Friday, November 08, 2013

Serenity Now

When I was an worn out Mama of little ones who were home a lot with noses to wipe, tears to dry, diapers to change, minds to keep challenged and toys everywhere under foot, I could not conceive of what older Mamas meant by motherhood being a different kind of exhausting as children age.

As a stay-at-home Mama of nine and a half  year olds who spend eight hours a day outside my home I am starting to get it. I have time now to tame the laundry beast, keep the kitchen sink clean, the pantry and fridge stocked, and efficiently run errands without helpers. I even have time to read, work out and go to small group!

And yet I am a different kind of tired--exhausted by my frustrated expectations.

Lest anyone roll their cyber eyes at my ungratefulness, I KNOW in my head I "have it made." This more confession and less pity party. While I spend a fair amount of time 'working' outside the home it is on a volunteer basis, which provides a great deal of flexibility 'real' working Moms do not experience. I know my life could be so much more hectic and demanding. This isn't a competition.

Despite my flexibility, this selfish Mama is still pushing back against the demands on "my time" with the children in the afternoons. There's still so much to teach--so many memories to be made! My idealism over our precious four hours in the afternoon is rudely interrupted by the reality of homework, the downtime they desperately crave, the extracurricular activities, worn out people who have been "on" all day at school and the car time flip flopping from place the place.

My evening time with my husband is interrupted by all the important grown up decisions that have to be made, conversations about kids behavior, budgeting and lists.

In my overly romanticized mind I find myself asking: Where is the time for life lessons around the crackling fire? Snuggles on the sofa? Baking cookies? Afternoon adventure? Candlelight dinner? That's what a sweet wife/homemaker is supposed to do, right? Why must I be the constant reminder, task manager, time keeper?

I spend all day trying to prepare my home to be a peaceful place of rest and refilling--and yet even here there are chores, homework times, unexpected demands and REAL LIFE. All these things that I perceive as inconveniences, interruptions and hiccups to "the life I had planned" are the daily reality of the life we are actually living.

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans." -Allen Saunders

I have been wrestling with how to live the stage we are in rather than wishing it were different when the Lord brought to mind the Serenity Prayer. Most of us are familiar with the first part:

"God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

but I was equally moved by the less often quoted remainder of the prayer:
"Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
-Reinhold Niebuhr
I can change some things: my attitude, unnecessary activities, how I order my day...but other things I must simply accept as part of living in this world.

And while I may not be able to accomplish the idealized version of teaching life lessons like I once did over play dough with stimulating music playing the background--there are VERY IMPORTANT real life lessons I can absolutely be modeling in our present circumstances. The way I model (or don't) consistency and peace in the realities of 'mundane' life are making quite an impression on little hearts and souls. As they live with me, what are they learning about

Time management,
Work ethic- doing our best on assignments,
Good attitudes,
Respect for authority, including coaches, instructors, teachers, directors,
Kindness to the real people behind the hands in the drive through windows,
How to respond to the daily stresses of real life
Jesus being real to me in all of it?

At the most basic level, I must remember to pause for a few seconds to really *see* my children. To smile. To listen to them (even when it is rambling about Pokémon). To touch a shoulder. To hug. To laugh.

I am reminded that this world is not going to be perfect, but the Lord is using it to sanctify us and perfect us through the circumstances along the way. And the most important thing I can remember is to not forgot to do all of this in love.

1 comment:

Cass said...

My 3 boys are "only" 5, 4, and 2 but I can so relate and understand your thoughts here. Thanks so much for confessing and articulating this struggle between idealism and reality … I am bookmarking this for sure.