I always love looking through my social media feeds and seeing the cherubic pictures of my friends children as they are getting ready to head out for the first day of school. It’s so fun to see how the kids have grown over the summer and see the look of dread or anticipation on each of their faces. It looks like a perfect day coming right up!
For eighteen years I have worked hard to create that picture perfect First Day of School; I mean going out so that it is Norman Rockwell perfect.
But, the truth is, our first day of school was anything but sweet and charming and picture perfect.
The chaos inadvertently started the first of the month when Audley & I left the first for vacation to celebrate our 20th anniversary, not returning until the 10th. Then we spent the next four days getting MacKenzie packed up for college; spending the weekend in Columbia getting her settled. Then, yesterday, as we were sitting at Freshman Convocation at USC, it hit me.
“The first day of school for Madeline and Bradley is tomorrow.”
THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL IS TOMORROW!
I had not bought hardly any school supplies or food for their lunches.
There was nothing for special breakfast.
And no one had a clue to what they might wear.
Let me tell you, I’m on the ball with this mothering thing right now. The stress, guilt and frustrations started swelling up inside me.
So at 11:00 last night I was removing meat from a rotisserie chicken that we picked up at the Publix deli on our way home and whipping up our favorite chicken salad, instead of getting some much needed sleep in the bed with my husband who was leaving town for business today.
And special breakfast this morning?
Out of a box.
Mixed with water.
I did add fresh blueberries though.
And we used sugar-free syrup.
You may ask why I would write such a harried post showcasing what I feel are my horrible mothering skills at the moment, but the truth is we don’t live picture perfect lives. Norman Rockwell was an artist of an idyllic life that doesn’t exist (except maybe in 2-minute increments). Behind those smiling cherubic faces are teenagers who five minutes before were screaming at each other and fussing at me because I wasn’t making the right things happen fast enough.
I was feeling a wee bit like a pressure cooker thinking I might blow at any moment this morning, but I kept thinking of ways to ease the pressure so that I wouldn’t say or do something to hurt my kids.
I was reminded of Ephesians 6:4 where the Bible says “Fathers do not provoke your child to wrath.” That applies to mothers just as much. We were all irritated and frustrated this morning and the blame for that was squarely on me. I did not prepare and plan (and it didn’t have to be elaborate planning) like I normally do and it left us without an organized plan for starting off our school year on the right foot.
The thing was, all those little things I wanted to make the day perfect were really not important, but they were stressing me out, which in turn was making for a stressful household.
The kids could have bought their lunches today and I could have grabbed a box of cereal. How the rest of this day and possibly this week hinged on how I handed myself this morning. So, I said a little prayer, turned on some praise music and changed my own attitude and soon the kids were off to school in one piece without me losing my temper and making things worse.
“Happy are all who honor the Lord with fear, and who walk in His ways. For you will eat the fruit of your hands. You will be happy and it will be well with you.” Psalm 128:1-2
Sometimes we just have to go with the flow, change our focus and do little things to fix the problems and stresses of life we inflict upon ourselves. Mother’s are to be a blessing to their children, not drive them towards anger and an ill temper. We have a wonderful role that has been gifted us. It often requires multi-taking and organizing, but at the end of the day the way our kids and especially our teenagers act mirrors our own actions. I want to build a home that is a beautiful product of my actions, time, focus, and love.
“By wisdom a house is built and by understanding it is established” Proverbs 24:3
Motherhood isn’t about the big breakfast or the perfect school lunch, it’s about the love and teaching moments that direct our kids on a path to a blessed eternity in heaven.
“The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1
Life isn’t perfect by any means, but we can make it so much more enjoyable when we quit focusing on the trivial and focus more on loving each other.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7