Spring is my favorite season. A time to get outside after all those short, gray days of winter. I love Easter and budding flowers and opening my windows wide and days in the outdoors and spending weekends at the ballpark.
But with Spring comes a lot of anxiety too. Spring is our busy season. Baseball and soccer and basketball and end of school activities all seem to add up and with Dan almost always busy at work, most days we’re left treading water and barely keeping our noses afloat.
It happens every year.
And every year I’m left wondering why? How did we get here? Are we even headed in the right direction?
There are so many choices. So many opportunities. So many wonderful things to enjoy and experience. And as parents we want to give our kids everything!! We want them to experience the world. We feel it is our job to provide every possible opportunity for success…whatever that really means.
So we push. We cram. We overload.
The possibilities are endless.
A private school education. Competition sports. Learning to ski. Trips to the zoo or museum. Hiking spots and camping trips. Vacations so they can see the world. A dog to walk and care for. Clothes and gear. Toys and technology.
And maybe they should be in Boy Scouts?? Maybe they should be in the church youth group?? Maybe they should each play a musical instrument or do choir?? Are we doing enough volunteering as a family?? And maybe I should be back at work putting Luke and Lizzy in daycare so we can afford it all???
Is it ever enough???
Isn’t it all too much???
I guess I should be grateful these are my ‘problems’ (what first world problems!) but sometimes I feel like my head is spinning atop my shoulders and I get dizzy and panicky and nauseated and just want to scream out STOP!! We cannot continue at this frenetic pace! We cannot spend any more money!! We cannot possibly load on another activity for any member of this family!! Can we all just stop?!!
I know I’m not the only one who does this. And I know I’m not the only one who wants to run away screaming!!
I’ve decided it all comes down to fear.
We are all so afraid our children will fall behind. Or won’t measure up. Or won’t be successful and therefore happy in life. We hope that by having some tangible measure like ‘top of the class’ or ‘best on the team’ for our child we’ll have reassurance that we are good parents. When we see them happy and ‘succeeding’ we imagine for a moment that we’re getting this whole thing right. That these children we love with ALL OUR HEARTS will end up okay…and then we can exhale and feel okay too. We’ve been holding our breath for far too long!
I hate to think about it…but I wonder how our children feel?? Do they need to ‘perform’ well to feel loved? To feel worthy? I hope not. This is certainly not the message I want to give to my children!
Can we all just simmer down? And slow down a bit? And say NO? And let go?
I’m not very good at jigsaw puzzles. I get frustrated trying to fit the pieces together and am continuously looking at the box to see the bigger picture and where each piece is supposed to fit. I can’t help but think that someday all these pieces of my life, all the little bits I worry about, each child, our family life, will magically fit together.
The right school, the right friends, the right sports, the right activities, the right balance of working and home…one day when I’m old and gray I’ll look back and see how all the pieces, all the struggles, all the seasons of life fit together to create the completed scene.
Oh now I see it. That’s how it was supposed to go. It all fits. What a beautiful picture. What a beautiful life.
I just wish God would give me a little glimpse of the front of the box. Maybe then I could relax. Maybe then I could just enjoy. Somehow knowing it is all going to fit. That it will be beautiful! That it IS beautiful!
I guess what I’m talking about here is faith. I’m working on my faith. On prayer. On my trust in God to work these things out. On every day relaxing my grip. On letting go of all the puzzle pieces I clutch so tightly…hoping to figure out where each one fits. Because for the most part I have some influence but, the truth is, the ‘success’ of my kids and our family is so very much out of my control.
Today I took the little kids for a walk. It was a sunny, chilly Spring morning after a day of rain. There were a few puddles and so many worms and just the BEST smell in the air. Luke rode ahead on his little bike and I pushed Lizzy along in that noisy red car with the blue handle. We stopped periodically to poke at the dried-up worms or bark back at the dogs or point out an airplane overhead. We raced one another down the path and they screamed and laughed. Luke found a few leaves and carried a big long stick and poked at what we think was some dog poop (or puke? Either way…gross). And in the middle of this wonderful, perfect, simple little moment on the trail with my two babies my eyes filled up with tears and I was overcome with gratitude.
Three years ago I pushed Luke along this same trail with James riding up ahead on his bike. And I remember wondering if perhaps we should have a fifth child. Just one more? And I remember thinking how then one day I would push that little baby in the car while Luke rode up ahead. And maybe it would be a girl? Maybe I’d push a blond little Lizzy in that noisy red car while Luke screamed and hollered on his bike up ahead???
And today, there I was.
It all fits.
What a beautiful picture…what a beautiful life.
Maybe I don’t have to push so hard. Maybe we don’t have to do it all. Maybe I don’t have to worry so much. Maybe I can stop strategically arranging and striving to find just the right school and just the right team and just the right everything for each of my kids and our family.
Maybe as sports ramp up this Spring I can remember to pack a picnic and a blanket for dinner al fresco at the ballpark or be grateful for a few extra afternoons pushing my babies on the swings while the big boys practice or stop to notice how Eli moves EXACTLY like his Dad did on the soccer field or how adorable my freckle-faced James looks in a baseball cap.
I can somehow slow the pace right in the middle of our whirlwind life!!
And I can pray.
For He knows the desires of my heart. He knows what things I need before I ever ask Him.
Maybe God has it all worked out anyway and I should just watch as this beautiful life unfolds right before my eyes.
I wonder what would happen if I put down the puzzle pieces I’m clutching today???
If I let go???