May is a bit of a tease, isn’t it? It marks the end of spring, the rain has slowed but the warmth is here to stay. The lengthening days are plentiful with sunshine. The sun is always alluring me to come and enjoy. But those long days are not yet filled with the slowness of summer. The calendar interrupts my preference.
As I stare at my open calendar: field day, muffins with mom, awards ceremonies, class parties and after-school end of the year celebrations, birthday parties, pediatrician check-ups, therapies and swim lessons. (Seriously, no exaggeration.) And this, times four, for each of my children. Somehow nestled amongst the busy is “Mother’s Day,” as if May foreknew mama was going to need some encouragement.
In order to prepare for the pandemonium, I’m thinking ahead. I’m told it’s wise to have a plan in the event of a tornado. It feels applicable to May. In case your month looks anything like mine, here are my protective strategies:
It would just be rude to ignore the sun’s beckoning. Plan time to get outside each day and soak up that vitamin D.
Wake up earlier and take a walk around the block. Enjoy some solitude before the chaos commences. Eat that fast food dinner on a blanket in the front yard – a picnic makes clean up a breeze! Text your neighbors and meet at the park before bed; it’s a perfect excuse to quell your kiddos’ last sparks of energy before settling in for the night.
You’ll never regret delaying that load of laundry for a few moments of fresh air. Make it a priority.
Give yourself a timeout
For my anxious son, it’s a sign of growth and his emotional maturity when he acknowledges things are overwhelming. On the good days he’ll confess, “Mom, I need a break.” (If he doesn’t give himself a timeout, a tantrum is inevitable and the time out will be forced.)
Isn’t it the same for us? We should take his lead.
Tell your kids, “Mom needs a break.” Walk to your room, turn off the lights and close the door for a few quiet minutes. Gather yourself before heading back into the crazy zone. (A good cry might also be cathartic. I won’t tell, if you won’t.)
Just say no
We all learned this one in high school. It applied to red ribbon week back then, but our new drug of choice is perfection. We cannot be all the things for all of the people. (This is the one I find most difficult to apply!)
Yes, I understand your son’s class needs water for their end of the year party. Great. Do that. But don’t also create the game for the first grader’s class, a craft for the two-year-old and homemade favors for the kindergarteners, while offering to walk your neighbor’s dog and prepare dinner.
Let’s agree not to compare ourselves and to remember our limits. It’s OK NOT to do it all. It’s not worth stealing our joy.
Mama, you’re doing a great job! These are those days we’ll look back on and miss. Our season might be difficult, but it’s also beautiful. God has created this family for you, and you for them. It’s designed to be enjoyed.
Only God can sustain our families. We can’t control it all.
So, breathe. Breathe in God’s daily grace, those sticky fingers and barefoot toes. Breathe out the lie that a “good” mom can do it all (a better mom chooses less!). Breathe in the slowness, remembering to be present in that single moment. Breathe out the hurry. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Breathe deep. You’ve got this.
If all else fails, pray. As Brother Lawrence says, “One need not cry out very loudly; he is nearer than we think.”
Solidarity, Mama! We’re never alone.
Shannon J. Smith writes sporadically and shares her favorite internet finds at shannonjensmith.wordpress.com. Most often, she can be found chasing around her four precious and crazy littles, advocating for her marginalized neighbors, and championing her husband’s good work. To say “Hi,” stop by her Instagram @shanjensmith.