I love, love, loved seeing everyone’s Back-to-School posts on facebook today! As a parent, I get a kick out of seeing everyone else’s first day and their takes on what that looks like in their families. I’ve found that people basically fall into two groups: those with perfect first day of school pics– smiling, happy kids, professionally made “First day of ______ grade” signs, finely sculpted hair– and then there’s the rest of us.
The defense would like to offer Exhibit A to the court.
Aside from the goofy grin on that boy, I’m just proud that I got the thing taken. Working moms all over understand me when I say first days back are simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. It’s an old-fashioned tug-of-war between parenting and bringing home the bacon. Well, I am a teacher after all. In my case, bringing home the spam. Or Vienna sausages.
Any questionable carnivorous fare would suffice for that metaphor.
Accepting my position as a working mom was more difficult than ever to swallow this year. My heart’s desire has always been to make my family my main ministry. Here’s the way I see it: I have to do right by my family no matter what. No matter where I’m teaching or where I’m working, my primary responsibility is to raise my children to know God and to spiritually, emotionally, and physically support my husband. If it were up to me, I would just make that my focus then. Because either way, it’s got to be done. But you know how it goes…
Caviar dreams on a beer budget.
But we don’t drink beer.
So an iced tea budget.
I have loved teaching for ten years and I have loved raising my family for more than six. And even though it seems like I’ve had all the time in the world to figure this thing out and find a nice, neat balance to work and family life, I’ll admit that it’s just now coming together for me.
And it all has to do with acceptance.
This year as the usual back-to-work panic sank in, I felt the Almighty speaking to my heart. “This is your story.” As much as I’ve wanted… and TRIED AND TRIED AND TRIED… to fight it, I’m learning that my story is a unique one that He wants to share. Why? I have no idea! I’ve said many times before I love my life, but it’s never smooth. I’m a textbook example of what NOT to do! I wish I was a SAHM instead of rushing the kids every morning because I chose to hit the snooze a second time and now I’m not fully dressed and mentally ready to go when I wake the Under 7 set, I wish I could spend more time with my kids outside of the transitions of going and coming during the week, I wish I didn’t sometimes forget to make sure my middle son has BOTH shoes on his bony little feet and underwear underneath those flappy shorts when we leave for Pre-K, I wish the laundry and dishes wouldn’t pile up faster than I can tear them down, I wish I had time to work out. Wait, I lie. To be honest, I’m kinda glad to excuse that one. I teach 8th graders; I chase my own three kids. I’m totally qualifying that as cardio.
The bottom line is this: I could wish all day until I’m blue in the face. But right now that’s not my calling. God has called me to be this story. A teacher. A mom. An occasional blogger, sharing my faith. A wife of a coach (It’s a lot like being married, just without the expectation of seeing your spouse before June. “Hi, I’m Martha. Have we met?”) That picture-perfect life I’ve imagined is someone else’s story, not mine. Maybe I’ll own it someday. But today, I’m learning to own this one. I have no idea what He has in store, but I am confident it’s more than I ever would have imagined for myself anyway.
God be glorified in my hot-mess of a busy, working life.
And if you run into me this week and catch my four-year-old sporting one tennis shoe and one sock, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m fulfilling my calling by living the story I was called to live.
Besides, the bigger issue at hand is whether or not he’s going commando.