On Friday night the Eldest hurtles into the house, telling me how very excited she is that it’s the weekend. How come? I wonder, worrying that I’ve maybe promised an activity and forgotten about it!
Nope. She just can’t wait for her ‘day off’ and has an actual list of things she can’t wait to do with it. Drawing, painting, singing and riding my bike feature, and I watch in awe today as she systematically works through them all and ticks them off!
If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s that our kids don’t need to be half as busy with extra curricular activities and outings as we think they do! They’re more than capable of entertaining themselves. (From which we could learn alot!)
It’s our turn for online church and this time it is Harvest festival. Originating from a Northern coal-mining colliery myself, all this really makes me think of is taking tin cans into school and singing Cauliflowers Fluffy and Cabbages Green. Husband, however, is from a Vicarage in very rural Cornwall, and so tends to make a bigger fuss over the whole thing. Each to their own!
As it goes, I busy about getting props and things ready with a minute to spare, whilst Husband pulls his hair out over the now-missing items that he prepared and set up three hours ago! During all of this commotion, unnoticed by either of us until it is too late, the Youngest proceeds to climb on top of the kitchen table, pull up her princess dress, squat (I kid you not!) and pee all over Husband’s freshly printed order of service.
No time to clean up or print another as the Live button has already been pressed! So, you know, we go ahead and read from the soggy one… keep calm and carry on, right?!
Honestly, you couldn’t write it.
Another rainy, no plans kind of day. Walk home from school drop-off trying to psyche myself up and ignore the fact that I think I might have just longed to head back into the classroom with them. No place for those kind of thoughts! Toddler insists on ‘walking’ but has a huff when I won’t carry her. You can’t really tell by the picture, but her bottom lip is fully out and her shoulders are dramatically sagged. It really is the cutest kind of sulk! And I kinda feel it too…
Back in the pram and I’m praying now. I have so much to be thankful for! SO MUCH. So why on earth do I feel so depressed and lethargic today?!
I mean, it’s not like I wish I was doing something else instead of home-parenting; not one bit. I love getting to see my young children grow. I think I just miss doing something else as well. Which is interesting. As all of those extra commitments and running about trying to see and serve other people always made me feel guilty! Now, I realise, they were good for me. And consequently, us.
As we draw nearer and nearer home, the lump in my throat gains bouyancy. Is it OK to miss community this much?
Weren’t we created for relationship after all?
Still. Of all the rubbish being dealt with by all of the people in the world right now, I have the least to be sad or worried about. SNAP OUT OF IT!
I ask God for help. What shall we do today?! Approaching the house I see that Husband has hung the kids’ harvest posters up in the window as if they’re evangelical and not actually just a great big bloody mess. (Seriously, I asked The Boy what his red splodge filled banner represented and he said, quote:”a dead girl!” Nice.)
So, I take the massacre down from the window and Toddler and I spend the morning painting and printing leaves; decorating the window with a Psalm about thankfulness instead. (I mean, I’d be more thankful if you could actually read it from the outside, but it was therapeutic all the same!)
In the evening I have a good cry to Husband while awaiting the latest government update. We are still hoping to see his family over half term, but I am growing increasingly anxious about the current law and our choice between breaking it or not seeing them at all. However, it appears that the ‘simplified system’ has actually downgraded us- so we can now legally meet another household in a garden! (Still in groups of six… but to be honest, any lifting of the loneliness is welcome right now!)
It is worth a trip. This feels like a win.
Wake up with an oppressive wave of anxiety, despite going to bed happier. Reflect on timing and wonder if it may be hormonal after all. Still, I can’t lounge there forever and so make a conscious effort to live thankfully today. And it is a good day for it!
Yes! Today, I’m thankful for blue Autumnal skies and the slowly turning leaves. I’m thankful for a hands-on Husband who helps me get the kids dressed and at the door every morning. I’m thankful for kids who scoot to school like they’re in a derby, but still wait so patiently for me when they reach a roadside. Thankful that those same kids- who were punching each other over traffic lights yesterday- have made a game over pressing the buttons in unison today, laughing like it’s the best thing they ever thought of!
Today I’m so so thankful for Ballet class. A place we are both excited to be. People to talk to, a cup of tea… a teacher so good with my toddler that she coaxes her out of another hilariously cute sulk with a ready-prepared Barbie doll. Then allows her to give said Barbie doll a turn at every single dance move for the rest of the lesson- even when it means queuing twice for the equipment! Too cute.
I’m thankful for the energy that comes from a good morning out and positive interaction. For cleaning the kitchen and steaming the wee-soaked carpets, when yesterday the very thought made me dig a hole and slump in it! Thankful for kids who come home from school and want to cook.
Thankful for life and laughter and all of the things some poor woman and her three young children lost in a car accident last night whilst I was busy sulking.
This year, life feels like it has spent a long time standing still. Without wider family, or community or plans to look forward to, even the most full and happy of lives can be drained of energy; the days can drag out and one can fall under the impression that we’re stuck on pause. That we can mope about until it resumes again. But that news article about that poor family in Oxfordshire hit home. Life hasn’t stopped still and we are not on pause. It could all still end any moment. Each day is still a gift, and quite frankly I’d have been embarrassed by my attitude yesterday if suddenly faced with God and asked what I’d made of it!
Wake up thinking about the car accident; see a photograph and shed tears over a woman I never knew, but now identify with so much. A sister in Christ; a writer, a creator, an artist; an intentional mother to three beautiful, happy looking children. Safe with God, but lost on Earth to the poor man and baby they left behind.
If Monday was for sulking and Tuesday was for joy, Wednesday is the kind of thankfulness that grips her children too tightly and ugly-cries into their hair. Give me a hundred lonely, boring Mondays over ever losing these precious ones a day too soon!
And yet… the pandemic.
Still a message from the Grandparents. The government are meeting today to discuss upgrading our lockdown status again, barely two days since it was ever-so-slightly relaxed. Hopes of seeing them recede once more… “we’re so glad we managed to see you for those three days last month at least.”
Aaaargh, how is three days in one year enough?!
In tears yet again, I begin to wonder how the grandparents of this poor car crash family are feeling right now. I wonder how much they got to see of their beloved grandchildren in what should never have been their final year on Earth?
(I also wonder how one can think and feel all of these things and it still only be Wednesday…?!)
There is so much more going on in the world right now than Coronavirus. But still, it dominates everything; even that we hold most dear. It feels almost impossible to not feel sad right now, no matter how much you have to be thankful for in the grand scheme of things.
Reading my Bible-in-a-Year, I search God for something to cling to, and from a burning Bush in the wilderness, He declares to Moses, “I AM who I am.” Later, when the Soldiers come to arrest Jesus, they’re swept to the ground when He says, “I AM He.” And right at the end, by the Revelation of the Holy Spirit, He also declares, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end … I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Only God is constant. Only God is eternal. Only God is steadfast and steady and unchanging. Only God will remain when all else fades. Only God can anchor our souls.
This has never felt so relevant as it does right now. I must, must, must learn to keep my eyes on Him.
The Boy heads to school in trainers after another parental win-slash-fail. He ran up and down some mud banks on the way home from school yesterday and, while I let him do it, I also insisted he wash his own school shoes when we got home. What I didn’t expect, of course, was that he would wash them immediately when we got home- to the point where they were full to the brim of washing up liquid before I’d even got the Youngest out of the pram!
Once deposited in school, the Youngest and I pack a lunch and … escape! Taking full advantage of the current-yet-endangered Tier 2 situation, which now allows garden visits, we head out of town for a picnic with Mrs H. My soul positively sings all the way there and back. Face to face contact with real people, family, friends-who-are-family; autumn colours in the great outdoors … is there anything better for the heart, mind and soul than that?!
Back home, The Boy cuts his face carrying some chopsticks up to his bedroom, (I have NO idea?!) and is largely inconsolable for a good half hour. I eventually manage to entice him out of his melodramatic death scene with a game of Ludo, however, which makes for a very late but very lovely bedtime!
Husband’s day off and today… we are absolutely definitely going OUT!
As another week draws to a close, I feel my building blocks are finally back in place. Autumn is the best time to get outdoors and I’m all caught up on the Bible in a Year. In fact, I’ve taken to listening to Matthew’s Gospel during the day- allowing the words of Jesus to speak audibly louder than all of the negativity accessible to me all day, every day, in the palm of my hand. And thus, I’ve begun to take more conscious control of that too. (Again. Why are these things so addictive?!)
And so finally, suddenly, I feel light enough to look outside of myself. To consider others who may be struggling; to reach out and encourage; to pull my head out of my own backyard! And that begins to feel good.
Until it doesn’t.
Until I have a few conversations with people who have really depressing stuff going on. Until I Facetime my parents because ‘out of sight, out of mind’ isn’t a longterm solution. Until the Prime Minister threatens to take down the Mayor! At which point everything gets a bit swirly and overwhelming and emotional again and I realise that these little strategies aren’t a one-time-fix-all solution, but require constant, ongoing, intentional choices of life.
A bit like this …
Yesterday, Toddler spun herself too hard on a mini roundabout and got really freaked out by the dizziness. She called out and Mrs H, who was right by her, knelt down and said, “it’s ok, just look at me.”
She looked a bit spaced out and wobbly and continued to whimper for a little minute, while Mrs H repeated, “you’re ok, just look at me.”
And it struck me then and more so now, that this is what it feels like to follow God right now! We know He is there and steady and constant, somewhere, and we even cry out for Him to come closer. And yet the world is spinning fast, changing quickly, messing us around; there’s so much going on, we feel sick with it – and yet we can’t stop looking at it all the same!
And yet, through it all… God still softly speaks.
“Fix your eyes on me.”
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4: 18.
Thanks for reading. Peace be with you xx