Holding the Baton

It’s Saturday evening and God decided to close yet another day with an unspeakably beautiful sky. Blends of hot pink and orange set the sky ablaze with blue-gray puffy clouds eerily blotted and strung all over it. After being inside for almost 72 hours, I took the boys to a pumpkin patch and stood speechless looking at the sparkling crescent moon, the bumpy rows of pumpkins, and eventually the fiery backdrop of the sunset.

Josh has been hiking in Manistee National Park for three days (he comes home tomorrow, Hallelujah!) and I’ve been within the walls of my home almost that entire time. Jack was diagnosed with strep throat yesterday which kept us home, under blankets and watching movies. Not only have I been single parenting for three days, but I’ve been doing so with strep throat, potty training, re-sleep training (does it ever end for us?) and house arrest. Even as a “stay at home mom”, I rarely have days where I never leave. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a busy body (to a fault!) and often miss sweet opportunities to soak in quality time with my children. The past three days have of course contained neurotic (but so practical, right?) attic organization, washing every surface of our house, sorting and selling toys (let’s try out minimalism, shall we??), and making banana bread and from-scratch chicken noodle soup. And that was just Thursday.

I love being busy and often it’s with the right things. But I toss the baton to Josh too quickly when he gets home from work and start chipping away at the to-do list that is so preciously important and yet no one in the world knows or cares about it but me. The deadlines are in my head, and they both motivate me and crush me. My hands are always folding, chopping, writing, washing, or organizing. My days of carpool, yoga teaching, piano lessons, soccer practice, potty training, and all the other little details of this small life leave me tired at the end of most days which is why I lean on Josh’s valiant return as the day starts its descent. Because I’m blessed with a helpful spouse who is madly in love with his children, and I now have a hands-on, “here-is-my-life-let-me-help-you” aunt in town, I sometimes wonder if I can even do the job of being a mom on my own if I had to. I’ve been in this dance for a while where I do my part and I do my best, but I also bounce between help as much as I can. And the enemy lies to me and tells me that I’m just selfish and I couldn’t really do this alone. I carry the weight of the accusation.

But, I’m so glad these three days gave me the opportunity to rise up. I’ve been holding the baton firmly and independently for three days and running this small stretch of the race as strongly as possible. Side note: Why is it that the moment dad goes away, strep throat (or insert your curveball) arrives? I took help when I needed to teach my yoga classes, but other than that, it’s been only mom on deck. Not a big deal, not a long period of time. Single parents live in this zone. Why write a blog post about something as small as three little on-my-own days?

Because the past three days have liberated me from thinking I can’t do this job on my own. The shift in my confidence as a mother is big enough to share because if you need it, I want you to experience it too.

I talked this morning at Holy Yoga about relying on God’s strength and I have felt my muscles of confidence flexing and growing for three days. I’ve drawn new boundaries (and stuck to them!) all by myself with Oliver’s bedtime. I’ve created more peace and simplicity in our living space not to model a Pinterest-perfect house but rather to create more order. I’ve played “Hi Hi Cherrio” tons of times and carved out two different movie sessions just with Jack to watch The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I’ve done the book-reading, story-telling,  doctor-visiting and imaginative play. I’ve also set boundaries for my own work time and required that boys entertain themselves. For me, this is victorious, because the strength I have to do this job comes from the Lord and the enemy cannot manipulate me into thinking that I don’t have what it takes. I do. And these three days have revealed to me that I’ve got this. He’s tested me and strengthened me and I’m okay.

My question to you is this: What manipulative half-truths are you living into or entertaining? Where does the enemy twist your weakness and turn your response from appropriate conviction to failure and defeat?  And when the load you’ve been given to bear truly feels like it’s too much for you, like God was crazy wrong in choosing your shoulders for the weight, are you going to Him for strength? Or are you tirelessly trying to do this thing on your own and even burying some resentment for this corner you’re in?

This week for me has been so much more than mommy sleepovers (I slept in their room), pumpkin picking and tickle wars. God has reminded me how precious my life is and given my self-talk a necessary adjustment.  And, just as magnificent as the October sunset, He’s reminding me that His design is perfect and beautiful.

I can do this. And so can you.

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