I really don’t have time to sit and just read, to sit and doodle in my bullet journal.
I don’t have time to read just for pleasure…even if I come across things like this from Madeleine L’Engle:
“If I am to be constant in loving and honoring my mother I must not lose sight of ‘ousia’. It’s a good word; it’s my new word. Last summer my word was ‘ontology’: the word about being. This summer I need to go a step further, to ‘ousia’, the essence of being, to that which is really real….
…I learn slowly, and always the hard way. Trying to be what I am not, and cannot be, is not only arrogant, it is stupid…
“I’m much more use to family and friends when I’m not physically and spiritually depleted than when I spend my energies as though they were unlimited. They are not. The time at the typewriter (!) and the time at the brook refresh me and put me into a more workable perspective.”
I have been attempting to write this blog post for about two weeks.
I’ve actually lost track of time a bit…the last few weeks have just been a flurry of activity. I had pictured homeschool life as one of tranquility, with morning lessons on the couch, possibly with a fire in the fireplace. Children blissfully passing our book around and reading allowed, to the rapt attention of their siblings.
Ok, maybe I never went quite that far. But I really did think that it would be a peaceful existence. There would be less demands than a “regular” school life. Last year we put our house on the market in December and moved in January. That was not conducive to peaceful schooling. This year, I am just deeply aware of the errands and the busyness.
My homeschool life feels a bit more like holding on to the tail of the tiger and hoping he doesn’t catch me. It has been chaotic and unpredictable. One child is working 15+ hours a week, but he doesn’t drive. One child has twice weekly soccer practices, while another has as many or more hockey practices. I have physical therapy appointments at least twice a week trying to manage a new onslaught of headaches. Annoying. Then there are Tutorials and church and ….
I caught a friend the other day as we walked in to Tutorial for our younger kids and gave her a hard time for not responding to a text. She confessed to just being overwhelmed. And we connected in that moment…we all are feeling it a bit.
Life is busy.
I have a tendency to think…”next week, I’ll find the rhythm. Next week I will be more organized and more on top of things.” Before I know it, next week has come and gone and looked a lot like last week.
Dishes take awhile to get cleaned, and the laundry will forever be my nemesis.
The kids are helping more, and that is good.
But there is a feeling of inadequacy that sneaks in on me, and I have a feeling it sneaks in on a lot of us. We see the good our friends put out there…they look put together and cheerful, and the anxiety that is just under the surface for us begins to come more forward. Our failures that morning are more glaring.
So…my answer is to go and drink good coffee, listen to good music, and doodle in my bullet journal. Pretending it is all put together with a nice flourish? Nah…but the sanity that comes to me in these few hours a week bring a peace to my chaos.
The above quote from L’Engle comes from her book The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, which is her final journey with her mom and their experience of Alzheimer’s / Dementia. This is one of my favorite books, part of the Crosswicks Journals. Find them and read them.
Preferably over coffee and with time taken away from demanding things.
We have to find who we are called to be, and we have to find a way to be comfortable in our skins and in our callings. And right now my calling includes laundry and dirty dishes and driving all around town in unpredicatable schedules. Right now my calling is being the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, or even is able to use language. Right now my ousia is being that daughter from a distance, and that is difficult…but it is also being a mother myself, and that is surprisingly a blessing.
It is a blessing when I protect that core of ousia. These coffee breaks are not frivolous. They are life-sustaining. They are moments my brain is allowed to work the way it did before homeschool…and it informs how I homeschool. These moments give the space to feel what it is to be the daughter of a mother who no longer remembers, and to value all the more the memories I hold dear. They allow the space to write about those memories, maybe in a protest for the memories Mom no longer can share.
That is part of this. The pace of life is frantic, and that does not leave room for truly being, and for remembering. There is a discipline to remembering. There is a discipline to just being. And when we make space to read those who are living well, we read things like this:
“My memory of Mother, which is the fullest memory of anybody living, is only fragmentary. I would like to believe that the creator I call God still remembers all of my mother, knows and cares for the ousia of her, and is still teaching her, and helping her to grow into the self he created her to be, her integrated, whole, redeemed self.”
If you are feeling fragmented and frantic and out of sorts today, know this…so am I. So are a lot of us. So take a breath, and remember that we do not walk this life in some demand for perfection on our own skills. We walk this life in an experience of growing and knowing in the care of a Creator who knows who we are. He knows who he is forming us to be, and how it all works together.
So relax. Be prepared, and live with the best ability…but in the freedom that God is involved in all of it. That we have a core of identity we operate from well. Be still and know…know who God is and know who you are in Him. Take a breath. Doodle a bullet journal. Read something that truly speaks to you and makes your brain come to life.
Then go wash those dishes with a bit more twinkle in your eye and joy in spirit. And maybe invite that friend out for coffee who seems the most overwhelmed…and remind them of all of this as well. (And while we are all trying not to be perfectionists…note that I misspelled September in my glorious Bullet Journal above!)