Lighten Up

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Alex, my eldest, asked a question from our Table Topics Box of Questions the other morning:

“What exercise is so fun it doesn’t feel like exercise?!”

He responds to his own question in all seriousness:  “Playing Monopoly.”

Younger brother, Drew, quickly pipes up:  “PETTING SALLY!”

Moments later I overhear:

“What is the healthiest fast food you eat?”

Alex:  “Carl’s Jr fries on French Fry Fridays!”

Drew:  “No, Alex.  McDonalds’ fries….you can eat them faster.  They are healthier if you eat them FAST.”

And I allow a chuckle to escape because—-it has been a MONTH.  Illness has taken over our family in every which way you could imagine.  Friends joke about quarantining our house.  “You guys just can’t seem to catch a break!” another co-worker commiserates.  Even the lady at Safeway smiled and empathized, “I’m sorry…” when she saw my cart’s contents the other day.

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I am a planner.  Type A to the core.  Maybe….a control freak?  It is often a joke that these personality traits have lead me to my profession “managing” eight and nine year olds in the classroom.

The unpredictability that naturally comes along with parenthood has been one of the bigger challenges for me over the last eight years.  You can’t plan for illness.  Maybe predict it or stress about it, but not plan.  Injury can happen even during the most innocuous moments.  Case in point, Drew split his forehead open after tripping while singing “This Little Light of Mine” with a flashlight in the dark.  Sweet and cute moments can quickly land you in the ER within the blink of an eye.

But moments unfold that surprise.   “Feasts” made of wooden food and plastic tableware spread before you with pride.  Love notes “Four Sally” taped by your dog’s bed {when you’re FOUR why would you write FOR properly?!}.  LEGO creations carefully crafted for your approval.  Even early awakenings that lead to unexpected beauty.

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The other morning at 5:58am, Drew summoned us with, “You HAVE to see the sunrise!  It is so beautiful!!!!!!!!”  This was quickly followed by “I need to draw that!”

About 10 minutes later, I exited the shower to this scene.  Truly priceless use of toilet as art easel.

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These little people, swirling around us each day are often a mystery.  And for me?  I often want to control, contain, quiet and subdue that mystery.  Children, whether my 3rd grade students or my own two boys, unarm.  They surprise.  They are unpredictable.

Through it all, though, I am seeing the message loud and clear, though, “Lighten Up, Christine.  Lighten UP.”  It’s not a flippant, “get it together” tone from God.  More of a loving reminder—-a phrase to allow these moments of joy and humor push their way up through the crevices.  To see the beauty these little ones see and soak it in.  To let go of the reins a bit and loosen up.  An invitation to Lighten Up.

And when all else fails….Donuts.  Just donuts.

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This post was written for my friend Mihee’s blog, First Day Walking.  If you aren’t already following her writing, sign up to receive her posts.  Mihee makes me think deeper, ask harder questions and shares about ministry and mamahood in such a fresh, real way.  In May, she is hosting a new series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us.  Head over to Mihee’s blog, First Day Walking, to read this post as well as many others this month!

2 thoughts on “Lighten Up

  1. Loved your last blog, especially being a “recovering perfectionist” myself. We had the great joy(mostly) of bringing up a daughter and a son, five years apart. I remember the crazy days of unpredictability, and feeling like you’ll never have a moments peace.
    All I would say is, cherish this time! Before you know it, and I mean that, they will be teenagers or grown up and gone, and you’ll hunger for these times of joy and unpredictability. You’ll remember when you were the “cat’s meow” in their lives, they couldn’t wait for time with you, and they wanted to snoodle you and cuddle anytime. Yep, cherish this. It only comes around once.

  2. Thanks, friend, for that post. I need that reminder right now. I miss you so much and long for a walk to talk, commiserate, laugh, and talk teaching. 🙂 I, too, need to lighten up. I am a control freak as well… hmmm… and a teacher. Connection? Maybe. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Love ya!

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