exercising for hours every day...
just between you and me, i would probably be more prone to over-eat or over-shop before i would ever (like, in-a-million-years-ever) over-exercise (or homeschool). you understand, right? ...
i am fully aware this has something to do with control.
or should i write, lack of control.
i can't control the number of things we have to do or the places we have to be. and it's kind of driving me crazy. i used to be able to do that when they were little. pick and choose. i can remember not telling my little people about a play date or a birthday party or a park opportunity, simply because i knew it would be too much for our family (for me) to say yes. simply because i could. because i held the cards. i called the shots. i was the one in control of the master family schedule.
these days ... well, it just doesn't work quite that same way.
i'm not a flimsy parent. i have no problem saying "no" to my kids. they would probably even tell you i say it a lot. we do have some pretty good boundaries in place. but still ...
the mcnatts are living life at full throttle.
and that's not really a bad thing. we should live life with gusto ... live life with great zest! hooray for life! i get that. i want that. Lord, help us all the day this woman feels slightly bored. but i believe in all this craziness, there's got to be some line of balance. i want my kids to have enough to do, just not too much. i want the same for my husband and the same for me.
enough to do, but not too much to do. i'll be honest that line feels rather thin lately. one mis-step and we find ourselves fallen into either idleness or insanity.
oh dear Jesus, i want that elusive, imponderable, catch-the-butterfly-kind-of balance!
the proverbs 31 girl seems to be a woman always held in high esteem. so let's talk about her for a minute.
would she understand my dilemma? did she have balance? did she feel the same stress when walking the line between "eating the bread of idleness" and "planting her vineyard?"
i really want to know!
in proverbs it says: "her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her..."
so, i'm thinking this woman without a name who dresses her family all in scarlet and still finds time to laugh, plant vineyards, and shop in faraway places has figured out how to be busy enough, but not too busy.
so, what's her secret?
i just spent a little time in this passage today and i pulled out all the verbs which describe her. (fascinating former english teacher stuff -- i know).
SHE: seeks, works, brings, rises, provides,
considers, plants, dresses, makes, perceives,
puts, opens, reaches, clothes, sells, delivers,
laughs, teaches, surpasses, looks.
okay, seriously, is it just me or is anyone else completely exhausted reading that list???
she does all of that? really? without a high efficiency washing machine or a microwave or even a mini-van?
|vineyard in santa barbara -- didn't plant it, |
but did have a lovely glass of wine!
... and so very thankful she is not my immediate neighbor.
she's making her own clothes and the clothes of her kiddos and i can barely make it to the gap for a sale. what's going on here people? how is she doing it?
but, you know what? i love her. really, i do. i have connected with this passage since my teenage years, knowing that she was a fabulous role model. but i if i was being honest here, (and i do try to be honest most of the time), i also want to sit down and pick her brain a bit. i'd like y'all to know right now, that come heaven-time, i will be blowing right by peter and gabriel and on the hunt for the proverbs 31 woman. i have a few questions for this proverbially wonder woman. like: how did she do all of that stuff ... all of those VERBS ... and still find time to work the ny times crossword puzzle on saturday mornings with her husband or dangle her feet in the lake with her little ones or enjoy a leisurely walk in the park without a list of stuff rattling around in her head. exhausted women want to know!
here's my big question: how did she do all of that AND still manage to be available to those around her?
this passage doesn't mention friends or neighbors. did she have them? did they know her by the tail lights of her cart or by the backside of her donkey? did they watch her spinning her scarlet clothes or on her way out to her vineyard and say to themselves, "well, there goes, that always-busy-and-productive-proverbs-31-mama --- who does she think she is anyway?"
this chapter in proverbs doesn't say much about her relationships outside her family, but somehow, i think she found time to visit with other women and encourage them along the way. "she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." i don't think she spent a lot of time on facebook or hanging out in the cul-de-sac gossiping. but i do think she had wise words and kind gestures readily available for those in her circle.
i am pretty sure she delivered a casserole or two in her time.
i'm kind of poking fun at her today. but you know, the truth is, i want to be a woman whose children (and husband) rise up and call her blessed. i want to be a woman known for her wisdom and kindness. and i want to be a woman who strikes the right balance for her family ... and even for her friends.
i do want to be THAT woman, i absolutely want to be THE woman God designed me to be.
sometimes it's hard to figure out who she is, what she looks like, and how in the world she's ever going to get it all done!
but God knows. He designed each one of us in an unique and purposeful way. and on those days when i can't seem to control the pace or the plan, i need to remember:
God does have a plan and only He can put pEace in the pace.
"for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ jeremiah 29:11
"LORD, you establish peace for us;
all that we have accomplished you have done for us." ~ Isaiah 26:12
all that we have accomplished you have done for us." ~ Isaiah 26:12