Monthly Archives: July 2013

Afoot and Underfoot

Call me crazy (maybe).  I’m starting our homeschool year this week.

I’m aware it is still technically summer, but if you can have Christmas in July, could there be a rule that says you can’t start school then?  (That’s rhetorical.  No.  There’s no rule.  Welcome to homeschooling.)

The baby is coming in several weeks.  The house is for sale, which means we could possibly have to pack and move in the months ahead.  The mother is realizing the impossible amount of one-on-one time that each child will require during the school session alone.  Nursing newborn.  Handicapped, curious toddler.  Energetic young kindergartener.  Kinesthetic, hands-on first grader.  Loquacious, social second grader.  I need to get a leg up on this year so it doesn’t overtake us before we even get to October.

There is a lot on my plate.  Mostly, I put it there consciously, heaping spoonful at a time.  I have heard of birth control, thanks for asking.  I’m aware of the public school system and daycare.  There are people who can help clean house and pack it up.  I’d like to think, however, that it is both my right and privilege to care for house and home and the children whom God has given me as a blessing.

But sometimes, I forget.

Just getting your attention, Mom
Just getting your attention, Mom

I was only mildly panicking as I collated lesson plan pages this week.  It seemed reassuring to see simple teaching assignments mapped out in black and white.  The stark lesson blocks boldly reassured, “You got this. “

But I’ve done this homeschool thing before.  I know.  The black and white code doesn’t leave an empty box for diaper changing or potty training.  It doesn’t factor in laundry mountains or post-childbirth hormonal valleys.  It really doesn’t factor in having a baby.  I don’t see the spaces that allow for co-op days, appointment days, field trip days, atypically cranky days, shopping days, catch up days, PMS days, visiting company days, I-can’t-find-the-floor-under-this-mess days, baking days, Daddy’s Day Off days, birthdays, or furnace-broke/car died/dishwasher exploded days.  I don’t know quite how, but we’ll find the space for daily life in between the three “R’s”, magnet experiments, Queen Elizabeth and the geography of China.  It’ll work out.  Somehow.

Then the phone rang.  I grabbed it from the two year old who was innocently trying to record a video of himself licking the touch screen, and answered breathlessly.  A realtor asked if I could show the house to prospective buyers the next morning.  “Sure, no problem.”  I answered, glancing through the kitchen where apple juice had just spilled across the counter.  It was dripping into the silverware drawer.  A wheelchair rammed into my ankles.  The two year old wanted my phone back.  A couple other kids squabbled over Transformer toys under the table I had strewn with papers.  I felt my pulse quicken a bit more.

“Mom, I’m bored.”  The seven year old was at my elbow.  “Can I help?”

“No.” I answered quickly.

“Then can we watch a movie?”  He wasn’t put off.

“No.” I didn’t want them stuck in front of the screen when they could find something else to do.  They had so many toys…

But the question sparked a reminder.  “Oh, but those movies from the library are due today!”

The sound of rain pummeling the windows grew stronger.  Maybe the library trip should wait a little longer…  The phone rang again.  The voice on the other end was growing more familiar.  “Could we also schedule a showing at lunchtime?” I affirmed them, trying to sound cheerful.  Behind me, the four year old drove a Transformer truck over my piles of papers, quickly re-collating the painstaking work into a disheveled heap.

An unintelligible groan escaped my pursed lips.  “Ok.  Get out of the dining room.  A movie would be ok.  Just go!”

He obeyed with impressive compliance.  A few moments later, the sound of the Curious George theme jingled amiably from the computer.  Boys jockeyed for couch positions for a moment before settling.  The seven year old lifted the two year old into the center seat, and their voices quieted.  I sighed.  Why did they always have to be within hearing distance of Mommy’s heartbeat?  A little space and independence would be healthy.  I felt so short on time.

Were there extra minutes out there in the universe that I could somehow transport into my little world?  Was there a vitamin I could take to help grow an extra set of arms?  Could I get a prescription for bifocals for the eyes in the back of my head?

Where did the hours go???

“When Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.”  – John 13:1

Talk about a deadline.  Literally.

He had created time.  But Jesus, “knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands” (John 13:3), chose to submit to time.

He could have rewound time.  Back to careless childhood… Back to Eden… Back to before there was time, and a sinful world needing saving…  But He didn’t.

He could have fastforwarded time.  He’d done it before, prolonging hours for Joshua and Hezekiah in years long past.  He could have skipped past the excruciating injustice and hours of pain.  But He didn’t.

He could simply have stopped time.  All things were in His hands; the balance of life, light, time and space.  He could just freeze it, forever and for never.  But He didn’t.

Jesus came to His final hours.  And He chose to use them to hang out.  He sat down to a hearty, leisurely meal.  He savored bites of warm roasted meat.  He took turns waiting for the grapes.  He inhaled the aroma of fresh bread, tearing off and sharing generous hunks purposefully.  He relaxed and drank wine.  He laughed along with the others as a couple brothers squabbled over a good place to sit.  He gently reprimanded Peter for overconfidence.  He stretched His feet behind Him and felt the mud on His heels crack.

So Jesus stood among His reclining friends and pulled off His good robe.  Grabbing a scratchy towel, he bent behind one of the men.  Balancing a bowl of water on His knees, Jesus picked up the rough man’s callused foot and washed off dried mud and tiredness.  Other fellas shifted uncomfortably, but there was no awkwardness from Jesus as He knelt near each of His friends, chatting about their journeys of the day.  He looked each man in the eyes and smiled as the men relaxed.  Finally He stood.  He laid aside the grimy towel and pulled His dry clothes back on.    “I have given you an example, Jesus looked at His friends as He sat down.  “You should do as I have done to you.”  (John 13:15).

His own feet were still dirty.

In His final hours, with everything in His hands, Jesus chose to fill His final minutes with dirty water and feet.  Soon, He would give His friends the ultimate gift of His own death.  But first, He gave them of His life.  He gave them His time.  Jesus gave them Himself.

I peeked into the boys’ room before I went to my own for the night.  I’d spent several hours thinking and writing this post after they went to bed, then more in the morning before they woke.  As I went to save the final draft, it erased instead.  Ack.  How timely to lose a blog post about time; funny, huh?  (That’s rhetorical too.  Don’t answer that.)

I spent the day with my kids.  Then I fed them, bathed them, cuddled with them on the sofa and read a book, and tucked them into their blankets.  Now I stood between bunk beds and cribs, repentant in the stillness.  I don’t know how this homeschool year will go, but then I’m not in charge of time.  Everything has not been given into my hands.  It’s all still in Jesus’.

I can’t give them more than I have.  But I can give them what they really want.  They want to spend time – with me.

How humbling.  How consuming.  How necessary.

You think that’s a good present for a Christmas in July celebration?  (Go ahead.  You can answer that question.  It’s ok now.)

Letter to My Unborn Son

Dear Child,

I haven’t met you.  I don’t know you (though your roundhouse kicks to my ribs hint at strength and stubbornness ahead).  But I love you already and can’t wait to meet you next month.

I want the best for you.  Unfortunately, I am completely inadequate to be your mother.  Even if I pour my life into parenting you, I will fall short.  Already I do.  (Sorry about those doughnuts.  They gave us both a sugar crash later.)  Just ask your brothers in a few years, when they’re teenagers and you learn how to talk, they’ll tell you.  I will fail you.

I will get mad when isn’t your fault.

I will be too busy when you really just need me to listen.

I will be too lenient when you’re testing rules that should be safe and solid.

I will be too harsh when discipline isn’t the best teacher.

I will say no when I should say yes.

I will be a bad mom sometimes.  I’m sorry in advance.  Is this how Mary felt as she considered being Jesus’ mommy?  We’ve been entrusted with the impossible job of parenting perfectly.  No pressure.  It’s harder than you might think.

For the record, sometimes you will think I’m being a bad mom when I’m actually trying to do what’s good for you.

I will say no when I shouldn’t say yes.  (More on that when you’re 2).

I will discipline you when you do wrong, belligerently disobey, or try to hurt someone.

I will set rules that must not be broken to protect your own safety and health.

I will teach you manners.

I will not give you candy before supper.

I will expect you to practice helping anyone who is smaller or weaker than you, and all girls, no matter how tough they are.

I will observe bedtime.

I will give you good food when you ask for junk, kick you outside to play when you want to watch too much t.v., and won’t move the car until you’re buckled.

Because even Mary had to set boundaries for Jesus when He was little.  Even Jesus couldn’t play in traffic.  Even Jesus had to take turns.  Even Jesus had to learn to read when he would rather have been in the sandbox.

So much to learn!  The joy of daddy's tool box.
So much to learn! The joy of daddy’s tool box.

Jesus didn’t come to earth because it was going to be easy.  He didn’t pick Mary for His mom because she was perfect, or beautiful, or rich.  He didn’t come to be comfortable.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to be happy.

He came to a hard world, a young, imperfect mother, and a very difficult, painful purpose.  It pleased God – His dad – to put Him here.  His Dad loved Him more than I even love you (because He could).  So because I love you, I must expect the same for you.  I want more for you than just happiness.

It’s a little late for you to back out of this.  In fact, I’m expecting you to jump in head first.  Literally.  But don’t worry, even Jesus laughed sometimes.  In fact, I’m pretty sure He had an infectious giggle.  Even when He grew up, kids loved being around Him, so He must have been a pretty fun guy.

He had lots of brothers, just like you.

He enjoyed food, just like you will. (He spent lots of time eating with friends).

He had lots of energy, just like you. (He worked hard and walked everywhere).

He had an awe of nature, knowing that His Dad had made it to be enjoyed and used by Him as well as you.

He had the power to fill and to break His mom’s heart, just like you.

And He knew His mom loved him.  Just like you.

There are mountains to climb out here.  There are books to read.  There is chocolate; there is steak.  There are pretty girls (we’ll discuss them later…)  There is hard work, sweat, and pain.  But there is laughter, deep joy, and times of rest.  There are big trucks.  There is darkness.  There is hope.  There are hugs and cuddles.  There is lonliness.  There are puppies.  There is dirt.  There is ice cream.  There is so much to discover.

I cannot promise you happiness.  But I will try to teach you joy.

I cannot promise you painlessness.   But I will be there to kiss your booboos and stick on band aids.

I cannot promise you comfort.  But I will try to buffer the hurts when I know they are coming.

I cannot promise you immediate gratification.  But I will try to help you accept the waiting.

I cannot promise you sunshine and warmth.  But I will dance with you in the rain.

I cannot promise you won’t get dirty.  But I will give you bubble baths.

I cannot promise you won’t get sick.  But I will soothe your pain.

I cannot promise you won’t be afraid.  But I will chase monsters with you in the dark and hold your hand when you feel small.

I cannot promise you won’t fail.  You will make mistakes; you will try your hardest and still lose.  Sometimes.  But I will help you get up and try again.  And again.  And again.

I cannot promise I won’t fail you.  In fact, I guarantee I will.  But I will teach you about Jesus’ Dad – the One who put you here in the first place – and I guarantee He will never fail you.  I can’t wait to introduce you to Him.

I’m looking forward to joining you on the grand adventure, baby.  See you soon!

Love, Mom

They're waiting for you...
They’re waiting for you…

P.S.  That first step of life is a doozy.  For both of us.  You can start practicing now being a good sleeper for mama, ok?  Thanks.