Whoa. Where did September go??
Now that we have two school aged children, I’ve become keenly aware of how busy and hectic the fall season can be. Transitioning from the lack of structure and routine of the summer months into the scheduled-to-the-hilt (what in the world is a hilt?!) school year routine is jarring. This year, Mateo joined Sienna in the elementary school summer program on August 1st and the kids started soccer practices that same week. So, even though school didn’t officially start until the 16th, our summer more or less ended at the beginning of August.
Between the fall busy season at my office, school, soccer, starting the Stephen Ministry training program (more on that later), church, football season, family activities and social events, life has been super full the past couple months. There was a week of crazy work days as we worked to meet the 9/15 tax deadline. I’m not cut out for 12 hour workdays back-to-back-to-back. I don’t know how those accountants do it for weeks or months on end! But, for the most part, we’ve found a good balance of activity and downtime which has felt manageable.
My favorite part of the week is attending mass on Sunday! My goodness, those couple hours fill me up with such joy and peace, that it feels like I can deal with anything that comes my way the rest of the week. We recently switched from sitting toward the back of the right hand side of the church, to sitting just in the front of the middle of the left hand side. Specifically, next to the stained glass of Jesus raising his arms.
Dennis dutifully gets the whole family up and going on Sunday morning so we can make the 8:00 a.m. service. We then record the Dolphins game which is typically on at 10:00 a.m. our time and pray that no well intentioned member of our church family decides to give us an update on the game before we head home.
Sliding into the pew with Dennis and the kids, I settle in for the beautiful, familiar routine of the liturgy. Cuddling with the kids is the best way to keep them from getting bored, loud, and unruly. It’s typically about a 90 minutes service, so I understand that the kids get fidgety. But, if we snuggle up with them they tend to behave very well. I’ve learned so much about the importance of loving actions over frustrated words in getting the kids to behave the way we’d like. Sienna likes to lay her head in my lap during the sermon so I can run my fingers through her hair. It’s relaxing for us both!
As I wrote about before, our coffee date while the kids are in Sunday School is something I look forward to all week. It’s so lovely to walk hand-in-hand with my husband and talk, uninterrupted, about whatever is on our mind. Sometimes we talk about the logistics of the upcoming week, other times we just chat and reconnect. Again, this time of connection with my sweet husband totally fills me up for the busyness of the weekly routine.
Life is full and blessed. We’re soaking up as much of our kids as possible during this stage of life. On the brink of nine and six years old, we’re well out of the little kid stage and moving quickly into the fun middle years of childhood. I’ve heard so many parents say that these ages (basically before the teen years!) are the best. I can see why. Sienna and Mateo are interested in anything that Dennis and I are enthusiastic about. They’re inquisitive, engaged, and excited to learn new things and have new experiences. Just talking to them and hearing their perspective on life is delightful!
On the other hand, we’re now a family of four people with different ideas on what we want to do, eat, watch, etc. Whether it’s picking a movie for Friday Movie Night or debating the dinner options, there’s no shortage of opinions in our house. Sometimes the kids will take the high road and let their sibling pick the movie, other times kids (okay, mostly Teo) is sent to his room for throwing a fit about not wanting to eat what is served for dinner. If there’s only one of something left, God help us. They’ll both want that last banana desperately!
Trying to rush to get dinner on the table? Yes, of course that’s when Teo drops his pencil sharpener and the shavings go everywhere. Trying to get out the door for school and work in the morning? Sienna’s shoes will inevitably be missing even though we’ve asked her to put them on ten times over the past 15 minutes.
The peace that I’ve come to cherish is when I take a deep breath and lovingly tell Teo, “It’s okay. Go get the broom and dustpan, we’ll get these shavings swept up quickly so we can eat.” Or, when I look Sienna in the eyes and calmly tell her – “Your shoes are by the front door. Go put them on right now so we can get going.” We’re all just trying to do our best to get things done individually and as a family.
I constantly remind myself of the basic tenant of our faith that we’re not doing anything to earn or deserve God’s favor. Christ’s sacrifice means that, by grace, we’re saved and sanctified. We’re all sinners and fall short of God’s glory. It takes all the pressure off! If I slip up and yell at the kids – like I did this week when I accidentally bumped my head on the car door jam as I was reaching for Teo’s school bag – then I pull myself together and apologize to my children for acting poorly. They respond with “We forgive you mommy.” We are reconciled to one another and I’ve taught them that we all make mistakes and it’s safe to apologize with humility to right the wrong you’ve committed.
Sitting here, in the fall of 2016, over three years since my awakening, I see life entirely differently. There are ups and downs, highs and lows in life. I haven’t been blogging as much lately because these realizations don’t strike me as radical, like they did a couple years ago. But, I want to write more and share the daily ups and downs, the simple lessons and moments of tenderness that I experience.
I love the peace that comes from surrendering and not trying to have everything figured out. I love the joy that comes from being present with my family and letting life unfold in ways I’d never imagined. I love trusting that God has a perfect plan and knowing that he loves and protects us all more completely than we could ever know. I love taking the time to write out what’s in my heart and mind and am thankful for loving readers.