It’s too late to start writing this morning. I see the activity of this day laid out on my calendar and there simply isn’t time for me to be sitting here, laptop and coffee in hand. I need to be here though, I have this desire to pour out the thoughts that jostle about in my head and so here I sit. I will be late for activities today, I will not get done all of the things that I so strongly hope I will. Instead, what will happen is my children will wake and stomp in the dusting of snow, shrieking and giggling (and likely complaining of the cold wind blowing). We will go about our morning routine and we will be behind. We always are.
I’ve often joked that we aren’t late we’re just on homeschool time. By this I mean, not just that as homeschoolers we don’t have to rush our mornings onto the school bus, but that we frequently get lost in some activity or book and lose all track of time. We will beg grace from friends and grace will be given. I say, “thanks for waiting for me.” instead of “sorry that we’re late.” and it does at least help me feel a tiny bit better about my lack of timeliness. I often wonder if I can apply “God’s perfect timing” to my tardiness, but I think that might be a bit of a stretch. As I am often late, I am trying to be really aware and present in my relationships. This goes along with my Advent goals and so I am already planning how I will behave in my interactions with others as we go about our day.
I feel it only all too true to not also mention how much my lateness always makes me want to cancel plans, stay home, refuse activity. I suppose there is at least a trace of introvert inside of me, the tiny part that hopes you’ll text to say “something came up…” so that I get to stay in my jammies and not rush my people out the door. This is in stark opposition to who I am once I am out. I really do thrive in the company of others, I need to be in relationship to feel filled up. Such a contradiction that I have to (some days) force myself out of the house and other days I cry because I have nowhere to go and so I am lonely.
Over the past few days I have cancelled plans. We were sick and that allowed me to stay home and rest with my people. This “being sick” has definitely caused me to lean into God and trust in the good work He is doing. When I was a child my mother would over-work herself until she was unable to get out of bed. As a woman who struggled I suppose it makes sense. She couldn’t afford not to work, until she couldn’t physically do it. Even as a little girl I remember feeling her illnesses were like God telling her to slow down, to just be. As a mother myself now, I see the forced slowing down as frustrating, but also as a reminder. If I could practice better self-care ahead of the sickness, if I listened more carefully to my inner-voice, if I were present in the here and now instead of always rushing ahead to the next task…if only. Every month that passes without illness I lean harder into the tasks that fill my to-do list. Every week without exhaustion pressing in on me is spent pressing on to get a little more done.
I wonder if trying to live at the current speed of my life is what makes me sick. If my continued rushing about, which causes my lack of presence, is what causes me to break. Not in that by being busy I get sick, but by in not hearing what I need I fall ill. If I were able to figure out what is necessary, or to refocus on what I know to be most important would I then find myself feeling well more of my days?
This is a major theme in my writing, a quick look back through my blog will show that I continue to come back to this topic of hurry or living fully present. I can see the pattern as I scroll, but can I learn from it? What is the lesson here anyway? And how will I apply it to my day to day? If I could learn from myself I suppose it would be good to acknowledge that I am done trying to live at a pace I am not suited for. Those words are easy to type, not so easy to carry out when there are schedules to be kept. The secret though is in the details, as it so often is. I will still need to arrive at scheduled activities on time, but to do this more on pace with who I am I can switch the rush and crazy that I usually use to get out the door to include more prep time, a quieter voice, deliberate acts. This will take practice and teaching of littles. They are currently trained to only hurry when I am losing it, I believe they can be led by a softer hand if I am patient.
There is no time to write this morning, the rush of the day pushes in, yet here I sit. There is no time not to write this morning, the need to put thoughts to paper fills my being and necessitates that I be still and listen. By being here I am hearing my own voice first and giving grace to myself. By not rushing to clean up after children or fill the day with activities I am practicing the much needed self-care. By tapping away at these keys I am putting myself out into the world while still being here, at home, caring for my family in whatever way we most need to be cared for.
My family is healthier today, our physical bodies are healing and we have rested well. More than that though I have a few new ideas on how to care for myself. More than just taking a break from the busy-ness of our lives, I will choose not to live in that place. We will slow the hectic parts of our schedules, we will realize that we can control only so much, the rest must be accepted. And truly we must accept the rest we are given. Whether we wanted it or not. There is truth here, there is grace here, ultimately there is long sought after peace here.
As Advent actively moves forward in the expectancy of Christ’s birth I will not rush through it. I will hear God’s whisper to be still, and I will be still. I will hear His call to slow down, and I will slow. I will expectantly wait for His leading, his timing in all things great and small. Knowing that in the waiting, in the Advent, in the journey, I will find joy and I will echo back that joy with my thanksgiving. This is what is necessary, good, helpful. That I stop to give thanks for the busy days, for the hectic times, for finding the peace in the moment that feels completely devoid of it. That is the secret, the lesson I needed today.