Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
There is a rhythm, a habit to how my Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays flow through the school year. I drop all three of the children off at school in the morning (Graham only attends M, T, W), just before 8:00 AM. Of course, before that time is the flurry of getting dressed, getting breakfasted, getting lunches packed, getting teeth brushed, getting hair brushed, getting backpacks, getting lunches IN backpacks, getting coats on, getting shoes on, getting in the van, and getting seatbelts buckled. By the time the van is backing out of the garage, let me tell you, it’s a relief. We all relax.
But I REALLY relax once the van door slides shut and I’ve bid them all the sudden heart-wrenched, soul-tugging good-bye of mothers leaving their children at school. It’s love and well wishes and a view of their beautiful faces mixed with the smallest pinch of fear. I find my groove once I drive away, settling into the silence, then choosing what I would like to listen to on the radio at the volume of which I would care to listen to it.
By the time I arrive back in my driveway, sometimes I have the strong desire just to sit in the car, surfing my phone. Even going inside seems tiring. But I usually do indeed go in, proud of myself for this herculean effort, and grab a blanket, what remains of my coffee, my phone, maybe a book. I sit in the living room, wrapped in a blanket, wrapped in quiet, until I am hungry enough to make a simple breakfast. I eat my simple breakfast while reading a book. I read my book until I am energized enough to do some laundry. I often feel like listening to some music while I strip sheets or put away clothes or gather piles of dirty laundry from all the bedrooms, so I put on Pandora. I start laundry, and by this time, I often want some real food, some lunch. So I heat up leftover chili or make myself a warm tortilla wrap, and sit back down to read again. After all of this, I’m ready to consider work, which is supposed to be the reason I find myself home alone in the first place. As the clock ticks closer to 1:30, then 2:00, then finally 2:45 when I must leave to pick the children up, I find myself increasingly anxious and guilt-filled, feeling I got far too little done and upset with myself for all the quiet sitting, the phone surfing, the reading, the eating, instead of accomplishing anything of real purpose.
It’s as if my days slip from peaceful to guilty plus anxious on the regular, each week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 8:00 AM through 2:45 PM. Again and again and again.
Today, I don’t know, it wasn’t any different. I arrived home, headed for the living room chair with my phone, a book, my now-cold coffee in hand. I read news of how friend’s days were beginning, news of an acquaintance recovering from surgery for breast cancer, watched Jimmy Fallon and Taylor Swift dance for the JumboTrons. I eventually made myself an egg. I read Anne Lamott’s “Small Victories” while I ate my egg and stopped to stare out the window when Anne really got to me. Laundry is a sacrament to me, a holy puttering, so I engaged in the spiritual practice of laundry after my egg. Once that was done and I’d remade the children’s beds with clean linens, I warmed up lunch.
Same as every week. But today, for one holy reason or another, I saw it for what I dare think it might be: nourishment. I saw it as my favorite version of God, the one I found and loved in the book “The Shack”: God as a big black woman, God as a matriarch with a keen eye and wise, knowing, very, very sassy soul. God who wants to see to it that you’re fed and fed right, rested and rested well, with plenty of time to think long and hard about who you are and why you’re here and how you might as well relax into it all. The One who saw you up with your daughter last night, helping her with her Geography Fair project on Norway. She was just slapping her knee over both of you when you were thinking how wonderful it really is to learn new things all over again as your child does, and your 8 year old daughter was talking about how she wanted to “emerge as a writer” (bless her teachers), reading and re-reading each sentence, trying to make it better, changing the word “ship” to “vessel”, her eyes lit up with pride and intelligence and the joy of language. You were tired and there were fits and there were children refusing to eat their dinners and a migraine coming on. There was beauty and agony, boredom, pain and laughter.
So, maybe I really was lazy today and maybe I really am most “work” days. Or maybe the purpose of these days is different than I’ve believed. Maybe I’m God’s kid. Maybe today she was all like “Giiiiiirrrrrrlll, mmmmMMM. I saw those children last night AND this morning, Lord bless ‘em. Girl, you need some REST and some FOOD and some WORDS that add up to more than “I’m hungry, My butt itches, He took my lego.” You let me worry about the work and the provision and the whole rest of your needs. Eat. You’re skin and bones (oh, that GOD. She knows just what to say). You sit right here and don’t even think about getting up for awhile. Lordy, this life has done a number on you. Child, just breathe for awhile. I’ll take care of the important stuff.” And She just walks off humming, like She runs the world.
“Exhausted, he fell asleep under the lone broom bush.
Suddenly an angel shook him awake and said, “Get up and eat!”
6 He looked around and, to his surprise, right by his head were a loaf of bread baked on some coals and a jug of water. He ate the meal and went back to sleep.
7 The angel of GOD came back, shook him awake again, and said, “Get up and eat some more—you’ve got a long journey ahead of you.”
8-9 He got up, ate and drank his fill, and set out. Nourished by that meal, he walked forty days and nights, all the way to the mountain of God, to Horeb. When he got there, he crawled into a cave and went to sleep.” (1 Kings 19:5-9)