This particular Monday began with me waking up late, scrambling to quickly down a cup of coffee and shower before I ran off to CVS, armed with my money-saving plan for the week. I left the boys home in charge of getting themselves and the girls up and dressed, ready for lessons by the time I returned. I came hustling in with the next two weeks' worth of paper towel and toilet paper in tow, making another rushed trip out to the car for the other things I purchased, then I shifted quickly into my role as short-order breakfast cook. After everyone had eaten I moved onto lessons with the kids, which means that there are three very distinct activities going on at the table and everyone has questions that I'm trying to answer. It was during this time that I was attempting to finish the rest of my grocery list with a couple of sale ads and a calculator spread out in front of myself.
Although we were sitting at the table, things really felt chaotic. The breakfast dishes were piled high, the butter was still sitting out, the counters were cluttered with more things than I can list here, the bar held a few things from my morning trip to the store that had not yet been put away, and that two week supply of toilet paper and paper towel? Yeah, it was stacked on the sticky floor next to the table where we were sitting. And, it was during that time of sitting at the table with my kids around me, asking a thousand questions about their different lessons, that my mind was anywhere but in that moment and I was getting frustrated. I was trying to finish up my money-saving grocery plan that I intended to carry out that very afternoon after my trips to the bank and the library, but before the dance class that my girls had to attend in town. I was planning it all out, couldn't they see that? I mean, I wouldn't be home until late, sparing just enough time to brown some meat and toss it with a couple of jars of sauce and a pound of pasta while I finished unloading my grocery haul and before daddy came in from work. Besides, we had orthodontist appointments on Tuesday and dentist appointments on Wednesday, I can't be bothered with grocery shopping while attending to appointments on the other side of town! Why can't those boys just see that I'm busy and figure out what an antecedent is on their own? And, "Yes, Emma, you carry the digit in the ten's place." "Claire, remember how the silent e makes a vowel say its long sound?" "Yes, I'll try to find time to show you girls how to use the sewing machine." (You can insert a silent "ugh" sound and a mommy eye-roll here. I can't find my crafty desire anywhere under all this stuff of life. Who has time for things like that?!)
That was the moment that the boys noticed the busyness that is filling up our days and reminded me that October is nearly gone. I'm sure, more than anything, it was their way of noticing that although Mama was present, her mind was anywhere but there. I tried not to let their reminder affect me, or at least not let them see what effect it was actually having. I felt like a balloon quickly deflating.
I try so very hard to make sure that our lives are full, but still leaning heavily toward simple. As homeschoolers, I want them to feel connected socially, but still find their true comfort in home and family. Finding that balance can be a tricky thing. I usually realize that I'm out of balance when one of the kids notices and brings it to my attention. Then I sit back and wonder why the chaos swirling around me wasn't enough to make me snap out of it. Why wasn't the unwashed or unfolded laundry, the counters piled high with junk, the floors littered with stuff I was too busy to pick up, the spilled tea stains that stay on the tile for a week or more at a time enough to snap me back into the reality I strive for? Things tend to snowball, moving forward at an ever increasing rate, with one day seeping into the next until we lose large blocks of time. All the while, my to-do list is never even close to being completed, my frustration level is high, and down time feels like something I cannot even begin to afford.
Life has a way of catching up to us, doesn't it? There are so many things going on, pulling for our attention, taking us out of our present moment. We get caught up in making plans for a later date and we forget what is right in front of us. We can't seem to enjoy right now for trying so hard to peek into tomorrow...and the days after that. We find ourselves being called back into the now by our children during the last days of October and we wonder what happened to September, or August and July for that matter. Where did the time go? Can I even scrape up a tangible memory about the previous months without taking a ridiculous amount of time to think about it? Do we not find this same behavior affecting all the aspects of our lives...our jobs, our marriages, our relationship with God? Can I make sure to kiss my husband goodnight or ask him about his day? Can I see my job as something positive that I can be thankful for instead of a draining source of negativity? Can I spend a few moments with God everyday, just inviting Him into my thoughts, into my heart? Can I spare a few minutes to read with Claire, emphasizing the long vowel words? Can I sit and explain grammar to my boys without sounding all huffy-puffy because I have things to do...things to plan to do? Can I just take my girls to the sewing machine and teach them to sew a simple pillow and watch their chubby, little-girl fingers guide the fabric under the needle? Can I teach them to live in the now if I don't show them by example? I'm thinking probably not.
I'm thinking that this Mama needs to learn to slow it down a notch, step back and start living out the important parts of life. She needs to start showing her children what she knows is really important, what matters most in this uncertain world. All the planning and busyness never achieves any level of happiness, but rather subtracts from it, and inherently, I believe the kids know this. It's my job to make sure they don't forget.
I'm so thankful for smart, mindful kids that keep me grounded. I'm so thankful that their mere mention of excessive busyness makes my heart pause and re-center around them. Today, this Mama is going to be a great English teacher and she's pulling out that dusty old sewing machine. My girls and I, we've got pillows to make.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven