The inspiration for this post came from two “cinder block” moments I had this summer. Both involved crying, out-of-control children and both involved me. I will spare you the details of the first, as I am sure you have an example or two of your own child to insert here. I will also spare you the details of my part in the disaster, and just say I did not handle the situation with any sense of tenderness or compassion. We all lose it sometimes and I did that night – in spades. I was shaken and exhausted the next day and felt like I had to repair a rent in a piece of fabric thread by thread.
The second cinder block moment came after a crazy couple of weeks, which included Vincent’s summer camp (think driving to town every day), Jude’s birthday and extended celebration (think lots of dessert and later bedtimes), and an impromptu family trip to HOT-lanta, just in case we hadn’t done enough (think hot, Hot, HOT, then add go-carts and legos). Tuesday of the next week, Vincent had his weekly 2-hour woodworking class and then we all had dentist appointments. After picking up Vincent at noon, my plan was to get lunch and then head to the dentist. I gave the boys 2 choices for lunch. Vincent picked one and Jude balked. Suddenly I found myself in the TJ Maxx parking lot, on a Tuesday in late July, with two hot, tired, hungry, crying children. This time, in my own hot, tired and hungry self, I found a shred of tender compassion, and glimpsed the difference between being in the moment and being given the grace to see beyond the moment.
My boys were maxed out. For the previous two weeks they had lived life at a pace that #1) they are not used to and #2) is not sustainable (at least to our family). And here we were at the breaking point, with both boys hungry and tired, arguing and crying. Grace-filled insight aside, I still had to feed them lunch and get to the dentist. I didn’t really say anything, although in my head I was ranting: “If I make it through this day, I swear I am parking my car in the driveway and not moving it for a week!” (I’m positive my thoughts weren’t that coherent or expletive-free, but you get the idea.) It wasn’t long, maybe a couple of minutes, and Vincent rallied and compromised. We ate, got to the dentist on time, had cavity-free check ups and came home.
Abundance wears many disguises, as my mother commented recently. And it is true. There are all those voices constantly crying for us to do more: more lessons, more camps, more activities, more adventures. However, on that day, I didn’t have to go far to hear the cry for less. Normally, I don’t want to do it all. I don’t even want to do half of it all. As the school year begins and it seems as though there are so many incredible enrichment activities to do, I’m trying to remember what that looks like in reality. I’m trying to be intentional with my time. I’m saying no to some things: a pottery class for Vincent and a Waldorf enrichment class for Jude. We are saying no to sports for another year. Both boys are doing cub scouts and pennywhistle lessons and that is enough. The rest of the time will be spent at home: doing school, playing outside, reading on the couch, cooking and eating in the kitchen. For me, for them, for now, that is enough.