Happy Memorial Day, y'all.
The silence is deafening. After getting the awful tummy stuff outta here, all of my "littles" have been elsewhere occupied for the day and I've spent the majority of the last three days relaxing, recuperating, and refueling. Much needed, I tell ya.
David and I have only had his oldest at home, hobbling around after knee surgery. We have eaten a lot of junk and spent the day laughing and enjoying one another.
I've spent the last hour with my "to do" list that is longer than my arm to prepare all these children for their upcoming activities. One headed to Haiti....one headed to Harding ......one starting physical therapy.....one headed to Hattiesburg.....one in the midst of Football and all THAT entails....and another just home enjoying his summer.
Recently, I sat in the parking lot to pick up #5 from basketball (age14), I'm reminded that I'm an outsider. You see? For years, my best friends were those parents of the #1's friends and teammates. When you travel three weekends a month, they become your family. All through school, when I would need help with carpools or really ANYTHING....I knew one of about 8 moms that I could call and before I could even "ask" the answer was "yes". And vice versa. To this day....I could probably call for anything and get that same answer. Our friendships ran much deeper than baseball.
But as I was saying, I knew no one. Already, at a recent parent meeting, the other moms were name-dropping, and politic-ing, and pairing up into their obvious connections and I sat there feeling very old. And alone. I wanted to stand up and tell them so much of what I learned over the years. That the coaches don't really care who you are or where they get their private lessons from.....it will all be decided on the court. I chuckled to myself and AT myself for being stuck back in the land of "8th grade basketball".
What really bothered me, though, is the alone feeling came more from not having another parent to lean on with my new son. To help with carpools, and lunches, and Sonic runs. I began questioning my ability to do it all. It's tough, y'all.
All of my best friends are entering the empty nest time of life. While I, am starting over. Am older. And tired-er, and yes. Just a little bit wiser. Almost a pro. Or should be anyway. Ha
So much to do while nurturing a new job. 30 minutes from home. A job that I love. That has brought with it challenge, and value, and enables me to hopfully make a difference. Also, it has brought with it precious new friends. Friends I want to help, and be teammates with, and not let down.
Overwhelmed doesn't even begin to describe how I feel some days. To be needed by so many. For SO MANY, need my 100%. Very few in my world understand.
I'm praying for balance. To be able to give ALL of me to no less than 10 people on any given day. 7 of which live under my roof. Each and every one expect and deserve all of me. And I've pledged to do just that.
I've began reading and putting into practice "The Love Dare For Parents". Cheesy, maybe. But hey....I'm not to proud to ask for help. And from Him.
With 6 kids...it's gonna take a bit more than 40 days. I'm going at my own pace with it. It's taken me back to my favorite chapter of the Bible...1 Corinthians 13. Ya know....Love is Patient. Love is kind.
We all know it. We all love it. But...do we all live it?
It's got me praying those "scary prayers" that I've talked about before. The ones where you better be ready to hear Him....listen to Him.... And be obedient to Him.
In my parental "Love Dare" journey, I am met with daily challenges, and charged with writing about the effects of each one. Example: "Tell each of your children that you love them." Like....duh. We all say that each day. But no....Like, take the child's face in your hands.....and look them in the eye....and let them know you REALLY love them. And hug them. And hang on for a minute. So I did just that!
Other days....I was charged with doing an unexpected act of kindness...."Love is kind"....get the idea? That day, I handwrote a little note to each kiddo, placed a $5 gift card to Sonic in it....so they could enjoy a happy hour or two on ole mom. I placed it under their placemat at dinner time. For ONCE, we had all the kiddos at home at once. They loved finding their "little act of kindness" for the day. It ended with the whole family playing wiffle ball in the front yard. It was a perfect summer evening.
Another place my journey has taken me is quite shameful. The "Love is Patient" day had me crawling under the table hiding my face like sometimes Pastor Rick's sermons do. It challenges us to see that serving our children is an honor and a privilege! For you see? The "to do" list I mentioned earlier in this post is pretty typical. No, they don't travel to other states and other countries every day....but the craziness of their lives....when only two are driving....gets tricky.
I find myself complaining while in service to the ones I love the most. When in reality, I should be honored to invest my love and compassion into their futures....just as I've done for years. Being tired at the end of the day...means I've done a job well. Means I've come home to those who need me....and helped to meet their needs. Being overwhelmed....means I have active and healthy children who are thriving in their activities. It means I am loving. And being loved.
The more "patience" I practice today....will mean more victories to celebrate tomorrow. Patience helps us to minimize those things which are negative. And Kindness helps us to be a blessing. Kindness is love in action. Not just in the form of a Sonic card. But it our everyday attitudes toward the daily demands of life. It's simply investing in the hearts that we have been given to nurture.
Only on day 4....and its some good stuff friends. So much so...that I am going to pray and study and invest in myself as a mother before moving on to 5. I want to get this down pat. :)
As my "to do" list continues to grow and change. As the color-coordinated calendar whereby each child has his/her own color is filled, completed, and marked off, and as my ole body wears down.....I realize how blessed I am with the completely beautifully FULL nest I have been charged with loving and serving.
I cannot imagine what kind of parent would ever EVER turn away from a child. That is a "grace" I pray about extending daily. I'm just not there yet. But that said, God chose me to be there for 6 wonderful children. And with His guidance....I will not take that lightly. We aren't a perfect family. But we sure have our perfect moments.
"Dare to Love".....is my challenge to you. As parents. Partners. Friends. As God's children. I've learned in Days 1-4....The practice of Love, Patience, and Kindness can be extended to all we meet. I am pretty sure none of these will steer ya wrong. :)
Train 'em up!!! Ephesians 3:17 tells us to "...root them, and ground them in love."
How else will they bloom????
PS. I have a prayer request: My David finally was able to see a hand specialist on Friday. News was not good. He is facing surgery for both hands for severe Carpel Tunnel Syndrome. Facing being out of work 4-6 weeks...PER HAND. I cannot begin to tell you how that effects a family of 8....two going into their senior year, with one already in college. Please pray for us. Diligently. And without ceasing. We have definitely been tested in the "sickness and health" arena! :). Please pray that He hold this man that I love so much...and loves and protects our family like no other. Thank you.