I dropped my son off at school last week, and I sat in the car lineup and watched as each kid before us got out, with a large bouquet of flowers. Every single kid.
“Luke? Why do kids have flowers?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I guess I missed something.”
Then it dawned on me. The May Crowning! They are crowning Mary! Until it dawned on me again … my kids go to public school. They were so not crowning Mary.
Teacher Appreciation Day. I missed it.
I miss a lot. Muffins for Moms? Missed it. Middle School Orientation? I missed it. The school bus yesterday? We missed it. The cat? Missing. Writing deadline? Oops, missed it.
Save me Lord, I’m drowning …
Three e mail accounts. Four kids. Two jobs. Lots of water glasses. Many plates. Eight piles of dirty laundry. Too many bills to count. Many pets … although we are unfortunately down one. And all with just one car, unless you count the Jeep that only drives forward. So yes. Because I have a lot, I miss a lot.
Multiply my hours, Lord, and lessen the mess.
I am certain I did not purchase a yearbook for each of my children, and I am pretty sure I missed the field-trip permission slip, and it appears we are late on securing campus housing for the Fall semester. Fall is not even here yet, and I have already fallen behind. Maybe that is why it is called fall?
Come Holy Spirit … I have fallen and I need something to hold onto.
And I am sort of sick of this; feeling overwhelmed, like a can’t possibly keep up, under water and drowning. This is not what God intended for me, is it? I can’t imagine this is how he wants mothers to live, can you? Rundown, feeling stretched to the limit, burnt out, always behind? I can’t imagine He wants my kid to be the one who forgot the flowers, who didn’t get a yearbook, who missed the field trip, or who has to live in a tent behind the school bookstore.
What is your plan for me, Lord? Because none of this feels good.
What is your plan for my children, Lord? Because I fear I am lacking …
And I suppose I can just stop it all. I don’t have to work (although the pile of unpaid bills is kind of daunting). And I don’t have to have so many email accounts. (Why so many emails, anyway? How did our parents ever survive without email? And yet … they did!) And I can get rid of the pets. (Yeah, right. That would go over well.) I mean, I am sure someone would listen to my venting and say, “hey, you chose this lifestyle. You rescued those pets, and you had those kids, and you took those jobs, and just open your stinking emails!” And they would be right.
And as I write this I am in perfect view of my hanging picture of Mary … with a sword pierced through her heart. I get you, girl. I so get you. Because let’s be honest. This is about Motherhood. This is about my feeling like I cannot mother the way I want to because I have all the things to do, that I am forgetting to do! All the things I say yes to you as opposed to Mary’s one great fiat. And so I am slacking on all the things and I am failing at all the mothering! And Motherhood? Hands down the most beautiful and painful vocation ever. Learning to balance all the things is not easy. Learning to choose wisely and intentionally so that I am sure to not only take care of my family, but myself as well, has clearly not come easily for me. And the irony of it all? The crazy remedy … the only remedy I know of that actually works … the only solution to getting it all done, is to do none of it. To simply step out of it. Walk away. And do nothing.
Nothing, but listen to God.
And it sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it? Surely I will never get to the emails, to the work, to all the things waiting for me, if I walk away. But you know what? I think it is okay. The same laundry I put away today will be dirty tomorrow. And this chaos? This crazy? This feeling of falling and failure because I can not keep up? Restlessness has never been fixed by a clean home. Soul rest has never been fixed by accomplishments. Balance has never been fixed by keeping all balls up in the air at all times.
Only Jesus fixes.
And really, I apologize. I apologize for writing what appears to go nowhere, but I can’t help but think that maybe there is a mom out there at the end of her school-year rope … and maybe she, too, has been trying to find the escape door, a way out. Maybe there is a mom out there with a full plate, who knows something needs to go, but isn’t sure what, and so she continues to pile more on, thinking if she does more she will be more. Maybe there is someone else who feels like there has got to be a better way to live but if it means dropping all the things to sit at His feet and figure it all out, she becomes paralyzed by fear. Maybe there is a mom out there who simply needs permission … who is dying for someone to say … if you walk away, it will all be okay. And if you forgot the flowers, it will still be okay. And if you missed the bus or didn’t pack the lunch or allowed too much screen time because really you just needed a break … it is okay. You do not have to say a mediocre yes to everything. You only need to say one great yes.
Father, your daughters are sinking. Remind them of whose they are. Pull them out of the sea and lead them to rest.
And so I just wanted you to know that if this is you … tired and worn and sitting in a mess of a house or a relationship because you have too many other things to tend to … today, I am walking away. I am stepping out of the mess. I am coming up for air. I am handing Jesus all the things and holding on to my one yes. Feel free to join me.
And I think I will celebrate this intentional start to a more peaceful way to mother and live, by buying a bouquet of flowers with my child … and crowning Mary.
Mary, sweet Mother, lead me to your Son … and tell him, please, to fix all the things.
Copyright 2018 Laura Mary Phelps