I just dropped our three-year-old off at her first day of preschool and have now entered a new season of parenting. One in which I have two mornings a week to myself. I have big plans for these five hours. From volunteering to a dedicated time to write to day-dates with my husband, not to mention decluttering and organizing the closets, I know that my plans outnumber the minutes.
On one hand, I am going to be very protective of my time. One of these mornings will be devoted to writing, something I’ve never had. No groceries, no chores, no distractions. My other morning, I plan to hold with more flexibility. Maybe I’ll have more time to write; maybe this will be the morning I tackle the outgrown clothing crowding the girls’ closets. Maybe my husband and I can walk to the local diner for breakfast.
After I made my list of goals for this school year, I stepped back and remembered that I have plenty of time to accomplish these preschool hopes. I’m not advocating procrastination but I am trying to stay realistic. Maybe I won’t declutter the playroom until January. That’s OK. I have time! Maybe I’ll get those closets organized by the end of September, which would be awesome. But maybe not. I’m remembering that this time is a gift. I’m looking at these hours and receiving them, not as a commodity to be earned but as a gift to be thankful for.
Every night as I brush my teeth before bed, I read the Compline prayers from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. This part of the prayer especially stuck with me as we enter this new season of parenting:
“We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to do the rest.”
My list of hopes and goals is long for this exciting new phase of having a quiet house two times each week. Deep down, I know full-well that I won’t accomplish all my goals. I probably won’t become fluent in French or wander the art museum as much as I imagine. I probably will organize our home a bit but it will never be minimalist – that’s just not us. I cannot do everything.
But it is a beginning and I am recognizing that God has gifted me these hours. Through our family’s circumstance and choices, I am able to embrace these moments that I recognize are a privilege to have. I don’t take this lightly. I want to use my time well, just as I hope I used those preschool years well, when I had no time to myself and everything was squeezed into the margins.
We are in new territory and I realize this may not last forever. Maybe I’ll continue staying home full-time but maybe I’ll go back to work in a couple years. I’m learning to use these moments well. To not squander time or take it for granted.
I want to lay a foundation for this next season, whatever it holds. And while I plan and make lists of goals, I am remembering to hold those loosely and to allow opportunities for the Lord’s grace to do the rest.
Annie Rim lives in Colorado where she plays with her two inquisitive daughters, hikes with her husband, and writes about life and faith on her blog: annierim.com. She has taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. She’s a contributor at The MOPS Blog, the editor for The Red Couch Book Club at SheLoves Magazine, and naptime scribbler.