“Everything is a chart with you.”
“What? No… Well, maybe. Charts are good!”
She was 10 years old and I was her tutor/babysitter/nanny/friend. I was around 17 at the time and I must have been trying to get her to do her homework without whining or to use her great love of eating an entire can of refried beans in a tortilla without cheese as an incentive to do well. I’ve had six kids of my own since then and have posted up every type of list, chart, incentive program, planning folder, computer program that I could get my hands on. I am the type of person who plans things to the 15 minute and if you’re in a meeting with me, there will be some type of time chart or calendar involved. I like things in black and white, clear cut, I like structure, rules and guidelines. I think I have always thought, if I could just get it right, everything in my life would run smoothly, like a well oiled machine.
Life has shown me otherwise.
Some things have happened over the years that have caused me to care less about having every detail in order. When I was a new mom I was in a bible study with a woman named Peggy Evans and she once said, “I have searched the entire bible and never have I found anywhere that said we are going to have an easy life, it’s just not in there.” I wonder if she knew how I hung on to her every word. How is it 14 years later and her wisdom, phrases of what she said, still linger with me? That statement, along with the realization that no amount of planning, preparing or scheduling was going to make my life perfect, caused me to care less about planning out every detail, every step, time-table, nuance of our days. Not right then of course, it took many years to discover this truth.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still me. I run a household of 9 people and a turtle. I homeschool. I have a bi-vocational husband. I plan and organize and prepare a great many things, but I hope that I hold it all more loosely now.
So what changed?
Well, I found that type of life extremely stressful. Children don’t fit in boxes, they are unpredictable and have minds of their own. When I tried to line them up neatly in a row it always seemed to come out… skewed. I would be yelling, they would be crying, no one was happy. My brightest days are the ones I’m living now, my darkest ones are the ones behind me. Boy, do I have stories to tell. I watch young mamas trying to keep up with… who again? Each other? I feel for them. I’ve been there. I’m not going back.
Mostly what has changed in me is the way I view all of life, the way I view God. He’s in control you know? I find myself spinning my wheels every time I try to get somewhere on my own. I don’t like that I come across not as put together as I’d like to be in this new way of living, but that’s mostly just my pride. Ok, that’s all pride. So I am learning to work hard, be diligent and then stand with my arms wide open to him and let him have his way in me and in my life. It’s not easy for this line up her blocks and move her toy people in a line one-by-one type of girl. I still try to live out my childhood games, but I’m grown up now and the people aren’t toys and the casualties of my trying to be, let’s be honest: GOD – are just not worth it.
Those who know me intimately, my husband, mom, sister, close friends, they know this is a day by day struggle, but I’m trying to live in some color. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to live life in gray, is gray even a color? Maybe I’m not required to do gray, but my 12 year old is trying to introduce turquoise to me. 🙂