Friday, September 23, 2016

When My Spying Ears Encouraged My Exhausted Heart

Today I am tired.  Like tired to my bones, need to prop my feet up, lay on the heating pad, bought my kids McDonald's and let them watch tv all evening kind of tired.  Today I packed lunches and dropped 4 kids off at school, dropped 9 boxes and 2 grocery sacks full of items at our church garage sale, taught 1st grade, fed 4 kids lunch, tried to put 3 toddlers down for a nap that apparently none of them wanted to take.  Priced items at the yard sale, changed 5 diapers, searched for more diapers because all 3 of them ran out, folded up and put away 3 pack-n-plays, cleaned poopy underwear, dealt with my daughter's dramatic meltdown about how sweaty she was while she waited for me to finish all my work so we could go home... (I love how a sweaty 4-year-old can't see the sweat dripping down her mom's face while she is looking right at her)... and I'm just tired. worn out.  exhausted.

One busy day is bearable.  Two, three... but busyness seems my constant state lately.  And it is mostly because 99% of the time I am surrounded by small children.  Usually 3 or 4 children, but always at least my own 2.  And I am usually on my own with them.  On Sundays you may see me with 16 toddlers.  Monday-Friday, again, I am with 1st graders or at recess duty with Kindergartners through 3rd graders.  And when I leave them, my own are once again with me until I make them lay down at night.  Always noise.  And mess.  And fighting.  And being selfish.  And hopefully hearing the Gospel I am trying to give them in my teaching them... Please?

I see adults in passing.  I have meaningful conversations with them even less.  Sometimes I fear I have forgotten how to have an adult conversation... like what do you say to someone who brushes their own teeth and doesn't need you to wipe their bottom?!  Sometimes I feel very much at a loss.  Like I am struggling to find a time to go get even a haircut... and I'm not sure what topics I am even qualified to discuss with the adult stylist once I actually get an appointment and go!

I am a busy woman.  I am so busy that I don't really ever have time to think about it.  I am also married to a busy man.  And we live in a busy world.  Between the two of us, we have 5 jobs, 4 of them being part-time of course (because we only have the same 24 hours everyone else does), and all the while we are parenting small children... very stubborn, spirited small children.  Fortunately, they get it from us, and most of the time we are stubborn and spirited enough to manage.  But right now is my husband's busiest time of year with his full-time job, and while we truly do bear one another's burdens emotionally... many times he just isn't available to help me physically carry the load I am to carry.  He says he married because I am strong.  And a lot of the time, I guess this strength he says I have allows me to get a lot done and mostly enjoy it all - all the moving, teaching, redirecting, reminding, disciplining, forgiving, explaining... most of the time I love being surrounded by these little people who are ignorant of how ugly the world can be... these little persons whose biggest problems are that their pb&j isn't cut the right way!  But by the end of the work day today, my strength was gone... burned up... blown in the wind.

And I was thinking about this today as I reflected on what the past weeks of my hubby's busy season has been like for me.  I don't blame him; this job that keeps him so busy and gone from home often is what feeds, clothes, and shelters me and my children.  I am thankful for his work, and for mine.  But today I was really thinking as I priced books at the yard sale... All I really want is to sit for hours and read.  I want quiet.  I want solitude.  I want to be left alone.  I don't want to be touched.  I don't want to buckle car seats.  I don't want to wipe butts, tie shoes, wipe snotty noses, explain once again why we don't hit our sibling, or tell a sobbing 4-year-old to take deep breaths and calm down while I cut the itchy tag out of her shirt.  And it isn't like wanting a billion dollars that no one you know personally has either, so you don't get so upset knowing it won't happen... instead there are people all around me who get to pee by themselves or go for a walk to clear their head... I mean, I could go for a walk, but answering 4,000 questions about why that dog only has 3 legs and why we can't hate mean people will only make more of a muddle!

I am so tired lately, that even the idea of spending time with my friends sounds like too much work.  And I am a very social person!  I am just so tired!

And when we are tired, our guards are down.  I know mine goes down quickly when I am running on fumes!  I start to get jealous of people who breezily mention they read a book, grew a garden (which I wouldn't want to do anyway), took an interesting class, shopped in a store for something other than groceries... many of the people I hear say these things are my friends who are just older enough than me to have grown kids... like they aren't old enough to be my parents, but definitely like an older sister-type... and sometimes I find myself wishing our lives away to get there to their status.  To have time to be a woman with interests and friends and brunches/lunches/coffees/day trips... I honestly don't have any hobbies anymore, unless you count having Netflix on in the background or occasionally reading the assigned book for my book club (which I haven't even started the one we are supposed to be reading now... I haven't even ordered it... I really haven't thought about it much either).

But tonight as I walked out of the yard sale that we were prepping, across the parking lot I barely overheard a conversation between 2 older moms.  Both have older-to-grown kids.  Both of them are dealing with having to watch their older kids make major life-decisions... and they are both worried as they watch their kids make the wrong choices.  At first I only thought of them, for them... I prayed a prayer of thanks to God that they can run into someone else who is going through something similar.  Then I thought about them in comparison with my struggle.  I started to think about how difficult it would be to watch your older kids - people you have literally poured most of your life's hours into leading, guiding, teaching - go against what you taught them, watch them believe lies, choose negative influences in their lives, permanently tie themselves to these negative influences, and sometimes even cut you completely off from their lives.  I'm sure it happens more than I know.

And I realized that this parenting job doesn't end.  Sure, it changes... morphs... appears different.  These ladies I saw conversing in the parking lot have more time on their hands now to pursue their interests and just to live life at a more enjoyable pace... plenty of time to stop in the middle of a parking lot and have a deep discussion without worrying about a short person getting hit by a car... but they are still mamas.  You could see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices.  I didn't listen to much of the conversation, but just the few small pieces I overheard, put together with what I know their families are struggling through right now... they still worry.  They still wish they could fix it all, and they can't.  They still wish they could smack some wisdom into their child's heart and mind so they may spare them of having to learn it all the hard way.

And then I looked down at my littles.  These 2 cuties that God has entrusted to me for this time... and I realized that it will always be a trade off.  Now, my time and energy is strapped.  Later it will also be my money.  After that, I'll get my time back, but I'll be older... and my interests may change by then.  And these little people will live elsewhere... maybe across town, maybe across the ocean.  And I will have to watch from the sidelines, whatever glimpses they allow me to have, every life-decision they make for themselves.  I won't be tying their shoes or packing their lunches or yelling at them to stop yelling in the car (yep, I have done that... several times)... but I'll still have to be trusting God with them every step of the way.

So today I am just too tired.  I won't always feel like this.  I'll probably wake up tomorrow ready to go 90 mph again, probably chasing them! But it is now that I have to learn contentment.  It is now I must rely upon the Lord for the strength I need.  Because in the blink of an eye, I'll wake up one day... and I'll have way more time to worry and mull over what only He has control over, anyway.  I won't always be so busy.  I won't always have to make so many in-the-moment decisions that affect other people.  But I will always have something that is bigger than me, and I will always be a flawed human whose reach doesn't go half as far as I would like.

So I go to sleep tonight.  And I rest.  For I serve a big God, the only true God.  I am inadequate.  He already knew that.  I won't get it right.  He is prepared for that.  But if He allows me to wake in the morning, He promises new mercies await me there... that He has a purpose for each day He wakes me... and that He will be my adequacy for me... He will overflow my cup.

"How deep the Father's love for us.  How vast beyond all measure..."

And knowing that... gives me the sweetest rest, not just for my body, but for my soul.

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