What to do when School Starts

As I write this it’s almost Labor day, and I’ve been thinking a lot about you Moms with kids of every age starting back to school – thinking about transitions and All Of The Feelings.

It’s the end of August and I’m “up north”.  This is my view.

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Don’t hate me, but I can breathe deep and enjoy this lake air (and the mocha John just brought me, thank you very much) without being interrupted by an 8 year old who wants to play UNO. or a 12 year old who wants me to take them on a jet-ski, or a toddler who can’t find his Thomas the Tank pez dispenser (and all the drama that comes with).

I love this season of life and the freedom it gives me, don’t get me wrong.  But this – this time of transition from Summer to Fall is also a time of grieving for me.  I miss the back-to-school shopping and the exciting beginning of all of the THINGS for the new year.  I miss “bouquets of newly-sharpened pencils”, the season of hands-on parenting with all the family traditions and night time prayers and snuggled up in jammies story reading.  I miss our first day of school chicken pot pie dinner, and I miss the annual measuring of our girls.

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Moms I know you.  I’ve been you.  Most of you are a little schizophrenic at this point.  You tackled summer with gusto, doing the strawberry picking and the zoo visits and fishing pole baiting memory-making, but you’re just so over summer now.  You’re ready to take a break from your role as Camp Director of all the Fun Outings in the Universe.

You’re thrilled about taking the FIRST DAY pictures, making the special FIRST DAY breakfast, and walking the kids to the bus stop.

But then??  Then, you’re all about running inside, collapsing back against the door of your house and exhaling with a “Praise Jesus I’ve made it through another summer without inflicting bodily harm on my kids (bless their hearts)!”  There may even be a little Hallelujah-Chorus-humming going on (don’t deny it).

That’s good!  You’re doing great.  You really are.  And you should celebrate!

I get it.  I’ve been there.  But can I make a little suggestion?  A tweak to your celebration?

Sometime today when the kids are out the door to pre-school or high school or college, (or their job because the empty nest may be a myth), take a minute in the stillness after the “get ’em out the door storm” and look around you.  Even walk through your quiet house. Look for signs of growth in your kids and in your family.  And thank God.  

Maybe it’s a picture of one of your kids learning to horseback ride on a family vacation, or the first chapter book your grade-schooler read this summer, or a Scripture verse you memorized.  Take time to mark the moment.

In our hurry up culture we may FB post it or Instagram or Tweet a moment, but I wonder how often we truly sit in an experience with thanksgiving.

You’ve been faithful to show up and nurture your tribe of yahoos all summer and they’ve grown.  So have you.

God has been faithful to show up and equip you and grow the whole lot of you.

Well done!

“He who began a good work in you (and your kids) will be faithful to complete it” through every season.

So maybe a little “Yay God!” party at the dinner table?  Perhaps ask each person to share a way that they feel they’ve grown this summer.

Are your kids back in school?  How are you feeling during this season?  What do you do to mark the transition?

 

The Biggest Parenting Mistake You Can Make

This is my friend, Sherrie.  Not the bald one.  The beautiful one in the bed who still looks like she’s in her 20’s.  She and Rick have three delightful grown and almost-grown daughters. We raised our kids together with other Jesus-following parents who were all anxious about getting it “right”.

Last year around the time Sherrie’s eldest daughter was getting married she began to think she might be going through menopause.

Nope.

 Meet Jolie Layne Byron.  Born April 23, 2012.

I went to a shower for this new little one and we got to talking about our experiences with our “first round” of kids.  I started thinking…If I had it to do over again, what would I do differently?  What mistakes did I make?  What mistakes didn’t I make?!

There are the “little” things people might point to like the time I let Maggie wear her sandals to church.  It was 30 degrees, but I figure you gotta pick your battles.

Or, Katy might point out how in grade school she was scarred for life when she was home sick and I let her watch “Wait Until Dark” while I ran to the grocery store.

I could also throw John under the bus and mention the time he gave Maggie Ipecac in the middle of the night thinking it was cough syrup.

Times when I was too controlling and times when I was too permissive.  So many possibilities, so little time!!

I sent our daughters, 24 and 26, an email and asked them to weigh in.  I know they could give a list of things they wish we had done differently, but they were both feeling gracious I guess, because they only sent what they appreciated about our parenting.

It made me think of something that happened when the girls were in grade school and we were coming home from a vacation in Florida at a time we had had to pull them out of school.

They’re both really good students but keeping up with homework when there’s a beach beckoning is tough.  In spite of our reminders, Katy had not done the work she was supposed to do.  John, frustrated, said, “Katy!  Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t punish you!”

She didn’t miss a beat.  “Because you’re always telling us it’s all about Grace, Grace and more GRACE!!”

Maybe the biggest mistake we can make is to forget about grace.

I think of all the ways I’ve messed up and, I think of my heavenly parent.  I’m His reckless, well-meaning toddler, crashing into things and tripping over my toes.  I’m overwhelmed by a God who picks me up and dusts me off, and sets me back on my feet with the power to redeem my mistakes, turn me around and point me in the right direction.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9

Might you leave a comment today about what did your parents did right?  

Or a mistake you’ve made that you saw redeemed by God?