I’m an OG, Baby

And by OG, I totally mean Organizing Gangsta.

When you have one child in full-day school and another in half-day preschool, the dilemma inevitably arises — how on earth should I spend my time??

On the one hand you can cram every single second with stuff that you never get to do alone — pee, shower, laundry, cleaning, dance around the house, exercise.

But on the other hand you can enjoy what you what you never get to enjoy alone — sit still, watch non-animated television, paint nails that are adult-sized, write, read, dream, think, pray.

And so today — after I dropped my youngest off at preschool — I found myself facing the conundrum head on and worried to death I’d make the wrong decision. (I mean, it’s a precious four hours [not counting 40 minutes total drive time if I do decide to go home and back] and wasting even a minute is tear-inducing.)

And since he’s in preschool four days a week, I realized today that I need to very carefully strategize how to best to utilize these minutes of liquid gold.

So that’s what I did. I strategized today, and I made a plan. And I actually (wait for it) — PUT IT IN WRITING.

(Gasp! Shock! Awe!)

Listen.

I know.

It is absolutely NO SECRET that I’m an anti-organizationally-gifted wife and mother. I’m very shoot-from-the-hip when it comes to meal planning, house cleaning, day-planning and everything else that requires home economical-type things.

But something happened today. I can’t describe exactly what happened when I dropped him off…but suddenly, I had the energy to do everything.

I exercised and them came home and cleaned bathrooms. Then I showered. Then I worked. Then I ate lunch and did laundry. Then I picked him up and we came home and he chilled and watched his new favorite show Paw Patrol while I got iced coffee ready and refrigerated, the kitchen straightened up some more, and laundry switched out.

It was as if that side-heel-clicky-jump thing I did in the parking lot after drop-off elicited magical productive powers.

Just look!

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(Do you see the column for dinner? It’s GENIUS!)

Yes, I realize there are a lot of gaps to fill. Yes, it only goes through Thursday (let’s pace ourselves, shall we? Rome wasn’t built in a day). And yes, I realize this doesn’t include my work-related tasks and how to tackle the beast that is this book I want to finish writing by my 41st birthday just nine months from now (metaphorically mystical music inserted here). And of course, it doesn’t include time to work on the other fabulous project that I’M SO EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE SOON.

But y’all.

For me, this is HUGE. Not only do I have a pseudo-plan for my life days, I’m also getting Jaana onboard the “magically erase your responsibilities away” train. And she loves it! Just look!

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I know what you’re thinking and I’ve already thought it: it’s been ONE. DAY.

Yes, that’s right.

But that one day ROCKED.

And this one day not only rocked, it was highly effective. And if a day to the Lord is like a thousand years, then this productive day of mine is like a thousand productive years to Him.

Which is more productivity than my mind can even handle.

(So I can totally bow out whenever I want and be done and you can’t. say. a. word.)

I promise I’m not going to turn into a home-organizing, meal-planning blogger — they amaze me and leave me speechless and I can’t compete. Plus, it’s just not in me and I couldn’t pull it off anyway. (And if that’s what drew you here, I am so sorry…you totally got punked.)

But I have to ask (just to plan ahead for the next thousand years, of course):

Do you have any easy, non-OCD, non-intimidating ways you stay organized you think I might try for a day??

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Being

Mama & son in field

The kids are tucked in bed dreaming their Lego-and-lollipop-filled dreams and I go downstairs and flop into My Chair and exhale loudly with all my limbs splayed out as far as they can reach. It takes me a few minutes to gather the energy to get My Fuzzy Blanket and wrap it all the way up to my chin, and as soon as I do, it starts:

The rehashing of the day’s activities and the replaying of the hustle and the bustle and my quick transformation into snappy mom and order-barking-mom and the focus on getting things done and the checking of the lists…twice even. And again like clockwork I start beating myself up for being That Mom and try to reassure myself that the script change starts tomorrow.

It’s always tomorrow. The sun and Fun Mom and Dedicated Writer and Consistent Worker-Outer — they will all come out tomorrow. Right?

And then I fall asleep and when I wake up and I forget all about the new script because I have the old one down pat, man. Down. Pat. I don’t need cue cards or a teleprompter or anyone off to the side feeding me my lines. And the scenes unfold exactly as the script dictates they would and the next thing I know, I’m splayed out with limbs askew and I remember that doggone it, today was supposed to be the day.

My husband and I have been talking lately about me having the courage to be who I am and letting go of what I think others expect of me. I’ve been trying to be a great cook even though I hate cooking and meal planning. I’ve been trying to be Holly Homemaker but in all honesty consider it’s a good day if just the countertops are clean. And while eating and cleanliness are important (some would say vital), I’m realizing that putting a meal on the table and trying to be the next Giada are two totally different things. And I’m learning it takes more out of me to try to be amazing at the things I’m naturally bad at, than it does to pour energy into the things I’m naturally good at.

I spent the majority of last year ignoring the things that make me me, and instead poured myself into the things that are the antithesis of me because I’ve been too fearful to fully embrace me. I’m scared of success and I’m scared of failure and I get too easily overwhelmed by the big picture — so instead of starting small I just don’t start at all. And when I do that, everyone suffers — my kids suffer and my husband suffers and my calling suffers and everyone and every thing around me suffers.

And I think that makes God suffer, too.

So this year has turned into tomorrow and now the script is changing because if the script doesn’t change then the show gets cancelled. And the changes started last week and it was so hard to read the new script. The paper was different and type was small and I think it was written in Farsi and it was so very hard. The words were foreign on my tongue and I felt like an inexperienced hack — but I read them anyway.

And I acted my heart out.

On Monday after school, instead of demanding that bags be unpacked and homework started immediately, I scooped my kids onto my bed and we started playing. We had a pillow fight and they pretended they were sumo wrestlers and thank goodness Jaana remembered to make a pillow boundary around the edges so Paxton didn’t fall off. They played Rock the Boat and Bicycle and we laughed and giggled and watching the two of them enjoying the moment reminded me again and again that there’s so much I miss when I’m That Mom. That night as I tucked Jaana into bed she told God in her prayers, “Thanks for the fun we had with Mommy today.”

I don’t ever remember her saying a prayer of gratitude that I made her do homework the minute we got home from school.

As soon as we walked through the door on Tuesday afternoon, the kids yelled, “race you to Mommy’s bed!” and off we went to play and pillow fight and laugh together. On Friday we played Headbandz and Guess Who? and Twister and watching Paxton trying to put left foot on green while right foot was on red is something I will carry deep in my heart forever and ever amen.

The next morning as I was still sleeping, Jaana snuck in and put breakfast by the bed with a precious note that said, “Dear Mommy, you are such a great mom! You’re a good writer. This is a gift for everything you do. Love, Jaana”

That note is my very own Academy Award.

Working off a new script meant some things just didn’t get gone. Our meals were Anything But Gourmet. The house was Just Kinda Sorta Clean. I only vacuumed once and forgot about that load of laundry in the washing machine.

But the new script brought a lot of peace. I wrote some. I ran even more. We ate and didn’t go hungry. I enjoyed my kids and my days and I enjoyed my week. I looked ahead at next week’s scripts. I felt more fulfilled and more satisfied and inherently more me.

And I think that’s what it’s supposed to be like — this journey as parents and this journey as Christ-followers and just this journey as sojourners. I adore the Amplified version of John 10:10, “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” Not just have life for the sake of living, but to enjoy life. Not just have it in abundance, but until it overflows.

Life that is to the full and overflows isn’t a life of tasks and to-do’s and days spent with doing. It’s life full of relationship and being and I truly believe that includes being with my kids and enjoying my life with them. Life that is enjoyed is life spent being who God created me to be. Being a wife and being a mom and being a writer and being a runner.

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And the overflow of that Wife/Mom/Writer/Runner Being pours into meals that are mediocre and a house that needs to be dusted again. It fills the holes and turns the just-okay into more-than-okay. Because that’s how things work in God’s economy. When that script is weird and uncomfortable, that usually means God wrote it. (<= tweet that)

So as I sit here full and content and satisfied, I rehearse next week’s script and allow those foreign words to roll around on my tongue so when it’s time to say my lines they aren’t as awkward:

  • Take the kids to the park and leave my phone in the car
  • Give grace to Jaana and not insist her room stay clean because after all, she’s a pretty amazing kid in a million other ways
  • Go outside with the kids and play

And lastly,

  • Just BE.

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What I Love About Summer

Summer is…

 

  1. Splashes and giggles at the pool
  2. Not caring whose sunglasses you grabbed out of the pool bag
  3. Hide-n-seek outside after dinner when the sun shines low through the trees
  4. The kids singing at the top of their lungs
  5. Their sun-kissed cheeks smiling ear-to-ear
  6. The permanent smell of sunscreen as I kiss little heads goodnight
  7. Sleeping in and nowhere to rush off to
  8. Ice cream breaks
  9. Bare little piggies wiggling in the sand
  10. Coppertone-tan backsides in the bathtub
  11. Front-porch picnic lunches
  12. New freckles popping out to say hello
  13. Spontaneous trips to The Big City to visit cousins and swim in their new pool
  14. Diet Cherry Lime-ades at Sonic
  15. Windows open and fans on
  16. Trips to the grocery store for poolside snacks
  17. Giant yawns only a full summers day can bring
  18. Time: to think • dream • pray • write
  19. Temporary tattoos
  20. People you love, loving all these things with you

What do you love about summer?

Turns Out…She Was Right After All.

Growing up, there are certain things I remember my mom saying, doing or instilling in my brother and I that at the time didn’t make sense. Things that in my naive and young mind I either couldn’t comprehend, or disagreed with, or thought was just plain weird. But as I’m raising my own kids, I’m finding myself saying, doing and instilling the exact same things. And I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

Until this weekend.

I can’t remember the specifics…but I said something to Jaana about who-knows-what. (Espousing some mumbo-jumbo about something uber-important, I’m sure.) And she gave me this look. And I suddenly just knew it was the same look I gave my own mom about something when I was her age. It was that “you are totally weird” look. And it hit me like a ton of bricks — Jaana is me. And I am my mom.

And it turns out, my mom was actually right about a lot.

And now that I’ve caught my breath and my heart has settled from this realization, I have to give credit where credit is due. And say with sincerity — I’m sorry I gave you so much attitude about all of this. But rest assured, payback has hit. And it ain’t pretty.

Here are a few things my mom was dead-on about:

1. Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees. Jaana, and her blessed little eight year-old self has no concept of money. So as responsible parents, we’re trying to teach her that you can’t just “go buy stuff” any ol’ time you want to. She insisted on this special Pack-It lunchbox for school…you know the one, from the informercial? That keeps food cold for like 8 hours? So she has one, but has gotten very lazy about unpacking it when she gets home from school. And a lot of food has had to be thrown away, because we don’t find until the next morning the items that could have been refrigerated and saved. So now she has to pay me for those items. Not because she didn’t eat them, but because it went unopened straight into the garbage and wasted. The good news is that I’m up about $6.50 right now.

2. It’s Harder Making Friends as You Get Older. As I’m now almost 39, I realize that friendships are harder to make. Not necessarily because of a fear of investing in people…but for me at least, it’s because of time. We’re all busy with families and children and getting together to develop friendships is a lot harder than when I was single. There’s less time and money to just meet for lunch all the time. Or dinner. Or weekend get-togethers. And when I do have free time, I want more time with my husband or family.

3. Your Family Really Doesn’t Hear You. I honestly think they are all going deaf. I can speak and speak and speak and not a single person will acknowledge that I’m talking. I even am repeating myself to the dog. The dog. I stood in the kitchen the other day and threw a towel on the counter and said (to myself, naturally, ‘cuz no one was listening): “Really? You seriously didn’t just hear that. WHAT ABOUT NOW?? DO YOU HEAR THIS?!”

4. I Did Want to Stop Talking On the Phone. When I was 16, my mom told me that someday I wouldn’t want to talk on the phone anymore. I think I laughed like a hyena as my hormone-driven mind couldn’t fathom the concept. And when the phone would ring and my mom wouldn’t jump to answer it, I would stare, mouth agape and slack-jawed that she could just let it ring. Well, Jaana has mastered the mouth-agape-and-slack-jawed look and constantly tells me, “Mommy! Your phone’s ringing!” as if the ring itself didn’t alert me to that fact. And I let it ring. A lot. She’s shakes her head in amazement and disbelief. A lot.

5. You Really Should Wear Clean Underwear to Your Doctor’s Appointments.

6. I Have Mastered “The Look.” You know the one. Not the one you got at home when you did something wrong, but the one from the rear-view mirror of the car. When you’d be in the back seat and do or say something to completely aggravate your parents and drive them to want to run off the road? And suddenly these eyes would appear, larger than life in the rear-view mirror and give you a non-physical smack-down that shut you up completely? I can do that now. It’s awesome. (The only part I can’t do is the raising of one eyebrow like my mom can, which is sad. ‘Cuz that really drives it home, you know?)

7. No One Notices (or Cares) That You Really Have Spent All Day Cleaning. I’d come home from school (which felt like six of the longest most-excrutiating hours of my life) and ask my mom what she did that day. And she’d say “Clean.” And I’d be all, “But what about all the other hours of the day?” And she’d be all, “I cleaned, I took a shower, and now you’re home.” And I’d be all, “As if!” And she’d be all, “Watch your attitude, young lady!” And I’d be all, “Whatever!” followed by a door slam. And she’d be all, “You’re grounded!” But I totally, totally get it now. Like, totally.

8. There Really Are Starving Children in Africa.

9. It Does Matter How the Towels Are Folded. Or how the dishwasher is loaded, or how the pillows are arranged on the couch. The little things done my way make a difference.

10. You Truly Can’t Start the Day Without Coffee. I remember my parents downing a pot or two of coffee before even opening their eyes growing up, and it seemed so weird to me. But now the scales have been lifted. Praise the Lord.

And so, the circle of life continues.

What about you? What do you need to fess up to and admit your mom was right about?