Friday, August 17, 2012

On Summer and Re-entry, Worry and Grace

I've been off the grid this summer in the best and worst ways. It's been a summer of not much, of rest and lazy and neighborhood play. And all of this has been more by default than by design. 

We didn't join a pool or sign up for craft camps or go here there and everywhere. Yesterday I realized that we embarked on exactly three play dates all summer with kids and moms, zero of which I initiated. I didn't meet up with a single friend for coffee, dinner, or chit-chat. The Man and I went on two dates, one of them for our anniversary. 

For several reasons, I just didn't have it in me to do a whole lot of anything. And because my kids have plenty of neighborhood play and a wheelbarrow of imagination, they fared just fine. 

If I measured these summer days with the yardstick of productivity, plans fulfilled, and a sunny disposition, I'd deem it a failed three months. Because the yardstick is my default, it's easy to scan the June through August blur and shake my head in disappointment, wishing I'd had more to give and more to show. 

But I didn't. And I'm pretty sure that the only one who scans and measures and judges in this house is me. As I type this post, the boys have built a fort for the dog out of sofa pillows and old blankets. The girl has just staggered out of bed and stares sleepily out the window. 

This vignette has characterized our summer and now we only have a few days left.

As failed and lazy and lackluster as it sometimes seems {especially when the fort building degenerates into a screaming match and a tug-of-war ensues over the dog and they all whine and beg because they want more time on Club Penguin}, we have lived these days with a lot of togetherness. That thought wraps me in a blanket of consolation. 

And it's the reason I've cried every day this week. 

This week we've done middle school registration, band orientation, and elementary school meet-the-teacher. Soon they'll have their own teachers, classrooms, pursuits, and friends. And this will all be good and okay. {I hope.} I know this because we've done it before and I watched them flourish within walls beyond those of home. I know this because they are excited and ready. I know this because it's what we feel called to do for now.

In the moments of crazy and rivalry and Mama-needs-a-break, I am ready for them to be productive citizens elsewhere. But on a morning like this, when regret and nostalgia and family togetherness mingle and swirl and taste so very bittersweet...well, the tears begin to flow. Again.

I struggle against the desire to push it down and get it together. But this is where I am so I've just decided to accept my emotional state and know that I'll be a mess for a bit longer.  

The summer we've traversed, the done and the undone staring me in the face, the joy and pain as a new school year looms, the fear and fret that only a mother's time to hand it all over.

Only He holds the future and heals the past. Why do I try to wrangle it away?

Only He has a plan that uses the good, bad, and ugly for our good and for his glory. Why do I waste time with regret and micro-managing and saving face?

Only He loves my babies with more love than I can ever muster. Why do I refuse to trust Him with their days?

If you're right here with me, carrying the weight of the world, worrying over your kids, and laboring under the illusion of control, how 'bout we make a pact to let go and live in today? 

Regret is a bully. Worry is a leech. But Grace is a life-saver, a life-giver, a wound-healer, and a day-maker. Grace holds out freedom, hope, and provision for all of us. God gives us all the grace we need but only one day at a time. 

So unfold your clenched fingers. Unfurrow that brow. Lift your face to the Father and receive Grace for today.  

And when tomorrow comes? He's got more. 


  1. ". . . and receive Grace for today." There it is, that "wrap-it-up-and-put-a-bow-on-it" phrase.

    And by the way, your kids have had a great summer. I know . . . I asked them.


  2. Please remove "failed," "failure," and "failing" from your vocabulary. You did not, are not, and will not, especially when it comes to your children. Listen to your mother; she is a wise woman.

  3. I applaud you for letting your children hang out in their space. My very best memories from childhood are playing with all the neighborhood kids and pretending/playing with my sisters.

    Now that my daughter is 20, I sit back and watch the other moms I know. I honestly am very concerned amount of over-scheduling/ "running" everyone seems to be doing. Parents are on edge, children are tired, etc. Chuck even asked the other day...I wonder if kids even want to do half of what there parents have them signed up to do?

    I just know your children will look back at summer with joy and anticipate with excitement the one to come.

  4. Beautifully said. Thanks for the thought-provoking post and best wishes in your new role.

  5. Thank you.

    I'm sitting here with open house looming tonight and the first day tomorrow and I'm fighting tears and sadness and worry and MEH.

    Thank you.

  6. I agree with the comment that I think a lot of kids are over scheduled. But then I worry mine are under scheduled. ;) If you think it's difficult for you to turn over control, try having a child with food allergies! There were so many times last year that God showed me He was taking care of my son through me, and teachers, and other parents, and sometimes in spite of us! I think on those incredible moments of His grace despite my mistakes when I start feeling a need to be in charge of the details. :)

  7. Thank you...the week before school starts is so difficult for me. The kids are great but me? An emotional basket case...perhaps I just need to embrace and accept the tears and know that it's ok to feel this way. **sigh** I truly appreciate your post...putting into words the hearts of so many!

  8. As usual, your honesty slays me. I am really struggling with the concept of grace in my home with my three teenagers. They are all good kids - no major issues to complain about. Just some disrespectful attitudes for the most part. One of the main things I am struggling with is decisions I have made as a mom about schooling. My boys are young for their grade (August birthdays) and we started them to school on time. It seems like everyone else waited a year. I now wish I had done that with my younger son. Grades and attention span are a big issue. BUT I know the truth you shared that our God has a bigger picture for them than high school and He loves them more than I do is what I need to remember right now. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. this happened in our home as well. we played with others some, but mostly kept to ourselves. i'm pregnant and lacking energy to plan in advance, trying to stay afloat here, blah blah blah. i also didn't get any of my summer projects completed around the house and hardly updated my blog. so what did i do with our summer....?

    like you - i noticed this - the kiddos grew closer in their friendships this summer. i saw it. :) so for that alone, the summer was a sucess - despite what was left undone.


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