It has been one of those weeks! You know what I mean? Have you had one of those weeks too?
My husband was out of town for a few days; the kids had activities every evening; I had appointments and obligations during the days; and I’m still figuring out how to manage and schedule my time with a new part-time ministry job. My dishwasher seems to have multiple personality disorder, sometimes cleaning the dishes and sometimes not-so-much. Clean laundry is piled on the couch; dirty laundry is overflowing from the hampers. There’s a light dusting of crumbs on the hardwood floors, and flatsurfaceitis (that compulsion to cover every flat surface with uneven, falling-over stacks of school papers and mail) has taken over the dining room.
Yesterday, I had four parent-teacher conferences at my boys’ school. And, though I had really encouraging reports from most of them, one of my sons is really struggling. His teacher is wonderful — she’s sweet and sensitive and determined to figure out strategies to help him, but she sees how discouraged and overwhelmed he is and isn’t sure of the best way to help my boy. His Tourette Syndrome and OCD and attention issues combined with his difficulty managing frustration and solving problems and being flexible are making fourth grade especially difficult for him. Honestly, that’s an understatement. He feels completely buried by the weight of what he thinks is expected and his inability to manage it.
At home, he is often explosive. At school, he turtles into his shell. I have become a fierce momma-bear, determined to figure out ways to bring out all the strengths and tenderheartedness and intelligence and creativity that I know he has. I’m reading books and articles and talking to teachers and friends; I’m trying so hard to respond with patience and love when he acts out; I’m sitting beside him, keeping on-task while he does homework; and I’m hugging him a lot, reminding him that I love him, that I know he’s trying, that I know he’s smart and funny and strong and sweet, that we will work through this — just like we did a couple years ago. But, truthfully, I don’t know how to help him either. Like his teacher, I won’t give up trying, but I don’t really know.
Of course, I also have five other children. I have teenage girls with lots of emotions and struggles for independence. I have an 11-year-old son who is a sweet, snuggly boy one minute and a man-child interrupting me with an obnoxious Mo-om, I know! when I try to tell him something. My 8-year-old must need more attention because he spends most of his evenings looking for ways to annoy everyone else — grabbing things from their hands, kicking their chairs, making noises that tempt me to walk around wearing a pair of earplugs to dull the sound. And my youngest is about to turn 7 and needs me to snuggle with him and hold him and read to him. He also must need some extra attention because he suddenly can’t pour his own cereal or syrup or put his own snack into a baggie for school.
And I have a husband with continuing health issues who travels every other week on business trips. I want to help him, to be the buffer between my husband and some of the stress in our lives. I want to make our home a peaceful, welcoming place he comes back to after a long few days of traveling. But too often, he arrives home to a counter of dirty dishes and a pile of shoes by the front door.
Many weeks, I juggle all the balls without any of the important ones falling too many times. This week, I think I dropped all the balls. And they all landed on me. And I’m still trying to climb my way out of them.
My husband’s beloved grandfather passed away yesterday. I’m helpless to take away any of that stress or pain. Three of my sons went to school today without studying for spelling tests. I didn’t even notice what my girls were wearing; so if they’re kidnapped, I won’t be able to tell the authorities “she was wearing a pink sweater with her favorite blue jeans.” I have no idea what they looked like when they left our house because I hugged them from my dark bedroom as I was crawling out of bed 45 minutes later than I should have been.
And so — I am taking a deep breath. I am taking long sips of black coffee from one of my favorite coffee mugs. I am closing my eyes and remembering what I know to be true.
I am not perfect. I can’t always juggle everything well. But for this, there is grace. I am not defined by my ability to be a perfect mother or a perfect wife or a perfect employee. Just as I love my struggling son who is doggy-paddling with all his might to stay afloat in fourth grade, my Heavenly Father loves me as I tread the water in my life right now. And just as I am doing my best to hold my boy up, keeping his head above water, my Father’s strong hands are holding me. And He never lets go.
He loves me when my lists and charts keep the household running smoothly and when I speak in a sweet voice to my children and when I alleviate my husband’s stress. And He loves me just as much when my hampers are overflowing and the dishes are half-clean, when my tone of voice is too harsh and my patience too thin, when the to-do list is only half-done and my husband has to wash his own laundry for a trip.
I am loved and accepted just as I am — flatsurfaceitis and all! And my God promises that His grace is sufficient. When I am inadequate, He is adequate. When I am out of answers, He is all-knowing. When I am out of strength, He is all-powerful. When I am not enough, His grace is enough.
It’s been one of those weeks. I’m so glad my worth isn’t dependent on my weekly performance review!