This was from the other night. The stars were twinkling and airplanes soaring above us. My boys and I admired our scenery and chatted as I pushed our big Bob Duallie up the hills of our neighborhood in a last minute need to get out of the house, which I had just scrubbed for a friend coming for dinner, and knew could be another disaster in a matter of minutes if we stayed in.
Jason is wrapping up his first busy season at his firm in one month.
For the un-Big Four initiated, busy season entails 65-70 hour work weeks from Sept to February, relentless loads, last minute travel, and pushing through viruses because you just can’t take time off. It has been common for Jason’s only sight of the boys Monday through Friday to be of their sleeping faces when he goes in to kiss them.
It has been hard on our family, but it has also taught us a lot. It has really blessed our marriage for me to watch him push through burnout to do more than he would’ve thought he could, both for his managers and for us.
He gets up at 5:30 these days so he has time to drink his coffee and pray with the Magnificat; then he makes his own lunch to save us money and empties the dishwasher for me before I wake up, and he is out the door by 7:15.
He was never able to make lunches consistently before. He hated staying in to eat at his desk and he was kind of picky; and he never could discipline himself to remember to make them. I made them for him last fall, but its been a little much to do that in the third trimester. And he hasn’t missed a day! Except for when I dropped the ball and forgot to stock up on supplies.
We have all had to dig deeper and be resourceful to find healthy ways of coping with this tough season. A verse I am claiming is Matthew 11:28-30.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
If the burden feels unbearable, I figure either I am not letting God help me, or I am shouldering things He is not asking of me. Like Martha in the old iconic gospel story that every Christian mother is haunted by. That’s not to say I expect or feel like there is no burden! Its simply that… its the kind of burden that pushes you just enough to get to a second wind. Its the kind of burden that makes you feel better and stronger and humbled yet happy. And it brings you closer to Him, closer to peace. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
Burdens that are given in love and carried in love can never feel too heavy.
The hardest part is getting to 5 o’clock and knowing you have to push through dinner, bath and bedtime with two rambunctious or “fighty” boys (Will’s perfect expression) by yourself til 8. And push through it again and again and again all week and sometimes on Saturdays. But the graces have been palpable. Some recent examples… One particularly long week, I was given the grace to push through that time of day when the couch turns seductively irresistible (the coming home from preschool and putting Henry down for his nap time) to make dinner in the crockpot; then when Henry woke up at 4, we were able to clean up the house, go to the library at 5 when it was dark and peaceful and no one else was there, and the three of us just hung out til 6:30; and we came home with new whale books for Will, to the smells of a good dinner and a clean kitchen, and everyone went to bed happy. It could have been a depressing evening at home; instead it was a sweet memory.
I was given the grace of a good friend whose husband was also working last Saturday, who readily agreed to meet me at our church to take turns holding her baby and going to confession – while our mutual single girl friend watched our older kids at the preschool playground (I am praying for her richly deserved reward of a good husband). And then, our souls all squeaky clean, we headed over to the nearest park to play til it got cold and darker and most of all too tantrumy.
And then there are hidden sneaky graces, like the last minute decisions to pile the boys in the stroller and go for a wintry evening walk. I was surprised by the crystal clear sky and the shooting planes above. I am still enough in the dreamers stage of life that I can happily imagine someday flying up there, off on adventures with my family, without feeling discontent in the here and now. The little boys were unusually happy with the walk, and Will zoomed next to me on his little strider bike for half of it, and I just found myself thinking – “Thank you Lord.” And then I took that picture at the top, when we were almost home, because I wanted to remember that moment.
I hope I don’t sound self-congratulatory or boasty. I have had my share of couch and TV days… of days we are in our pajamas til 1… of last minute fast food dinners cause I couldn’t get to the store… but they weren’t too bad. The tiredest and most disappointing of them also generally happened to be the days that the boys were extra funny and sweet. And, as we are pushing through what I think is the last hardest month of Busy Season, I look back and am overwhelmed by mostly seeing the small, ordinary moments that turned out to be gifts from God, ways that he gave Jason and I rest when we most needed it.