A Deeper Sense of Community

I write about community quite often. About how children can not thrive without a group of supportive people, how each of us needs a tribe to call our own. Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how much the women in my own circle have grown closer. I feel like I am a little on the outside because we are off adventuring so much, and while this makes me a teensy bit sad, I can still feel the shift and it brings me so much joy. Some of us need it more than we would even care to admit.

I have frequently felt like the group of women that I’ve come to call mine through homeschooling is special, we are not a bunch of moms who get together regularly so that our kids have normal-ish friendships and educational opportunities. Well, we are that. More than that though the women I homeschool with are friends, helpers, sisters…some of them are like silly aunties to my kids. Others are trusted adults who can be relied upon in difficult circumstances. To me though, the women in this group are simply what keep me going on days when it’s hard to do so.

Over the few years that I’ve known them, these friends of mine have gone through a lot. There has been so much life lived and when one (or more) of these women has struggled, I’ve seen them lifted up again and again. As a group we have cleaned each others houses, we have sat with tears, we have pulled weeds, we have welcomed babies, we have brought meals and watched each others kids. Most of the time these things have been done without anyone asking, for some reason I am surrounded by this group of women who simply want to do life together. They are such an answer to prayer.

Recently I was feeling like I couldn’t do this thing-that-needed-doing in my life. In the past I would have talked to God, talked to my husband, probably not have done the thing. This time though, I did something else. I still brought it to God first. My husband and I did talk it over and he encouraged me to move forward, I was still afraid. I was afraid of angry words coming back to me, of a harshly worded “no”. So, I reached out to my circle. I told a few friends what I needed to do and what my fear was and they all spoke words of support and encouragement to me. I did the thing-that-needed-doing and the answer that I received was not nearly as scary as I had anticipated it being. There is still a road to walk there, but my point is that I would not have confidently taken that first step if not for these wonderful friends.

In reaching out a couple of other things happened too, other needs were exposed. Other hurts touched on. Conversations were had that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have happened. In other circles of women we worry. We worry about being judged. We worry that we are not enough and that we are too much and that we can never, ever, in a million years live up to the invisible standard of the group. I am blessed by the opposite of that. I’m not exactly sure how I came to know these moms, these teachers, these women, but I am oh-so-glad that I have them in my life.

I wonder how I will give this to my kids. I wonder if I even can give it to them. Will they hold tight to the friends that they have now? Growing together in their friendships as they grow in size. Will I instill in them a deep need to not do life alone, will they feel it in the very soul of themselves and seek out this same sort of circle as they move out into the world? I hope so. I want it for them, not only because I don’t want them to be lonely, but because life is so much better lived in this community! It is so freeing to know that I don’t have to keep all of the plates spinning, that I have friends who will come along and give one a spin if it starts to wobble. Better? When a plate falls they’ll be there to help me clean it up, help me to realize that I’m still me without that one. I want my littles to know this, now and as they interact more with the wider world.

This morning I went back and forth with a few friends, it’s funny how much we all struggle the same as mommas. Same frustrations over kids not listening and then our own yelling. Same doubt; whether over a mom we feel does this gig better than us or if our schooling choice is the right one. Same worry; sometimes our kids are hard to understand or we don’t feel like we’re good enough to parent them. This is normal, I have these conversations often. More than these though, in this circle of mine we go deep.

There have been conversations over death. Broken hearts and broken marriages. Sickness. Jobs lost and gained. Our inability to do this SAHM life for one more minute without a change….More even than this these women don’t just talk about these things together we have silently made the pact that we will walk these struggles together. We will be there when the times are good and when they really couldn’t get much worse.

I suppose all that I am really saying here is “Thank you.”.

And so I will take a moment and a paragraph of your time to thank the women who have accepted me in spite of all of my flaws.

Friends, this group is something I have prayed for since I was in my early twenties. I have wanted to have friends who felt like sisters since I moved away from my actual sisters. Thank you for welcoming me in and making me one of yours. Thank you for bringing out the best in me over and over again. Thank you for listening to my worry, for talking through schooling options and sensory concerns and hearing me when the anxiety has gotten the best of my heart. Thank you for opening up your homes and your hearts and for sharing your deepest, truest selves. I love you all and I am so thankful to have you to do this life with. Thank you for never letting me feel judged in any way. I was once afraid to share details of my previous life, I know now that there is very little I could do or say to cause you women to leave my side. You are a blessing to me, a gift, an anchor when the seas get high. Thank you seems not enough, but it is what I have, and so I will say it again, “Thank you”.

If you do not have a group of women who welcome you into safe, uplifting, life-giving relationships please let me know. I will pray with you over your circle, you are not meant to walk this life alone. If you’re in my circle and you don’t feel this way, please reach out. I want little more than for you to know the peace and joy that is this type of friendship.

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One Good Day

Today was a good day. It was actually one of an overwhelming many. This Summer has been blissful. We have gone places I haven’t been in twenty years (am I old enough to say that? What the hell happened?!). We have gone places I’ve never been. It has been a season of awesome and I am in love with it.

I know that I’ve been MIA lately. I haven’t really known what I want to share and what I want to let soak in deep. I deliberately haven’t kept my phone on this Summer because I wanted so badly to just “be” with my people in the moments. I’ve questioned that a few different times, but mostly I’ve really loved not worrying about catching the perfect shot and simply noticing the minuscule details instead. I’ve enjoyed not jumping on Facebook to share something with people who probably don’t care and also probably don’t need anything else to compare their own lives against.

The wandering has gotten deeper and slower and free-er (just go with it) I’d say. Today I took my littles to a state park that we hadn’t yet seen. We ran up and rolled down. We splashed and sloshed. We looked for the tiny things and we were repeatedly rewarded.

As I watched my three littles run on ahead of me I was struck by how much this is life. I walked, at different times today, holding the hand of each of these children. Each one walked beside me, held my attention and my gaze for a few moments at a time. All three though, took off boldly over rises, darted down steep hills, ran ahead on smooth, grassy paths.

That’s what we do as mommas, isn’t it? Hold their hands for just a little while…mine become more independent by the day. Then they run off, unafraid of the world, certain that they can take on anything that comes their way. Running back from time to time for a squeeze or to show off a treasure. Needing to be picked up once or twice as they stumble over roots and their own feet. Mostly just moving, climbing, leaning, looking ever forward.

I want this for them. As they grow and change I want them to deeply know that they’ve the ability to do all of the things. That I’ll be here when they mess up, with a tight hug but not with harsh judgement. To trust that I will still pick them up, brush off the dirt, dry their eyes and send them onward into the big world. Know that I will be genuinely excited over the things they bring back to me, the rocks, the sticks- that-become-wands will change I’m sure. Morph into complexities I can’t yet foretell. I will always want to see, always share the wonder.

They will do more than I can do in this life. They will do it better. This makes me cry a little to know that it’s true, but…to know that they’ll be their truest selves so much sooner than I was, to know that because of my own wildness they’ll be stronger, smarter, more real…well, it gives a Momma peace about her own small space to fill.

It helps me to stay quiet for now too. Storing up these treasures in my heart like Mary did (Luke 2:19). Today I am full of peace and I am so very grateful to be here.

Change of Pace

This afternoon, my sweet husband left with our little guy to enjoy an overnight at Bible camp. This makes me thrilled beyond belief because they don’t get much time alone together. The experience of sleep-away camp is one I want for my littles, but I worried about this kid. I didn’t want him to be frightened and end up hating camp completely because it is so far outside of his comfort zone. A night at camp with Dad there too seems like a perfect fit. I also secretly hope that the time spent in nature with a specific Bible focus, will help both my husband and my son reconnect with God.

I realize this is a tall order for twenty-four hours worth of time.

As I went about my afternoon I noticed that I was doing things differently. It took a little while to figure out exactly what was going on, but as I look back over the day now I see how many things I modified simply because I only had a tiny to look after. Isn’t that strange? Normally I mother from about 5:45 A.M. until roughly 9:00 P.M., sure there are a few opportunities for quiet or for rest in there, but mostly it’s keeping little people alive and helping them grow into good people all day long. Today when I put my girl down for her nap I rested my head next to hers for a full thirty minutes. Then I snuck out the bedroom door to finish a little gardening that I really couldn’t overlook any longer.

I watered. I picked beans. I watched the bees bumble about. I read my book on the deck in the sunshine. The biggest difference from my normal was the silence. I didn’t talk to anyone for her entire two hour nap. As a momma to talkative children this quiet is extremely rare, so rare in fact that I seek it out and ask for opportunities to steal it. More than just the quiet though I found myself unconcerned. Of course I always pray over the safety and well-being of my people, but today I did not need worry over what I would feed them for dinner. I didn’t care at all what time it was all afternoon; I simply had no schedule. When the teeny woke, we had a scoop of ice cream and played ponies for quite some time. She took her silly self into the pool and I watched her dunk herself under for the first time. We read thirty-seven stories and she fed the dog.

 

Our oldest child -who is really an adult- came home at some point late in the day and I directed him to the leftovers in the fridge. And you know what? He ate them. He didn’t die because I made him warm up his dinner, he didn’t even complain! Who knew!? After books we went back outside with a pb&j to share. My tiny girl and I walked barefoot around the yard stopping to pick, and eat, all of the berries we found. We admired my hard work in the garden as well as the echinacea which is taller than my toddler this year. This took the better part of an hour and when we went back up the steps to the house she told me she was ready for bedtime.

Those words are rarely spoken in honesty.

After I finally got her settled, because, really, this girl still wasn’t easy to get to sleep, I was thinking about the pace of my afternoon and how I know this is what I am continually striving for. Everything simply flowed together from one activity to the next.

Normal-Me was jealous of Today-Me.

As I was thinking over what was different, I stopped, I mean; glaringly obvious; I only had one child to manage and give snuggles to. There was no fighting or attention seeking because this girl got nearly all of me. I also had no other adults to consider in my timeline for the day, no husband, no grown kids (nearly). I didn’t worry about what time I should have the house basically put back together or what random things from my fridge I’d throw together to make dinner last minute after secretly hoping dinner would just appear on the stove at 6:30. I didn’t rush through bedtime stories for the teeny to get her to bed so that I could then read aloud to the littles and then put them to bed with the hope that my hard-working husband might still be awake so that we could have eight minutes of uninterrupted, adult conversation before bed.

What I’m saying here is that the pace was totally different.

I’d love to know if there is a way to live this…steadily?… when all of the people that I love are home and doing their lives all around me. What would have to change? I’ve tried to do the casual dinner in the Summer, last year that worked pretty well. This year with a college football player and a ten-year-old girl who eats like a college football player in the house I can’t just put out a veggie tray and a plate of meat and cheese and call it good. They need a lot more food than that. I’ve done the meal planning and it has worked really well for me for, like, eight years. Not so much this Summer. It’s not that I’ve fallen off the planning wagon so much as that I don’t want to make, or really even eat, any of the things that I normally make. New recipes have helped a little, but not enough to motivate me to cook when the weather is hot and the sun is shining.

I realize, of course, that in having a large family I will have to look at more than just dinner time if I want to change the pace of our days. I have kids who want to be very busy, as well as kids who would happily stay home most days. We won’t be able to balance that out, what we need to do is find balance within the flux, peace within the chaos…I think. I don’t quite know how I’m going to do that, but I think that I must try. In knowing that the solution of loading life into the RV and driving away is not imminently on the horizon, I must find a way of balancing myself inside of the busy, not losing my sh*t when I’m pulled in several different directions at one time. This is going to take some work.

There are activities that I have loved, that I am considering tabling for the upcoming season. There are new opportunities that encompass more of a family learning environment that I am thinking about adding in. I have other ideas as well, I may assign each of my kids a night to cook, or I may entrust more of the household tasks to them. Something I have realized through camping, is that my ten and seven-year-olds are begging for more independence and opportunities to earn trust, this desire for a smoother day may be just the push we need to make those leaps.

I’ve also been reading and learning more about the value of independent, unstructured, outdoor play for my children. I think that more fully understanding this piece of the puzzle will, eventually, unlock windows of time for each of us to do the things that cause us joy. For now I trust that we are heading down the right path with this idea, I’ve made only small changes and have noticed fewer meltdowns from my tiny. Realistically, if that were the only benefit, I’d still be all-in. Going outside more often and more consciously, has helped me remember that I really want to be outside, why am inside anyway? It’s Summer!

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Tomorrow will start early, and I fear it will be a full-of-emotion day. There will be more children, more activities, just more expected of and from me. I’m going to work on maintaining my natural rhythm though, not running ahead, or dragging along. I’m going to be more present in the moments that I am given to care for my family, and while that is an ofttimes exhausting place to be I really can trust that each moment can only hold so much. Letting go of some of the crazy is probably a good place to start.

 

 

 

 

Throwing Sand

So there’s this kid in the sandbox with my kids right now. He’s chucking sand all over the place. His mother has come by to yell at him several times, but he keeps on. I don’t really care. My kids have voices to tell the kid to stop if they don’t like it and feet to walk away if he won’t stop. Here’s what I’m wondering; why do we tell them to stop?

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There is always a parent telling a child “don’t throw sand!”, “don’t splash in the pool!”, “don’t climb up the slide!!”. Why? Why can’t they do those things? There are opportunities to teach respect here. If someone wants to come down the slide, make way for them. Wearing new tennies? Take them off before you stomp in the mud for heavens sake! Don’t throw sand at other people-especially if they ask you not to. It’s the unthought-out “don’t…” that gets me.

Do we even have a reason? It seems like some momma somewhere in 1972 uttered these statements and we’ve all latched on to them. How many of us actually care if our kids run up the slide? Who decided that slides were only for going down? Maybe they’re actually ramps for going up? Why do the parents get to say? Didn’t we all do these same things as kids?

Or at least, didn’t we want to?

I think I might go tell that kids mom that it’s okay. If my people take issue, they know how to handle it. Let’s just let the kids be already.

I wonder how many unnecessary boundaries we’re building for these kids. I wonder how all of our “no’s” and “don’t do that’s” negatively affect these kids. By telling them no all of the time are we teaching them that they can’t do things? Or that they can’t do things by themselves? By limiting a slides purpose are we narrowing their creative minds? I catch myself a lot. I use “does that feel safe to you?” now, instead of a frantically shouted, “don’t climb so high!!”

We were walking together the other evening and my husband told our kids to stay out of the muddy puddles. I giggled to myself because I’d been thinking so much about the “NO!”. I could understand that he didn’t want them to get muddy because we’re living in our camper and it’s new and he doesn’t want it to be destroyed. To be fair, these are realistic concerns, my littles and I wreck stuff, we just do. It’s in our nature it would seem. Through our experiences and our play and our learning; things just break. His concern over muddy feet is justified.

I mentioned that we have a hose and can rinse the people before we let them in. While he may have still felt that they should stay out of the mud, he did relax about it and was playing along with them.

At the lake with friends recently, someone threw a handful of soppy-wet sand at my teeny. She didn’t like it at all. I almost told the kid to stop throwing sand, but I caught myself. Instead I asked if she was okay and helped her tell the boy that she didn’t want sand thrown at her. Then the two of them sat and tossed handfuls of sand into the water for several minutes laughing happily together. She might have missed out on the fun if I had simply yelled at the boy.

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I am working on giving these kids more independence, more freedom. It’s one of my biggest learning goals for them this Summer. I want them to trust that they can do stuff-hard stuff. Biking without training wheels, talking with the lady at the counter to check out the paddle-boats without mom, telling that kid that you were next…by doing these things that end in fun I can see that they are learning to trust their abilities. They are learning that they really are able.

With luck, and some effort, these people will go into their Autumn activities a bit more confident. They will trust that they can do some of the more difficult math problems, spell longer words, read thicker books! Because they take these months to practice out there in real life-without me constantly telling them “NO!!”-I think they’ll have bigger successes.

I ended up not talking to that mom, she walked away though. She went over to make some lunch and our kids played together for half of an hour or more. No one got sand in their eyes, no one cried. After a little while they took their bodies over to the monkey bars and worked together to get across. It was hard, they had to use team-work, and be patient. It was fun and they were learning, and we didn’t even break anything!

 

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Little Adventures

Some days you’re living the dream. Other days are less so. I’d be hard pressed to put a label on today. Five days in to our Alexandria, MN trip and we are starting to figure some things out. For example we actually did school the last two days, and it went pretty well. Sleeping is wonky, but then, it’s that at home too.

After school, the littles and I loaded up and went into Alexandria. We were planning on finding a swimming beach-I was sure we had passed one yesterday-and having a picnic. We never found the beach, but did have a great time while we were out.

We found a quiet county park for our picnic…

….and stumbled across these gorgeous Greater-Yellow Lady-Slippers near Brophy Lake.

We came home and I thought we’d be able to swim in the pool at least, but the dog wouldn’t stop barking and the rules of the pool were inflexible. My tiny was tired and cranky, stretching her meltdowns to surpass her personal best.

My littles really are amazing, they rolled with the inconveniences as best they could and still managed a pretty full and fun afternoon. My teeny though, she’s spent. This week has been a lot too much for her I think. I know she’ll fall into a routine, I just wish it would happen soon. As I was typing this, she crawled into my lap, pulled her favorite blanket across us and promptly fell asleep.

It’s a pretty cozy spot, so I’m not complaining. Sure, I wish it would have happened three hours earlier, but I’m really working on rolling with whatever comes.

I did have a lot of complaints from today, I listed them all off and sent them over to my sweet, hard-working husband. I know that when I do that he feels stuck, unable to help because he’s not here. Sometimes I just need to spill it all out, I wish I had another way to deal with it. I wish there was some way for me to move past the frustration without venting it to him. A lot of the time I just need someone else to hear me, to know that I’m here, that I’m struggling. Usually that’s enough.

Tomorrow is a new day. We are thinking of heading all the way back to a friends house for a day of playing outside. That will definitely help my momma sanity. We’ll also be able to drop our doggy off at home to relax in her crate. I could use a little time to not have her leash in hand, time to let my littles run wild with friends, time to talk with my own friends. It’s always good to do something familiar when you’re feeling stretched thin. I’m looking forward to some normal activity.

Sitting in my camper with my Bible, my journal, my cuppa; these things comfort me and give me a little bit of peace in our new environment. Hopefully I’ll be able to hold on to these things tomorrow and the day after that, because part of this path I’m on is supposed to be a greater sense of quiet. Right now I’m in that place, snuggled in close with this teeny girl. I’ll not rush myself along to the next thing, rather I’ll sit with her under a blankie, listening to her breathe softly. Seeing the quiet that was carved out just for me.

 

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What Next?

The last few days have been kinda intense around here. See, we’re loading up to haul our lives out of here for a few weeks. We bought a camper recently and have the opportunity to try out the “living in it” thing over the next month. That’s only one small piece of the crazy that has been our day to day though.

On Saturday our oldest daughter graduated from high school. This kid is awesome, she has a skill set that I never will possess. I truly am hopeful that she’ll use it for good, because if she does? This kid’ll make people think, she’ll make them question what they know to be true and she’ll probably do it wearing super fancy shoes (wink wink). This was a life event that we have waited for and wondered about and tried not to worry over for years. It’s great that she did it, but we all find ourselves asking; “so…now what?”.

On top of running away in our camper, and setting a girl off on her adult path, our oldest son is moving back in for a few months. We had suspicions that he would be home this Summer, but it was a surprise when he actually called and said he’d be bringing boxes by over the weekend. I left him with a nearly empty fridge and an Aldi gift card …maybe if I’d had more than a day to prep I could’ve done better…maybe. Hopefully he’ll be alright, I mean, he’s been living “on his own” for a couple of years now, he should be good, right?

I read a post today which talked about how abnormal life paths are celebrated-once they have succeeded, but sanity is questioned when a person actually sets out on something counter-cultural. When I read it I felt as if someone on the outside understood a tiny piece of what I feel inside. I was thinking about it in the truck today though, and I wondered about my graduated girl. Am I showing her that it’s okay to not do what everyone else does? Does she know we’ve got her back if she does some wild, crazy, insane thing and fails spectacularly? How do you tell a kid that? How do you live your own life as an example of that?

When you choose to do something different, some people will judge you harshly, but quietly. A few will live vicariously through you. Some will look at you with a blank stare and say; “I’m sorry. You want to what?!?”. So far I’m okay with that, I wonder if I helped build a girl who would be able to deal with those kinds of looks, those kinds of questioning glares. As I think about that this morning, I realize that it probably isn’t just my responsibility to do that for her. Optimistically I laid a foundation. Hopefully she has other people in her life who would be willing to show her a little of their own wild dreams so that she knows that there are those who are (nearly) as wacky as me. So she sees that it is a good thing. I know that my own life experiences created me, and that she will have vastly different experiences, but I pray what she goes through shapes her into someone who is not afraid to do what she loves or what is in her deepest heart. There is little control for me to grab at in this stage of her life, it’s all on her.

While I am a little afraid of what she will have to go through to become the woman she wants to be, I am proud already, of the woman she is. I’m sure that by knowing my own crazy, she will see some tiny piece of her own path and be better able to follow it. How much more so will living my one wild life affect my littles? Will they start following their hearts freely all the more? Will they choose something more steady for themselves as they grow? As always, it is impossible to know what will come. I’m really excited to see where each of them will go, what they will do, how they will succeed.

So we’ve started out. We’ve latched on to a small piece of crazy and we are trying to live there. I have realistic expectations, I don’t anticipate all of the day to day getting much easier. There will be different challenges and new opportunities for us to grow. Some things will be harder, there may be one or two that are easier, but I know uprooting people is never easy. I’ll take the successes that come. I’ll be grateful for the little things. I’ll watch for the moments where we learn something hard.

As the sun rises on this day I am simply thankful to be out here. Following the dreams and plans my heart has hoped for. Hoping now that the people I love can understand-at least a little bit-why we are where we’re at. What’s next? Who knows?! I think I’ll start with a cup of coffee and let my heart wander a bit.

 

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Interruption

On a recent Sunday in my home I had wanted to spend an afternoon tucked into a book that was already overdue and causing me fines. My littles have, in my opinion, enough activities, toys, games, and project pieces to keep themselves busy. I was so certain that they could play for a couple of hours together. I was wrong. Nearly all of the time I had set aside to read was filled with complaints of boredom, requests for snacks, and “Momma! I neeeeed youuu!”. I was sad. I was frustrated. I was annoyed at being interrupted.

Similar days and hours have unfolded more times than I can count and I’ve been feeling convicted lately. Honestly there has been a lot of conviction in my heart recently and I’ve been repeatedly humbled. When I look at all of the ways I feel that I am failing or struggling or growing it is a little overwhelming and so I tried to prioritize all of the things. It looked a little like this;

  1. stop yelling
  2. practice kindness to myself, my husband, my children…
  3. go outside-f**k the cold
  4. endure patiently the difficulties of mothering
  5. speak the way I want to be spoken to
  6. care for those (outside my home) who are in need
  7. focus more time on God

This is only a fraction of the list. I saw that in the making of the list I really wasn’t practicing much kindness toward myself. So I decided to start there. There …and with my children. I realized that I was seeing them as an interruption. I didn’t really like that, but I also really wanted to do things. I felt that they very deliberately stole my time and I knew that two things were happening. First I was allowing it. I was almost helping them to steal my time. I was letting them interrupt repeatedly, I was assisting them with many things that they could do themselves, I was letting them use me for things they should learn to handle on their own. That wasn’t fair to them. I was not helping them grow by doing all of their chores or always telling them where their things were or repeating my requests of them twenty times when they couldn’t remember (or weren’t listening to) my instructions for them.

Secondly I became aware that my children are not an interruption. Like, really, they aren’t. I chose them didn’t I? I chose to carry them and birth them, and stay home with them. Together with my husband, I have chosen to homeschool them and lead them toward God. I have chosen to be gentle with them because more than much else? That is what my very heart needs. Gentleness. I’ll admit, I did make a lot of these choices pretty ignorantly. I really had no idea what mothering constantly would be like, but God has placed me here and I know that is not a mistake.

Just knowing was not enough, I still felt somehow cheated. I was giving up a couple hours of sleep each day to etch out a tiny piece of myself in the world with my writing and my seeking after God. I felt like I deserved that time. It has been all but taken from me by a teeny who will not sleep, daylight savings time, and a heart that has been particularly achy and over-full the past few weeks. I felt like all of the things my kids needed or wanted from me were too much. I caught myself one day actually speaking the words; “you’re just asking too much of momma right now…” to a little child who surely had no idea why their needs were more than I could handle.

This begs the question, when all of life is too much, why do I first stop giving to those I most love? Why do I feel beholden to volunteer commitments? Why must I attend all of the classes, activities, and outings that currently cram our schedule? Why do I continue to mostly say yes to everyone else only to shout “NO!” to my dearest ones?

The fear of failure, I think.

I’m pretty sure that’s it for me anyway. If I hold it all together in my obligations the rest of the world continues to turn. No one knows that I’m falling apart inside. My kids will forgive me a few crazy-mom moments…right? How about a lot of crazy-mom moments?

All of this has been spinning around my brain along with my deep sadness the past few weeks. I reached out to a friend for help to stop the yelling and I start over every day. I know that I am getting closer to a full day of softly-spoken words. I talked to my sweet husband about things that were important to our family and about something that was important to my heart. Doing those two small things helped me lay down an immense amount of the burden I was carrying. It really came to me quite suddenly while I was surrounded by friends, barely holding myself together last week. I hadn’t washed my hair, I had barely slept, my heart felt shattered, my kids did not want to stay home. I had been able to give myself the grace I needed that morning, but just barely enough to get me into my car.

I had avoided eye-contact most of the visit, making mindless small talk or just listening as others talked. I’ll spare you the rest of the drama, and simply say that I felt the cracks forming. For no extra-horrific reason, just all of the weight that was piled on over most of my life had finally done it’s work in causing the fracture lines to form in me. I was dangerously close to breaking. I looked over at one of my children as she played wild with her friends and I knew in that instant that she was not an interruption. She was my very reason for being here and doing better each day. All of my children, why hadn’t I seen it before? That list I had written out? All of those connected back to one thing; that I have a purpose and it is a great one. I get to spend my day with these kids, leading them to be less broken adults than I ended up being. I realized in that look that I was failing at my purpose because I saw my purpose as an interruption to my day. None of the other things mattered until I could do the most important thing well.

So now I have decided to “fix” that, and that alone. All of those things I had on my list will come together, I think, if I stop seeing my purpose as a distraction. Can I still write? I think so, I might have to listen more to the opportunities as they present themselves though. Because, let face it, I’m not sleeping through the night consistently anytime soon. Can I still spend an afternoon reading? Probably not without significant bribes! I can, however, steal an hour or a chapter or two when they pick up their own books. While I haven’t yet figured out how to have a grown up conversation with my sweet husband without a million breaks in conversation to handle kid’s requests, it is important to me and so I will figure it out.

Somehow I just know that by seeing my kids as my priority (after God, my husband, and myself) I will be fulfilling my purpose. All of the other things will come together as this one thing becomes most important. Not the outside activities, not the others who press for my time and attention. I am struggling with it. In fact I am writing right now because I yelled at my kids when three of them were all pushing as hard as they could at the very same time. I lost it, I needed some time and I needed to remind myself of the goal. Now, to start over again….