Dear Very Near Future Osheta,
A week from today, you’ll be dropping your babies off at school. Yes! Hallelujer! Thank ya, Jesus! Like every other first day of school, you’ll greet the kids in the morning, freshly showered, coffee-ed up, singing “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” and inside you’ll do a happy, happy Jesus dance because in T-minus sixty minutes the house will be quiet. Beautifully quiet. Stunningly quiet. Quiet and still and the day will stretch before you with possibility.
It’s this possibility I want to talk to you about. You see, right now, I am exhausted. I’m over being a mom. I’m done with planning fun and being entertaining. I’m tired of endlessly making snacks. Pirate Summer’s been good and all…but this ship needs to sail or sink because if I have to say, “arrrgh”, after another sentence— I will break something and it’ll probably that inflatable parrot the kids have been fighting over all month.
Lord, give us mercy.
Wait…we sound likes Gollum….this is the reality of writing to your future self…creepy pronoun use. Anyway…do you see what the summer has done to us? Scatterbrained we are! Completely scatterbrained.
Which is why I’m concerned about the temptation too much time and opportunity poses us once the kiddos go back to school. As you know, we are Type- A to the “T”. We’re constantly thinking of the next project or commitment. Full of energy and overwhelmed with vision—we are a woman who gets stuff done. Quickly. Efficiently. Completely. We love the satisfaction of a job well done, praises from… just about anyone for our work ethic, and the validation that our contribution matters. Combine all that with the new life of Boston in the fall and we’re set up for failure before we kiss that last baby goodbye.
Boston in the fall is a flurry of possibilities that you, my dear, are incapable of handling without a little intervention.
So here I am. Worn-down and busted. Overwhelmed with the noise of life and ready to run away I’m here to intervene in our very best Gollum voice:
We needs a break! We wants some boundaries. We hates being over-whelmed! We hates it! We hates it! We hates it forever!
If I don’t tell you this now while I’m ready to give Summer a long kiss goodnight, I know you’ll easily forget the reality of life without margin. When the weather drops and your hands are cupping a mug of creamy pumpkin spice perfection—you’re gonna feel like superwoman. But, you’re not. Remember how you feel right now. Remember that:
We gets tired. We gets cranky. We gets frustrated.
And we come unglued.
Yes, summer was awesome, but let’s breathe in fall a bit before you suffocate us with schedules and commitments.
Take a minute and remember the summer we just had. For three months we were a kick-ass mom. That’s not vanity. It’s truth. We were present for our babies the whole summer. We read, played, swam, planned, danced, baked, crafted, cuddled, celebrated, and ate. Ferociously.
We owned this summer. Never forget that. Summer of 2013…we rocked your world, baby!
Remember this piece of awesomeness:
Right?!?!? Midnight movie showing rite of passage for the tween? Check.
And remember these VBSes at CCFC, Hope Fellowship, and Covenant Congregational:
We taught our babies to be Kingdom people by introducing them to three distinct expression of the Body of Christ and gave them several meaningful opportunities to meet Jesus. That’s what’s up!
And Pirate Summer…
Not to mention the geocaching and Family Camping!
Do you see? We were one busy lady.
But, I know part of our nature is to be busy. Martha isn’t our “ride or die”, girl for no reason. We get her angst when Mary chose disciple-ship over doing (and to be honest, we roll our eyes at Jesus when he talks about the better portion). But, like always, our Rabbi is right. His words are true and they hit too close to home. There is something better! I’m convinced if we jump right in to busy-ness and committments straight away—we’re gonna miss it.
We have so much energy and vision and excitement about so many things, but remember what our Puerto Rican godmother used to tell us, “ She-key, your eyes are bigger than your stomach!”
Gluttons for commitment we are and as a buffet of opportunities lays succulent and inviting before us this fall, I have one question for you…are we going to choose to stroke our pride and get life from our busy or are we going to scale back in order to receive the better portion?
I know, I know, sitting in your gloriously quiet house, everything seems like the better portion. Why wouldn’t I create a Pinterest board of Autumnal beauty? Why not join that book club? What’s the harm in making three-dozen book character themed cupcakes for the fall fundraising bake sale?
Hear our precious Jesus who we love to roll our eyes at:
Osheta, dear Osheta you are fussing far too much, only one thing is essential—it’s the main course.
That main course is our annoyingly wise Lord and you’ve got to create space every day for him. Obviously, portion control is what we need, baby! To help you make space for the Main Course, I’ve come up with five Jesus-centered portion control tips for back-to-school. Each one is designed to create boundaries and breath life into our fall so we can actually enjoy it.
#1: Go to bed within an hour of putting the kids to bed so that you can get up before them. Girl, listen. We know diving into Scripture or reading some N.T. Wright isn’t going to happen before 6am. But, get up anyway. Lower your expectations of “morning quiet time”. Get showered. Offer the day to Jesus amidst the warm vanilla suds. Put on something cute-ish and listen to some Gungor. Drink coffee in peace. Pray for your babies while they sleep. Prepare your heart to be Jesus in the flesh before they shuffle downstairs, groggy and rumpled and in need of an “un-hurried” hug. They need their mama. Sure, they may get her the first week or two of school because we’re so excited to send them back. Remember this: the novelty of back-to-school will run out but their need for peace at the start of the day won’t.
#2: Don’t agree to lead, serve, host, or bake anything new for at least two weeks. You need those first two weeks to re-acquit yourself to the voice of Jesus in the silence of your house. Sure you’ve heard him on Sunday morning at church, while reading a book at the park, or on a podcast this summer, but this is different. He has new things to say to you. BabyGirl, if you’re Pinteresting when you should be pausing…will you hear it? Will you hear him? If you’re planning a bible study only to impress a new group of women, will your heart be touched the same way if were just messy old you and Jesus? I’m not sure. So take these two weeks. Ease into your new schedule and enjoy the quiet with our King.
#3: Take walks, go for a scenic drive, sit at the park, go apple picking by yourself. George Washington Carver says, “I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in”. So tune in. Tune in knowing that not a single child you’re responsible for will run up to you with a boo-boo, a desperate plea for playground justice, or begging for money for the ice-cream truck. You live in Boston—in the fall for Pete’s sake! It won’t last long and you’ll be sorry you missed it. And yes, I know you’re wondering…. you may buy yourself the occasional pumpkin spice latte. And an apple cider donut. Maybe two. Go crazy, Boo!
#4: Get to know one mother in each child’s class that you do not already know. You can’t live motherhood in a vacuum. You need to stand in solidarity with other moms who suffer under the ridiculously early 7:55am drop off. You need friends who know the homework your kids “forgot”. You need a go-to girl for a last minute pick up, carpool, or an impromptu play date. This may not seem like Kingdom work, but it is. It’s the work of Jesus: creating space and opportunity for someone to be known, seen, loved and supported. Yourself included. So plan a play date after school or linger at drop off a bit longer than comfortable. Make an effort to know and be known.
#5: Encourage your children’s teachers, attend back to school night, and actually read what they send home. These precious women are “mamas” to your children for six hours a day. Support them in the same ways you as a mama for the other eighty-two waking hours would like to be supported. They’re always asking your kids what are their hopes and dreams for the school year— why don’t you ask them theirs. Send them a thank you note by the end of the month. They too are adjusting to a new schedule and a new pace of life, so give them grace when they don’t meet your initial expectations. Pray for them on your walk back to the house. Pray for safety, wisdom, energy, joy, and peace. Ask Jesus how you can reflect his love to your children’s teachers.
These are your portions! Better and braver because they require to you be and not do. Promise me you’ll take on nothing more or less for at least one month. Don’t get yourself work up and fussy over all the wrong things. Commit now, while the house is quiet and the opportunities are enticing, to choose the better portion.
If not, I will be sending Day-After-Christmas-Osheta a letter of her own, and it’ll probably start with….
Awesome job ruining Christmas for everyone with your blow-ups, stank attitude, and over-committed schedule…
So there it is my friend—kind intervention now or hate mail on your blog later. It’s your choice. Choose the better portion.