Thursday, August 11, 2016

Change with the Days

The kids have been back in school for exactly one week but it feels more like a month. We're all a bit whiplashed over the switch from easy-does-it living to all-in routine, complete with a few emotional break-downs, tired kids, tired parents, forgotten instruments and gym shoes, homework angst, reading logs, and being forced to come in and shower while the neighbors are still out playing.

I have the house to myself during the day, but I'm remembering all over again what it's like to work all day and then just sort of never stop working. The hours from 8-2:30 fly by while I write and do work-related things, clean up the house, start dinner, fold laundry, run my neighbors around, and sometimes even shower. Afternoons and evenings are a rush of homework, dinner, and with any luck, a round of Yahtzee (Calvin whooped me last night). I have kids that now stay up until almost 9, and once they're down I usually remember one more work thing that I need to finish. I might have some down time around 10:30, and I'm usually up until midnight.

What I'm trying to say is, I have not hit my groove.

What I'm also trying to say is, I have it at least 89% easier than many (most?) of you, and I won't ever pretend that's not the case. I know some of you would give your left big toe to be able to work from home or walk your kids to school or hey, maybe just have another adult in the house to help you with anything ever. I think you're a total rock-star, and if I could, I would toss this computer out the window and clear a space for you at this scratched up table so we could share some muffins and tea.

I suppose we're all doing our best, and often feeling like it's not enough. I'm trying to maintain perspective and stop entertaining fantasies about not picking up after anyone in my house for two solid days just so everyone around me would see all I do for them and fall at my feet weeping with repentance, for the love

I actually added something new to my day and I think it will help, if I let it. I honestly don't remember how I even came to the decision, or why. I just know that after walking the kids to school on their second day, instead of turning around and retracing my steps back home, I crossed a different street and kept going. I walked through a different park, up into the neighborhood across the street from ours, along a fence-row that's wrought iron instead of chain-link, past rows of homes with broken window panes, keeping my eye on sidewalks buckled in different places. Today, I found a random penny, Lincoln-up, so I grabbed it. As I walked, I spotted four more, and left them for someone else to find.

So far, August is a new pair of shoes that pinch our feet. We're not quite ready. It's not broken-in yet, or maybe we aren't.

But now is now and I know my days are ordered. I know God uses the mundane to reorient my priorities. I know he uses my most fitful child to show me myself, and his love for me. I know he uses leaves rustling with the coming of rain to remind me to pray. I know he uses my place, my tiny spot on the map of his kingdom, to draw me closer to Him.

Here are a few things making me smile right now:

Pray as You Go app - I listen to this each morning while I walk, (thanks, D.L.!) and it is everything to me. Produced by Jesuits, the website describes it as "a framework for your own prayer." It lasts around 13 minutes, combining music, Bible readings, and time for reflection and prayer. You can read more about it here

Sun tea with herbed simple syrup
I brew black tea in my big jug on the front porch, then make flavored simple syrup (1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 large sprig or handful of herbs, combine over heat until sugar is melted, let steep for a while, discard herbs.) Right now I have a batch of basil syrup and a batch of mint syrup. I spend part of every afternoon moderating the amount of syrup Silas adds to his tea and part of every evening telling Calvin it's too late to drink tea. 

My ever-changing book stack
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano
if you want to be sure
that you are nothing more than small
stand at the edge of the ocean
looking out

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
"We arrive in this world with birthright gifts - then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them. As young people, we are surrounded by expectations held by people who are not trying to discern our selfhood but to fit us into slots...we are trained away from true self toward images of acceptability; under social pressures like racism and sexism our original shape is deformed beyond recognition, and we ourselves, driven by fear, too often betray true self to gain the approval of others."

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
If you live in community with Latino neighbors (and I hope you do!) this is a must-read. I brought it home after hearing it recommended by my friend Osheta Moore and Calvin very casually said, "Oh, you'll like that one." Apparently some of the 4th graders read it at Chamberlain, so I spent the first half of my summer talking about it with him and our neighbor girl. (It's only $5 through Amazon Prime!)

What's something helping keep you afloat during these trying dog days?

*Amazon affiliate links used