With all the responsibilities I try so desperately to balance, I felt determined to place my priorities in the order of their significance… with full intention of being present in those sun soaked summer moments that so easily beckon a mother to embrace her children. Who wouldn’t want to splash in the pool on a hot summer day with their kids? What on earth could be more important than catching fire flies with our kids on a cool summer night?
Bask in the goodness of it all…
Summer is for letting go and filling our fuel tank with love, family, and fun. Is it not?
Summer is winding down far too soon, as school keeps rearing its early morning wake up call long before we even had the chance to soak in the freedom that feeds our spirit and soothes our souls. The long lost summer days scurried by with rushed mornings to swim team practice and camps, quick meals in between this and that, and often barely time to breathe in the summer’s sweet air and simply rest. It spiraled into a blurry busy schedule, with hasty plans and fleeting fun- only to be waking up each day to do it all over again.
And as I reflect on our season, I can’t help but wonder if I really tried hard enough to have my life reflect my priorities. I increasingly began to feel let down, discouraged, and disheartened at the cost of my choices.
I wanted to give more to my kids.
I wanted to embrace more moments of joy.
I wanted to discover once again,
the radiance of the sun’s warmth and the chill of the water’s splash.
I wanted to have late nights laughing.
I wanted to be spontaneous and grab each moment
with a fierceness of vitality in every whim.
I wanted to share moments that lingered,
at a pace that stalled.
I wanted to create memories that would be
forever engraved on my children’s hearts.
And as I truthfully assess what I set out to pursue…
I hang my head in disappointment and disdain.
It simply didn’t happen.
The reality of it all is that I spent every day overwhelmed and tired… trying to juggle significant obligations while continually feeling stretched to the limit of living.
This was not at all my intention, and far from my mission.
So I prayed.
Surrendering my failed mission with my honest inventory of the season. I prayed for peace and acceptance that although my goal was extraordinary and my purpose was sound…
It was undoubtedly unrealistic and unattainable for me.
After I opened up this ghastly wound to our God of compassion, I have been discovering new truths in my assessment of this summer. Perhaps God is leading me to the realization that although I could have done better…
I am slowly discovering more moments I neglected to acknowledge that were wrapped with good intention and perfectly placed in the midst of my priority after all.
I didn’t fail completely.
The hours I spent in the car driving my kids to all the activities they loved.
The countless swim meets standing in the heat of the day or the cool of night,
cheering my girl on and greeting her at the end of each race with hugs and celebration.
The ropes and bungee cords I found with incredible excitement for my kids to
create the most unbelievably savvy swings and zip lines from a neighboring tree.
The painstakingly unending preparations for meals and snacks
that nourished my hungry active kids at every turn.
The slides and diving boards I so cautiously traversed with giggles and down right zeal,
so that my kids could glow with pride that their mom is always the crazy one.
My cheers and screams and flailing arms as the kids peeked through the
bars of the high-flying rides at the State Fair. The inevitable vomit
that I so graciously wiped up in front of the crowd.
The impromptu open evenings outside with the neighbors playing
all the glorious childhood games untied to any material goods asking,
“Just a little longer mom?!”
To which I reply, “Well it is summer!”
The laughs and shrills of excitement while assisting them with
smoke bombs and sparklers, as they begged for
“Just one more,” twenty five times.
The non-stop folding of loads and loads of dirty laundry,
wet towels, and stinky socks that resembled a
well lived summer for my children.
And as these recollections drifted through my mind, I began to chisel away at my critical voice that digs so relentlessly into my vulnerable self-scorned heart. Buried beneath the blows I seem to so effortlessly inflict on myself, I slowly began to feel grace and mercy soak through my belittling battle.
Maybe I didn’t fail after all.
As it always seems…
What we launch in the wake of momentum, our vision and hope slowly twists its way into something far from what we aspire it to be.
I decided to ask my most honest critics about their own review of summer.
And as I held my breath, I asked them three main questions and told them to answer honestly.
What were your greatest moments of summer?
What were your greatest disappointments of summer?
What were your biggest disappointments in me?
Terrified of the answers to come, I made sure my body language spoke of compassion and comfort so they could feel free to share anything without consequence.
I learned that all of their disappointments and great moments had nothing to do with me.
And that last question?
Each one of them couldn’t think of one.
“Really?” I asked.
Glad I asked.
Moms and Dads, let this be a lesson in grace for you.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Parents, how do you reconcile your defeating discouragement? What regrets are gnawing at you? I challenge you to ask your kids their perception?
By Chris Carter
Wife to Derek
Mom of two
SAHM (Stay at Home Mom)
1 Corinthains 13 Parenting Team Member
Blogger at The Mom Cafe