I woke up today feeling the weight of the week ahead. Of course there’s the usual Monday stuff, get the school work going and dive back into the weekday rhythm and prep for Tuesdays which we spend as part of a homeschool community. But today’s Monday morning included the added details of preparing for a road trip. For the seven of us. Leaving tomorrow.
I drank my coffee slowly, kids wandering in and out of the kitchen. I estimated how much clothes will need (laundry was mostly caught up- miracle of miracles!), texted my mother-in-law to ask about the weather, and ran the logistics in my mind of this phase of baby travel. Somewhere a number popped up. 42.
42. I thought.Disbelieving.
42. Shaking my head.
Forty. Gulp. Two.
This is not the number of hours we’ll be in the car (just nine. Phew.) This isn’t the number of Christmas gifts I needed to buy. No, 42 is the number of pairs of socks it will take to cover the feet of seven people for six days.
And then I curled up into a ball on the couch, sobbing.
No. Not really.
Then I added a little something something to my coffee and kept going.
I actually downed the end of my first cup, poured a new one, and texted my friend the news of this reality.
You guys, it is moments like these, moments when the reality of having a big family is just so LOGISTICAL, that I seriously doubt my ability to do this.
You see, this managing lots of people thing is not me. I’m not a “details person”. I make lists and promptly lose them. The hows and the whens and the times in my head are always a bit sketchy. I went from having a messy room as a kid to a messy dorm room to a messy minivan. This is the evolution of my life, only now I am responsible for the care, feeding, and education of five children. And they all need socks.
What’s with this sock fixation? you ask. In this phase of my life, socks seem to be symbolic for the basic, not complicated but completely impossible details that I can’t quite stay on top of. How does everyone else do this? Where are my children hiding them all? What do you mean you’re out of socks when I mated fifty-seven pairs on Saturday night?????
I say it jokingly, but there really was a moment of doubt that hung heavy in the air this morning. For a second I felt that not enough feeling, like maybe God was having second thoughts about this “mom of lots of kids” plan, too. My eyes welled up a bit and I thought of all the ways that I’m not cut out for this.
I lose things constantly (like homework, library books, important mail, or the garage keys.)
I like to be spontaneous (it takes us thirty minutes to get out the door, and that’s if the sock problem is…never mind.)
I don’t like conflict (hello, five children.)
I’m a feeler and other people’s emotions wear me out (hello, five children.)
I can be indecisive…sometimes…I think.
The list goes on. For days. And suddenly I’m staring my own life in the face and wondering if I should place a want ad to replace me.
But then, in a moment of inspiration, I did a good thing: I moved on. I shrugged off that list and pushed it aside (that’s where the “losing lists” talent comes in handy). I corralled the kids and got school work moving. I changed the laundry over. I gave a joyful cry when my mother-in-law texted that there was no need for snow gear (are you kidding me? Snow gear for five children? I would need divine intervention to find it all and a U-haul to fit it.) I kept sipping the coffee and thought through the morning and put the baby down for a nap.
Because guess what? This is it. This is me. Ready or not, today is coming, and I find that I am usually more up to the challenge of my life than I think. Because there’s something else that was true about both the messy room and the dorm room of my past- I was happiest when my space was full of people. And that hasn’t changed a bit.
So I’ll pack up this crumb scattered Honda and head off for a holiday trip with the people I love. I will sing to the radio and read to my husband and shout to the sticky crowd in the backset that I am about to lose my everloving mind if they don’t stop arguing. I’ll forget things at home and I’ll forget where I packed a few things and I’ll probably forget to mail something before I go. And that is all ok, because there is a glorious freedom that comes when you stop measuring yourself and start celebrating the life that you have. I am hopelessly flawed; I am also hopefully present.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe you’re a peacemaker working in an office that feels like a warzone. Maybe you’re an introvert home with noisy littles. Maybe you’re an artist who’s crunching numbers or a born innovator who’s stuck in a rigid system. Maybe you have stories piling up in your head while you spend your loose moments in search of rogue socks (hypothetically speaking, of course.)
I get it. I really do. But the thing about your job, your calling, your day ahead- it’s yours. And while there’s an incredibly special feeling in doing something you feel made to do, there’s also the everyday goodness in trusting Christ and digging in to this thing that He’s given you to do right now. Maybe not forever or for all time, and goodness knows “this too shall pass”, but for today, you have this thing in front of you. Are there parts of it you aren’t good at? Probably. But that doesn’t make you less than; it makes you human. And stepping into it with joy makes you courageous.
So today, may you find ways to be thankful in the midst of your mess. Or your highly organized, alphabetized, and neatly labelled situation. Whichever. 😉
Happy Thanksgiving, friends.