My son is having a rough day. There is a loudness, a faster pace, an invitation to impulse that has swirled around him for days. Today in particular, has been a challenge. We are fresh off of that one last summer vacation which ended mid week and launched us back into the “school is starting next week”, hustle. I am tired. My kids are tired. I am constantly running through my to do list in my mind. Backpacks, check. School supplies, check. Lunch boxes, (the ones I so efficiently bought on clearance last year) still missing.
Today, my own edges feel unraveled. I am convinced it is from the constant rope pull with my little. The struggle to keep him from crossing the line that he has been dancing across all day. Then I think of how my own voice has been raised today. How my own invite to impulse has tempted me to react vs reconnect. Cue the mom guilt, OH THE MOM GUILT. The one that tells you if you were better organized you would know where those lunch boxes were stored. The one that reminds you how far from perfect you are. The voice that keeps shouting all those to do list items over the pleading of your own heart to stop and really listen to what is most important.
Nearing the top of that to do list today is a blog post I haven’t began. A writing sharing my 23 years of parenting expertise with you. My journey with my children has seen me all the way through school into young adulthood and then back again with 2 more littles. I know a thing or two about preparing for this changing of season. About getting the kids back into schedule and finding our way through the chaos.
If you looked through my highlight reel on social media, you would find pictures of labeled school supplies that were ready many weeks ago. In a few days I will likely share breakfast pictures of pancakes perfectly made into the numbers of the grades my kids are entering, and first day of school pics in their brand new outfits.
What I don’t show is the out takes. The dozens of pictures of my kids squinting in the sun asking if we are done yet. The hustle to hurry up and get in the car before we are late. The pancakes that were scraped out of the pan before getting it right. But here today, is exactly that. All of the scrapings. All of the mess. Because this is what God has given me 23 years of and this is what HE pulls me near to share. While I am sure God loves a good pancake or two, I know HE has no interest in my perfection, nor my need for my family to be polished in any way. HE calls me to this time flawed and unraveled, raw with the briskness of a new season setting in.
And so I share with you…this time of change is messy. It takes loads of out takes (and unfolded laundry). It takes meltdowns and mishaps, lost paperwork and long days. It takes grit and courage to swing into a new season and no one, NO ONE gets it right. We do not cross through this passage without the frayed edges and worn fabric of our heartstrings. Fortunately, we also do not pass into it untethered. I know that for all the times I get it wrong, there is a savior who knows my heart, working hard in my favor to make it right. He looks into this worn soul and pulls all of the line back in, close to HIM.
Right here, in the middle of the mess, I can also begin to pull in the line. I pull my son in closer and softer. I see through my daughter’s eyes, this morning’s meltdown as I find her on her knees next to her dresser, hot tears flowing over what outfit she should choose. It is not about the clothes. She needs to hear she is good enough for this next season. She needs to know she is worthy, she is strong, she is safe. I need to know those things too. At the absolute heart of what my children need from me to prepare them for change is HIM.
I can share with you dozens of tips and tricks I have learned over the years to get ready for school but at the end of the day, they are just that and not one of them will give your family what they really need. Hear these words sweet friend and let them sift through to those uncertain places. You are good enough, burned pancakes and all. You are worthy. You are strong. You are safely tucked into the palm of His hands, wrapped in all His goodness. THIS is how you prepare your children to go out into a new season. You remind yourself who holds the line, you take a deep breath, you tell them it is okay to feel what they feel. You tell them that you get anxious and nervous too. You remind them there is absolutely nothing they can do to mess up God’s perfect plan for this year. Then you gently reel them back in, just as he has first done for you.
He has a plan for this season and it is good. If we spend all our energy trying to avoid the messy places of the journey, we miss the moments He gives us to prepare our own hearts and theirs.
We have a tradition in our house for back to school and it is one of my favorite things ever. Before they leave our door, I draw a small heart in the palm of their hand. It is small and unassuming but has big meaning. When they are feeling anxious, they can look at that heart and know that they have a maker who holds their heart in his hands. God’s got this. They can also know that they are so loved by their mama. It seems to be just enough to hold them over until pick up time and I am reminded the same as I catch glances of my own hand working through my day. What greater feeling than to remember who’s we are and how much they love us.
I don’t know today where those lunchboxes are. I have unfolded laundry and many things left to do that will probably go unfinished. What I do know is that my children will leave through my doors with as much love and reassurance as their little hearts can hold. I will take them for their first day of school, then I will get in my car and ugly cry, because He too has given me all the love and reassurance my heart can hold. Then I will count the hours until I get to hear how amazing their first days were. We will recount the wins in their day, the new friends and old. I will ask them how they looked for ways to shine light into someone else’s day. We will talk about those times they needed to look into their hand for courage and comfort and I will spend my time reeling in the line, one story at a time.