holding two tensions

Last week while sitting in the Kumon waiting room, I picked up a copy of The Magnolia Journal. I’ve read about two or three of them now. I’d forgotten how nice it was to read an article from an actual page, without the eye-strain that usually comes with a phone.

Reflecting on the recent birth of her fifth child, Joanna wrote about her realization that she already possessed everything she needed to do the job she was called to do. She was talking about being equipped to be a mother at the age of 40, in addition to mother to four other children, wife to husband, Chip, and a woman involved in many endeavors.

I didn’t feel particularly inspired by her message, although I wasn’t at all turned off by it either. She got me thinking about the countless mom articles I’ve read online saying things like “YOU. ARE. ENOUGH.”, and the countless others rebelling against the you are enough message to proclaim loud and clear “Actually, you’re NOT enough, but Jesus is!”

Sorry if it makes me laugh. I completely understand what each side is saying, and I wouldn’t even go so far to divide them up into “sides”. Obviously I agree with both.

The you-are-enough people are saying, “Look, quit comparing yourself to Joanna Gaines or so-and-so’s cropped and gorgeous Instagram account. The answers ain’t coming in any store-bought containers of home-jarred marmalade or The Happy Planner stickers you  purchased from Wal-Mart. Be yourself and love that person. Own your mistakes but for God’s sake please don’t let them define you.  Embrace life’s changes, trust your intuition, and go find your own perfect place in the universe.”

The you-are-not-enough-but-Jesus-is people are saying, “A mother’s love is not enough. It’s not enough to save the world you helped create or drive sin out of the family bloodline. Expect great things, like for your flawed and earthly love to break you where the healing light can finally shine. Rejoice in the Lord! and in the glorious work of Jesus Christ on the cross, forgiving your sins, inspiring heavenly love, and reminding us with every step of the way of His promise to make the world perfect again.”

I made my bed again today with no problems.

 

on waxing poetic

Over the past several mornings I’ve quit making my bed. It’s a temporary way of rebelling against the laws of mess-gravity. Three years of doing this consistently, almost every single day in the morning before breakfast, and it has yet to become an effortless habit. Making my bed still feels like something I’m very much having to make myself do.

I’ve been thinking lately about “feel-good capital”. I’m probably misusing the term capital in some way, but it’s basically the idea of how much “feel-good” effect certain actions produce on a regular basis.  I’m obviously not taking about the hedonistic, self-seeking kind of “feel-good” pleasure, but the happy feelings that come with a sense of wholeness and well-being. It’s the experience of flow, of lasting reward, satisfaction, and joy.

I’m learning that in order for me to remain consistent in homeschooling, to keep me from drifting too far from my goals and desires, I need a good refresh about every month or so. I’m saving my fall decorations and pencils until we switch over to October and the fake fall days are past and the bright fall weather is hopefully here to stay for awhile.

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We’re adding history into our days for a while.  A mom gave me a set of old timeline cards she wasn’t using anymore and for four years they’ve been part of my resource collection. I really wanted to jump into some American History, particularly the 1800’s. The kids felt strongly about learning more about Ancient Egypt and the pyramids. I don’t really believe in the way of “child-led learning”, but I do take their interests into account.

So far every year has been different. My favorite times are still those spontaneous moments of fun, life, and learning. Yesterday while I was out getting my steps in, the boys asked if they could cook some bread sticks and bring their flash cards outside.

Of course, boys.

Every day is one of picking and choosing. Some days I need to focus extra on school or spend a little more time with a child.  On others the laundry needs more attention. Some days I declutter and wipe down the bottom kitchen cabinets. I can’t get to everything that needs to be done around here, but every day we find time for what is needed that day.

Today, yesterday, and the morning before

I didn’t feel like making my bed

so I didn’t.

through the years

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(On the way home from taking my daughter to confirmation, the song 7 Years by Lukas Graham came on the radio. I love the soulful intensity of this song, and when I got home I looked up the lyrics and found a rewrite of the original song sung by Leah Guest. I love Lukas’s version for its painful truth and jaded confusion, but I like Leah’s lyrics too for all the same reasons and because I hear in her the female version of faith, hope, and love.)

Once I was seven years old
and my mama told me to
be the kindest girl that I could be
Once I was seven years old

This is a scary world
I didn’t let that phase me
We put our brave face on
from the morning til the evening
And by eleven I’d learnt words
that hurt more than bruises
Life is a restless game
we’re trying not to lose it

Once I was eleven years old
my daddy told me my heart
had to be the prettiest thing about me
Once I was eleven years old

I’ve always dreamt so big
and I’m a keep on dreaming
and in a hopeless world
I’ve always kept believing
I’ve always kept on breathing
always kept achieving
Despite the sticks and stones
I will not be defeated

Soon I’ll be twenty years old
and my brothers told me to
hold the ones who love me most so closely
Soon I’ll be twenty years old

I wanna make a change
make this place a little better
We need to live within a world
where everybody matters
I don’t want to see
anyone’s sons or daughters
crying cause they don’t fit in
with what society has taught them

Soon I’ll be twenty years old
and my friends have told me to
keep my chin up when my tears are streaming
Soon I’ll be twenty years old

Soon we’ll be thirty years old
what will our lives hold?
Will I be satisfied with all that surrounds me?
Soon I’ll be thirty years old

No matter how old we are
age is just a number
It’s never too late to love
to reach or care for each other
to forgive a brother
or to find a lover
Life is a mystery
waiting to be discovered

Soon I’ll be sixty years old
My life will be story
where my children tell their children about me
I’ll watch a generation
rise up to change a nation
The past lays down foundations
for the future celebrations

Soon I’ll be sixty years old
Will I be all alone
cause I never valued what was all around me?
Soon I’ll be sixty years old

Soon I’ll be sixty years old
and God will show me
that he was by my side
through my every heartbeat

Once I was seven years old
and my mama told me to
be the kindest girl that I could be
Once I was seven years old

what’s it about?

We ended up sleeping at my in-law’s house last night. I called my mother-in-law and asked if they’d mind if we came over for the night. They didn’t mind at all, and in fact, I think they were glad. The kids spread out to work on puzzles, paint pirate masks, and watch the baseball game. I curled up with a book and had a good night’s rest.

Since I was in town, which means the drive was only half as long, I went to the Y early this morning. Another homeschooling mom and I have met there in the mornings a few times. We spend time in the pool and get plenty of time to talk. I came out feeling completely refreshed and ready to start the day.  The morning light was beautiful.

I’m feeling a pull toward the outside world. I don’t know what it is, but that feeling of “needing more” has been visiting me lately. What is it exactly, that I am needing more of? Motherhood has primarily been an endeavor of running on empty, on low, on never enough. I’m looking around at the kitchen counter crumbs again like, “WHY???”

How is it I’m still here doing this? Why do I continue to choose this life? How much could I have done, how much money could I have made, how many more hours of a clean house or adult interaction could I have enjoyed? When I get to a place of growth and abundance, I turn around and fervently pour it all back into my home and family.

I’m sensing another one of those internal shifts. The last one had to do with turning 30, with trying to make sense of all that had happened in the previous decade of my life. God-willing I’ll be turning 37 this year which basically means I’m almost 40. I’d love to write more, dance, and learn to play the piano. I simply can’t fit it all into my life.

My main August goal was to start well with school and I feel like we did that. My September goal was to continue to be consistent with the homeschool routine, as well as to solidify a structure for one of my boys who I feel is needing extra help. We signed him up for the 9-month (minimum) Kumon reading program in our area. I think he likes it.

I feel so thankful.  Again I feel completely blessed to even have money to use for such a thing. I do sometimes wish we had more, but I’ve always, always, ALWAYS had enough. Our Y membership is supposed to run out at the end of this month, but now I’m questioning letting it go. I don’t use it enough, but when I do, I’m glad that I did.

The kids are wanting to make peanut butter cookies.  I keep telling them “I’ll be there in a minute, I’m almost done”. I just have to think of a title, I tell them. “What’s it about?”, they ask and they gather. I really don’t know. It’s hard for me to know when to pursue that calling you feel and when to simply smile, dream and dream, and walk away.