Good morning! It’s a chilly one here in Coronado, where the ocean turns the sun-warmed air into low-hanging fog and penetrating damp at night. Our window-filled house absorbs the cold, so I have taken to cuddling up in sweatshirts and these tried-and-true slippers while I sip my morning coffee.
How have you been doing lately? Feeling goal-oriented and focused, or frustrated and not so sure? I’m in the second camp, I think, with a general sense that there isn’t enough time or quiet in the day to get anything extra accomplished.
There’s still more settling in to do in our home: I’d love to hang pictures, buy plants, and organize the piles of Rubbermaid containers and junk in the garage. I’d love to run regularly and wake up early like I talked about in this post (instead of once every three weeks…). I’d like to start some dedicated preschool time again with Lena again instead of running around so much. I’d like to get a haircut (haven’t gotten one since I donated my hair last year!). I’d like… I’d love… I wish…
The other day I started thinking about this long list, and I got so discouraged. Am I just a procrastinator? Am I all talk and no action? I am a stay-at-home mom, my only job is my home and family, I have no excuse for not getting it all done. I’ll never have more time in the day than I have now!
I was beating myself up the other day when I remembered two conversations with two people, one of them who I know very well and one of whom I have just met.
The first person is my grandmother, who is amazing. She is and has always been stylish, beautiful, a fantastic cook, and a cornerstone family member. She wakes up at 5am to walk on her treadmill each day. She never fails to send cards or packages for birthdays, all holidays, and just because.
Long ago, when I was about nine or ten, we were visiting my grandparents for a week in St. Louis, just like we did every summer. “What would you like to do while you’re here this week, Becca?” she asked me.
“Hmm,” I said, “I definitely want to bake chocolate chip cookies and go to the Science Museum… and– ”
“Well, let’s bake cookies right now!” she suggested.
I looked at her, astonished. I meant sometime, but she was saying now? I had just arrived! We had ages to make chocolate chip cookies! A whole week!
But even then, at age nine, I realized my grandmother’s wisdom. We had time right now to start doing what we wanted to do. A quiet afternoon, all the ingredients, and a goal. If we put it off to another day, who knew if it would really happen? This way we would be able to eat chocolate chip cookies all week long!
I never forgot her initiative, her energy, her make-it-happen wisdom that afternoon. I realized all these things also formed the core of the woman I admired, the woman who always sends everyone in her family a birthday gift (and it gets there a week early). The woman who sewed me a whole wardrobe of gorgeous dress-up gowns that I wore to threads. The woman who knitted the blankets my children sleep under every night. The woman who taught me to knit! The woman who makes it happen, stitched with love, every day for a whole clan of people who adore her.
At the same time, though, I know that there are only 24 hours in the day, and I can’t get everything done right away, right now, especially with small and precious children in my care. That cliche about letting the dishes go because your children need you? Most of the time it’s not even a choice. They need you right now.
The second conversation, one I had more recently, encouraged me about that:
Elliott and I took the kids to the playground on Sunday afternoon, and I noticed a small child I recognized from church. He’s African American and his dad is white, so they’re not hard to remember. Pretty soon his dad, Elliott and I were talking, and he told us a little more of his story. He and his wife have three daughters — all in middle school now — and they have just recently begun fostering children with the goal of adoption.
My heart swelled with excitement and longing just talking to him. In recent years I’ve become more interesting in fostering and adopting. However, with our transitional military life and our own young children and our relatively young marriage (five years this January!), it seems like too much right now.
Sometimes I get frustrated, watching the days go by and wondering if we shouldn’t be doing more, serving more, giving back more, accomplishing more. I talk about fostering, or taking my kids to a nursing home regularly, or doing preschool with Lena (where has that goal gone lately??), or running or journaling or waking up early or whatever the new thing is this week.
But what my friend at the playground helped me to realize is this:
There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under heaven.
Their season is now. They can foster now. They can adopt now. They are ready, and they have taken on this challenge. Not when their kids were three and one. But now. During our conversation, his three preteen girls were watching his foster son, and so this father gave us all his attention and chatted away. Elliott and I, meanwhile, talked with the parental head swivel (“where is Lena… where is Gil… back to conversation… where is Lena… where is Gil…”) and excused ourselves more than once to rescue or dust off our children.
We left shortly afterwards and headed home to a lunch, storytime, and putting them to bed for naps. We collapsed onto the couch afterwards, tired, heads ringing, glad for peace and books and time alone together. I had planned to ask Elliott to organize the garage with me then, but it totally slipped my mind. I wouldn’t have wanted to then anyway. I had a precious hour to rest with my husband on a Sunday afternoon, and that is exactly what my body craved and needed right then. I needed rest. It was the season for rest. And the garage could wait.
Sometimes it is good to jump right up and bake chocolate chip cookies with your child. Sometimes it is good to sit still by yourself. Sometimes — meaning sometime soon — it will be right to organize the garage. It is the season for organizing the garage.
But right now… I hear a little voice calling, “Mama!”
And so it is the season for that.