Funny Feels Good When You’re Feeling Under the Weather

I’m home sick today.

It’s just a little too quiet in this house.

And though I’ve wished for just a minute’s peace for weeks, I’m over it now. My love language is quality time and I feel like I’m losing precious moments with my man and my “babies” this weekend. Oh well, the grass will always be greener… Come Monday morning, I know I will curse my Saturday self while I hustle an uncooperative crew out the door. 6:45: you come SO EARLY!

But for now, I am the only one home; I quarantined myself under the pretense that the under 8 set won’t succumb to the myriad of bizarre illnesses I’ve experienced this week.

When I don’t feel well, I run a gamut of emotions: sappy with all the quiet time to reflect, silly when I get tired of reflecting, and usually serious as I make a mental to-do list of all the things that will need to be put back in order once the captain is well enough to man the ship again. The lurking to-do list feels overwhelming at the moment, so I think I’ll hunker down with Silly for the rest of the afternoon.

I’ll share a few of our laugh out loud moments before I watch “Mom’s Night Out” again. (I’ve never stopped to check who wrote that movie, but she SO speaks my language! And yes, I’m convinced it’s a she.)

Okay, true story.

For my first son’s 2nd birthday, I spent weeks and weeks, probably months, thinking about how I could make that day special. We were on a TIGHT budget (see how I worked those caps there? We’re talking TI-I-I-IGHT), so thank goodness he was young enough that homemade construction paper decorations and lots of high-pitched “You’re 2 now!”s sufficed. I made the cake myself– a ridiculous looking fire truck, and I use the term “fire truck” loosely.  The DIY instructions I found online that swore this cake could easily be made from a regular sheet cake evidently assumed I’d be starting with basic baking skills under my belt. Well, that was just silly. You know what happens when you assume… . I wish I could show you the picture of that cake so you could laugh with me, but I lost it when my phone went for a swim.  And unfortunately, I’ve relied on that exact same line two other times as well. It’s like my phones are predisposed to suffer a watery death. I like to blame Fate; my husband likes to blame me.

To-may-to. To-mah-to.

Anyway, fast forward about six years. My third son is getting ready to turn two. Two is a fun birthday in my book. It’s the mark of the age when he can first appreciate everyone singing to him, and he almost has enough fine motor skills to open some presents by himself. Although we all know, the problem with a two-year-old is that he really only opens the first present. Then he spends the rest of the party playing with it, while you sheepishly open all the other gifts yourself, over-emphasizing to the gift-giver how much you know he’ll love it and how you’ll have to pry him away from it at bedtime. All the while, they’re covertly giving the stink eye to the lucky first gift-giver. They’re making a mental list of all the things they would have preferred to spend $20 on.

As excited as I was about #3 turning two, I realized abruptly that I was more excited about the idea of him turning two. Suddenly, two days before his big day, I realized I hadn’t actually planned anything yet. What’s worse, it was still several days away. A lot can happen in several days.

My Facebook post from that day: “#3’s second birthday is this week, and I just set a reminder on my phone so I don’t miss it.”

Third Child Syndrome. It’s a real thing.

Okay, so here’s another one.

If if we agree on the validity of TCS, then I can’t overlook its cousin: Middle Child Syndrome. Bless my middle son’s heart, all he ever wants is to feel heard. And we fail him, frequently.

Case in point…

Scene: early morning, getting one boy ready for first grade, the middle one ready for pre-school, making an unexpected and last-minute diaper change for the baby, and attempting the clean-and-switch with rim-rod straight arms to keep the stank afar and my work clothes clean.

#2 comes running into the room. “Mom, is this white stuff the toothpaste?”

I don’t look up. One wrong move and this blouse is toast. But I need him to hurry, as usual. So I rush him like always: “Yes! Now, you have one minute to brush your teeth and get back in here, or no books tonight!” (Ugh! Did I just say that?!? I hate when my morning-panic voice takes over!)

Several minutes later, he finally returns. I knew he wouldn’t make it. He probably hasn’t even brushed yet. But I’m positive he had plenty of time to fight two, maybe three, imaginary bad guys as he came back down the hall. Typical.

“Mom, you need to go to the store.” I finally give him my attention by looking directly at him. He’s clutching a tube of Desitin. “That toothpaste is yucky.”

Oh, dear.

Middle Child Syndrome. It’s a real thing too.

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Just in case I’m not the only one who struggles with leaving my family to tend to my job

Y’all, summer is officially over!

And I wasn’t ready to say good-bye!

We teachers are going back to work, busily preparing to meet all of our new favorite students, and wrapping up our last family hoorahs until next summer.

Every year, I have a really (and I mean REALLY) hard time saying goodbye to my time with my family. As much as I love teaching, my first profession of choice would be stay-at-home mom. I don’t know why I’m surprised every year when this time rolls around, and I panic inside at the thought of giving up this SAHM stint for another school year. So what if the thought of reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar one more time to my toddler leads to a strong bout of nausea? So what if my older boys’ incessant bickering make me censor a stream of expletives creeping to the tip of my tongue? So what if after two months of summer practice, my husband still doesn’t understand that his role during dinner-making hour is to entertain the kids and keep them out of the blessed kitchen? These are my people. And I love to take care of them! True to my nature, I’m presently in the woes of leaving behind my favorite profession and switching roles to the one that pays the bills. Luckily, I enjoy my teaching career and want to be successful at it, but still…

This week, I’ve allowed my grief to become bigger than it should. As a result, I felt more stressed out and less excited than I should be.

Prayerfully, my attitude is starting to look up. I’ve been blessed this school year already, and I want to keep my focus on the Big Picture. I’m re-posting part of one of my previous blogs, mostly because I need time to study it again… Life is 10% what happens to us, 90% how we react to it. I don’t need to let things boil to the point they have this week because the God I serve defies human timelines. He does not freak out and overreact in different situations. He is constant. He cares about me. And it will all be OKAY.

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[from The 90/10 Rule]

They say life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

You know what I love about scripture? It’s that when I become aware of my shortcomings, I can always find someone in the Bible who’s already been there, done that. The precedent has already been set. Thank goodness for me, my only personal downfalls that appear in print are the ones I’ve chosen to post myself! Ever read parts of the Bible and thought, “Oh man! How embarrassing!” At the least, my blunders aren’t in print for, like, eternity in, like, the best-selling book of all time.

Think about Jesus’ good friends Mary, Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Jesus learns that his buddy Lazarus is seriously ill, and his reaction to his friend’s imminent death is one that has been studied by scholars and theologians ever since. Instead of rushing to Lazarus’ side in Bethany to heal him with divine authority (which he can totally do!), Jesus hangs out where he is for two more days before beginning the journey (which is totally unpredictable! No way Mary and Martha see that one coming).

*** This story is found in John 11, and on a side note this is one of my favorite chapters of all scripture. It’s basically oozing with divine sarcasm. It’s hilarious!***

Naturally, when he finally arrives, Jesus is greeted by the two frustrated sisters who expected him to come quickly and save their brother before he kicked the can. “Lord,” Martha says. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). To which Jesus firmly reminds her (I like to picture him rolling his eyes): “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40).

And though Lazarus has been dead in the tomb for four days, Jesus calls to him to come out. And out walks a living, breathing Lazarus, still wrapped in his grave cloths.

When Mary and Martha sent for Jesus, they were stuck focusing on the situation directly in front of them. Their brother was dying! They could easily justify the urgency to reach Jesus. Nonetheless, they made the mistake of acting situationally. Mary’s and Martha’s actions were driven by their response to what was happening in that one moment. They didn’t yet understand the big picture the Lord was trying to teach them, that in Christ death does not ultimately consume us. As Rick Warren wrote, “Jesus waited until the situation was humanly impossible and then He brought the miracle.”

I don’t want to forget that God sees the Big Picture. Time isn’t really a thing with God. My dear mother-in-law has reminded me on occasion that He doesn’t follow a linear timeline. He is the God who Is, and Was, and Is To Come.  He’s in the past, holding up our present, and controlling the future all at once. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).

Thank goodness God isn’t situational! He is constant and consistent. He never just sees us where we are. He sees how He made us and where we’re headed. We don’t have to be caught up in our present, creating unnecessary stress for ourselves. No matter how busy or jumbled or messed up we feel like we’ve made things, our God still sees the Big Picture for us.

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School is starting soon. I’m going to miss my time with my “babies.” But God knows what He’s doing. He’s brought me to this place, to this profession, with these students and colleagues, with purpose in mind. I’m going to choose to trust His Big Picture. He’ll tend to my heart, leaving me to tend to His work in such a time as this.

Kumbaya and all that other crap

I’m a facebook junkie.

I am.

I feel no shame in admitting it.facebook_logo_detail

Like any other social media outlet, facebook has its advantages, disadvantages, and at some point people who will use it for purposes of exploitation. This week especially though, I appreciate it. Several heartfelt posts I read recently prompted some incredibly meaningful conversations– like real ones, face-to-face discussions, not just cryptic messages left in the comments of the post.

I find it interesting to note the overriding sentiment behind the posts I’ve read lately. What I keep hearing these days is that people want to know they are in like company. The posts catching my attention feel a lot like distress calls. Apparently people, present company included, want to know they’re not alone, that they’re not the only ones experiencing struggles or battles or frustrations, no matter if the situations are serious or so inconsequential the whole thing becomes hilarious. Regardless, the resounding cry seems to be “IS THERE ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE WHO UNDERSTANDS WHAT I’M GOING THROUGH?”

Each time I’ve read between the lines– “DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL THE SAME WAY?– there have been, of course, many people who reached out with encouraging words or funny anecdotes to showcase their own weaknesses. And I love how all of a sudden facebook has become a new way to minister to people looking for assurance.

I’ve responded with similar words online before, but twice just today, I reminded a couple of dear friends, “You are not alone.”

It all started with this chick’s blog– Lisa Jo Baker apparently. Never heard of her before last night. But she wrote an AMAZING and UPLIFTING piece titled “Grace for the working mother and her guilt” and I caught a glimpse of it on a friend’s facebook wall.  Well, shoot, down here in the ‘suthin parts like Texas, all us lil’ ole’ teachers were gearing up to go back to work this morning after enjoying our two week Christmas break. This is Texas, the tip of the Bible belt. Most of us will forever refer to this time as the Christmas Break– not the “Holiday” break. map with texasI hate to stereotype, but let’s face it. Most teachers, at least here in Texas where I’m from, are females. And most of us have families. And most of us were dealing with some pretty hefty, Texas-sized emotions as we faced the prospect of leaving our little ones and going back to work after the break. And on Sunday night, on the eve of the great slap in the face from reality that is called Monday Morning, that blog Lisa Jo wrote spread like wildfire among us teachers.

In fact, I was so moved by it that I re-read it again today. And here’s the best part, y’all: that blog, and just as importantly, the sharing of that blog through facebook, led to conversations today that I just consider priceless. Several of my friends and I were handed the opportunity to look each other in the eye and speak the words, “Oh, girl. You. Are. Not. Alone.” And I felt connected. Reassured. Encouraged. My resolve was strengthened. I still didn’t have all the answers, but I was comforted in knowing that neither did they. I was not alone.

photo credit: bangsandabun.com

photo credit: bangsandabun.com

In a world characterized by technological advances quicker than the speed of lightning, I understand the disadvantages of our plugged-in lifestyles. You’ve heard people quip how this generation is more “connected” than any other in history, and how they’re failing to make meaningful interpersonal connections despite the availability at their fingertips.

But today, I am grateful for technology.

Lisa Jo What’s-her-face understood a deep-rooted dilemma facing working mothers on a Sunday evening. She shared her sentiments on a blog. Encouraged friends and readers shared her blog on their social media pages. Several hundred (thousand?) more encouraged readers shared those social media pages. I have no idea how many hits Lisa Jo has recorded so far for this particular blog post, but I consider the whole effort worth it. She wrote words I personally needed to hear. Even more importantly, I was led to share my experience and encouragement with face-to-face friends.

And those are exactly the kind of meaningful interpersonal connections we’re working so hard to protect for the next generation.

3 Reasons Why I’m a Teacher Who Makes Excuses

teecher1. I can love and guide but I can’t replace the parents who’ve failed my students.

And on our campus, there are plenty.

2. I’m human too.

Most of the time, I feel like a symphonic conductor while I’m teaching. I face a myriad of personalities and needs. My job is to pull all of those different sounds together and blend them into a beautiful harmony of learning.

Admittedly, on some days that’s easier said than done.

I’ve got at least one emotionally disturbed student in the room. I am very limited in the way I can interact with him in order to keep him balanced and learning and not causing a huge scene that distracts the other students. And his Behavior Specialists need documentation to be able to best support him. Every major issue requires me to take a few minutes to document the incident, what led up to it, my reflections on trends that I’m noticing, etc. This kid deserves the best education we can give him; it just takes a little more work on our part to give it to him.

But there are 25-30 more kids in the room. Follow me here… 12 of them qualify as Special Ed, meaning they have a documented learning disability or other impairment. So, of those 12, four need to be given a copy of any class notes we take. 10 need “preferential seating” which basically means their desks should be as close to the teacher as possible or away from as many distractions as possible. I’ve yet to create a seating arrangement that places 10+ desks on the front row. When you figure that out, please enlighten me. Four take a shortened version of tests, 5 have the tests read aloud to them, 3 only take tests in a small group setting, some get extra time to complete work and some get shortened assignments. doctor like a teacher

The needs go on and on… The documentation goes on and on…

If that’s what my students need to be successful, then I’ll readily provide it. But do you see the juggling act it takes?

Then, take into account that I teach middle school. And there is no shortage of drama in middle school. So now, the counselor has requested that this student be separated from that student to avoid stirring up emotions and problems.

Check.

I called 5 parents this week. Three because the students have forgotten that it’s not socially or morally acceptable to curse at me when I tell them to do their work.  I’ll need to contact the same parents again next week for a follow-up. If my child we’re misbehaving in his classroom, I’d appreciate that courtesy. On a brighter note, I did call two parents to brag on how well their student is doing in class. I get tickled because they’re always so surprised to get a positive call!

But alas, that stuff takes time.

And time is to teachers what the Hope diamond is to street beggars. We’ve all heard of it. We know it exists, but we have little hope of seeing it for ourselves.

“But you have a conference period for all that stuff.”

Well, yeah, of course. I have 48 minutes in the school day to complete the necessary documentation for 3 emotionally disturbed children and 31 special ed students. To make positive and negative contacts with parents. To create lessons, find resources, make copies, set up materials, make copies of class notes for selected students, grade assignments and give useful feedback. Then grade it again after students correct it to show they’ve mastered a concept.busy_calendar

Yeah, I’ve got a conference period.

And like most other teachers, I work for an hour or so after school too and still take stuff home when I have to.

Yeah, I’m also married to a basketball coach and go to his games to support him. October to March is pretty full.

Yeah, I’ve got kids too. 3 of them. And one is very young and teething right now. Sleep is for the weak, and that explains why I’m able to blog at 3:45 in the morning.

Teachers care enough about their students to do whatever it takes to make them successful, but good grief! We only have 2 hands, one exhausted brain, and thankfully, a huge heart.

3. Paradise Lost. Where’s Milton when you need him?

We’re at a time in history when the connotation of “School” must be protected.

Schools are no longer naturally the sanctuary they used to be. Every campus has to intentionally treat itself as such. Ours does. We intentionally teach the students in our building that school is supposed to be a special place. We try to teach the kids that the way they act and speak at school should be different than how they are at home and on the street. And to teach that idea is not nearly enough. We work daily to protect it.

We teach that school is a place to feel safe, to be fed, to keep warm, to let your guard from the streets down. A place where effort and knowing the answers in class are praised and encouraged, which does NOT come naturally to middle school students. Our school is not perfect, but it is in a lot of ways the only sanctuary many of our kids will know.

All around us schools are being violated. Students shooting teachers, strangers killing students, bullying leading to student suicide. Sometimes, the world of education has more in common with Call of Duty than classics like John Milton. Unless the grown-ups on American public school campuses are willing AND ABLE to make school the sanctuary it is supposed to be, we have a crisis on our hands. Is Paradise lost? Or are we willing to do whatever it takes to sanctify our campuses?schoolhouse%202

Ironically, I teach on a campus whose motto is “No Excuses!”

In reality, I’m no different than my colleagues– I  do my absolute best  because the kids in my classroom deserve it. Still… there are times when I feel frustrated by the things that I can’t control but that are demanded of me.

But then, some 14-year-old boy in my class will slip and accidentally call me Mom when he asks me something. He blushes, I laugh hysterically, and it keeps me coming back for more.

The 25th Hour

I read something by Sheila Walsh (Women of Faith speaker) this morning that jolted me awake.

I was still lying in bed, aware of the sound of the baby stirring in the monitor, but not really cognizant enough yet to act on it. It was going take more than just a couple of “I’m awake!” wimpers from #3’s room to stir me. We’d already been up together for some quality bonding time from about 4:00- 6:00. At 8:00, I was waiting for the full-on wails and a Mack truck to lift my big bottom and get it moving. I blame it on my pillows, y’all. Oh, be still my heart… my pillows. Just the right fluff, 2 semi-flat ones (not too fluffy, not too stiff) stacked up under my head, one REALLY fluffy one beside me on the outside because even though I’m 34-years-old, the edge of the bed still freaks me out a little in the middle of the night. Now that I found a replacement housekeeper, fresh-smelling pillow cases hold me hostage. Everything was so peaceful in that groggy, don’t-make-me-open-my-eyes-yet bliss that preceded the morning routine.

So I can only blame myself for the abrupt end to such a peaceful morning start. But what can I say? My phone needed me to check it. Most days, I do a quick scroll before I get out of bed. Glance at facebook and Instagram; check email. And boo-yah! Today I landed a free e-download!  Daily Devotions for Women: 10 days of devotions by Women of Faith. Um yeah. I’ve got a few seconds to start my day by dwelling on words that I can count on to inspire me and teach me a biblical truth.

Because I like to peruse my books before I start reading them, I usually stop on some page in the middle that intrigues me and read a little there. Hopefully I force myself to a stopping place before the end so I can back up and start again at the beginning like normal readers probably do. Today, the page that caught my eye was titled “Never Off Duty.” Now, that got my attention.

I began reading this devotion by Walsh with the thought, “Finally! Someone who understands me!” I felt excited about the refreshing words that would remind me I’m not the only one who always feels “on.” It’s the kind of stuff that makes you have love affairs with your pillows and drives the average mom, who is head-over-heels in love with her children, to wait for those darlings to scream and wail from the crib before she admits it’s probably time to go get them up.

Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Not that I did that this morning.

But do you know what?

That Walsh lady did not have one single uplifting comment for me! Her tone was more like the one we’ve adopted on the campus where I teach–“Suck it up, Buttercup!”

Now, that got my attention.

But she said it best,

“It’s easy to be loving and kind for twenty-four hours to thousands of complete strangers knowing that I’ll fly home shortly. But my lifelong commitment is to my husband.”

Christ was never “off duty.” Even when he went alone to pray, to catch a few minutes rest, he welcomed interruptions and used them to teach. We’re called to love, love, love, and never stop loving because Christ loved, loved, loved, and thank goodness never stops loving.  It’s easy to come home and shut down after the kids are in bed and the nightly chores are done. It may be 8 or 9:00 (or later if there’s school work to do for us teachers), but heck, the prospect of “turning off” is what keeps me going many nights so I can make it to 8:00.

Now, my husband is a coach. So I can afford the luxury of “turning off” most nights, simply because he isn’t home to need my attention. But Walsh made me realize I’ve fallen into a dangerous trap, because I’ve let “off” become my  nightly habit. When I want to be, I am EXTREMELY committed. ha!

Wives of coaches, you understand, don’t you? When Coach is gone more than he’s home, you naturally develop your own way of doing things. And darn it if he doesn’t come home on Saturday night and you feel like your whole routine is smashed to pieces even though you’ve been pining for him to come home since Monday night!

Even if my husband isn’t home often, when he is home, Christ commands that I love him. Love on him. Make him feel loved. Open the lines of communication again. Pray over him and with him.

25th hourThe burning question remains though– how do I keep loving when I physically and spiritually (my whole body and soul y’all!) ache for the second I can feel like I’m off duty?

Prayer.

It starts with prayer.

Lord, I want to love and to give like you loved and gave.

Lord, give me what I need for right now.

For me, communication is also key.

It’s not fair to Brad that the first time he’s alerted to my problems is when I’ve escalated to panic and rage mode. Instead of blowing up on him the first night he’s able to spend time with me, or worse ignoring him because isolation is easier than arguing, I can be ready to love him. Hopefully by then, we’ve had some quick, casual conversations throughout the week and if there is a problem simmering below the surface, he’s been made aware of it. During those precious times we’re together, we can then focus on loving each other.

Not to say that a well-timed and well-meaning argument isn’t necessary from time to time. A family friend of ours answered her phone one afternoon to hear her neighbor from across the street on the line: “Can you come over and watch the kids for a few minutes? M* and I need to step outside and yell at each other.”

Ha!

Lastly, I may just have to eat my own words and suck it up, buttercup.

If I’m doing everything else: praying, communicating, finding ways to take care of my own needs (MOMS, it’s okay to make yourself a priority every now and then!), then sometimes extending love to others is just sheer sacrifice. We do it because it’s good for our relationships, but mostly it’s good for our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

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Frequently, I wish there was just one more hour in the day. Work and laundry and backpacks and lunches and bottles never end. The to-do list will never be complete, so I’m glad I’ve accepted that as a fact rather than a defeat. Because when it all comes down to it, if I were finally granted a 25th hour like I’ve always wished, I probably wouldn’t try to get another thing marked off the list anyway. I’d focus on loving…  loving that tall drink of water I married 11 years ago and those three boys who rarely let me “off duty.”

“Mama, there’s a booger stuck in my teeth!”

Life can’t prepare you for parenting. It’s the final exam, homework, lecture, and mid-term all rolled into one.

Other declarations that have taken me by surprise:

* SURPRISE, Mama! I got an ice cream sandwich for breakfast! [Gather your attack quickly.] Oh look, I have one for you too! [Well, in that case…]

* [From the bathroom] You better not come in here. You’ll be mad!   . . . . .  CANNONBAAAAAAAAAALL!

* GASP! Mama, you used to be a Princess?!?!? [note to self: remove wedding portrait from master bedroom immediately]

* Hey, Mommy. Look! I made footprints with my tee-tee!

* Mom, do you want me to put this booger in my mouth? Because I did this morning, and it was really yummy!

* Is that Jesus? [note to self: a bearded Zach Galifianakis in the movie The Hangover should not be causing this much confusion. Plus, pretty sure Jesus never strapped a baby named Carlos to his chest in a baby backpack. That’s not what he meant by “Let the little children come unto me.”]

Turned my back for 2 seconds, and that little stinker had emptied the shredder and was "cooking" on the treadmill.

Turned my back for 2 seconds, and that little stinker had emptied the shredder and was “cooking” on the treadmill.

And while we’re at it… Things I Never Thought My Adult Self Would Say Out Loud

* Please don’t lick me when you hug me.

* Yes, you have to flush your poop. No, we’re not saving it.

* If you make me late to work this morning, I’m going to call Santa and tell him to forget Christmas!

* If you aim that sword at your brother one more time, I’m going to call Santa and tell him…

* If you whine about your spelling list again, I’m going to call Santa…

* NO! The tooth fairy would NEVER forget about you! She’s so clever! She’s playing with you. Now, think about a place in the house where she knows you’ll be able to find your tooth money. Somewhere you go every morning.   …the kitchen counter? YES! I bet it’s still there.

* Please don’t lick my leg again.

*No, I don’t think the baby likes wedgies.

Caviar dreams on an iced tea budget

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.

Ole' boy cannot fake a natural-looking smile to save his life. And I didn't think he needed a hair cut until I critiqued him here.

Ole’ boy cannot fake a natural-looking smile to save his life.

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.