I had to catch myself. Our oldest daughter was in her last weeks of Kindergarten and, side note, I was notably impressed with the durability of that light blue folder she brought to and from school every day. How did it not disintegrate into 2,746 pieces from the rain and applesauce spills over the year? Also, that we remembered it EVERY DAY seemed pretty miraculous to me. Each Monday, we’d receive a one-page newsletter on the right side of that folder detailing the happenings and birthdays and reminders, if any, for the week. In this second to final week, as summer sprinted toward us, there was an accompanying front and back glossy sheet from our small county’s Recreation Department summarizing 78 opportunities for children. I kid you not. I counted. And right away, I opened my phone’s iCalendar, sorted through the various camping trips, birthday parties and weddings scheduled within those 11 weeks, while circling every glossy option that would fit between and around and before and after. It was like Tetris for tots.
Ok, so if we do church camp here, then swim lessons would have to be after nap time but before dinner.
Yoga in the park would be a nice, calming change. It would fit right before the library.
Abby has soccer camp this week, but we could manage self-defense for all kids in the evenings after an early dinner.
Maybe we can head to the Bay and do a week of museums and theme parks between these two camping trips.
We need to find time to take the boat out. And teach them how to dive. And make sure we’re practicing riding bikes. And …
What am I doing?
Again and again, over the 6 mom years I’ve had under my belt, I’ve had to catch myself from building the lists for my children with the lie that they need all of these opportunities. Because ladies, if I’m honest, it’s primarily rooted here. In me. I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to be left out, thinking I am the only mom self-teaching her children how to swim. I don’t want to see the pictures and live Insta-stories from the sidelines. I want to be in them. I want my kids to be in them. We want to afford our children every opportunity, which is both commendable and completely unattainable. We want them to learn languages and sports, theatre and music. We want them to swim and wakeboard, snowboard and tie their shoes. But if you’re anything like me, I forget (more often than not) to teach them their value despite any talent or opportunity they may or may not have.
One thing I love (so, so much) about having a blog is writing what’s real for me. Not in a washed-down gospel way, but in the, here is our life way. Writing is how I come out of my introverted mind. And as I’ve prompted myself with the question while writing this article, I wouldn’t believe for a second that not filling my children’s schedules with busyness will stunt them. I say busyness because often we mistake development opportunities for busyness. We sell ourselves on the idea that developing our children requires constant scheduling and we’ll do just about anything not to hear “I’m boooorrrrrrred” for the 113th time today.
Obviously there are parents reading this who work full-time and scheduling the day is required. You’ve likely rolled your eyes and thought about closing this tab a few times. Thanks for sticking with me. I get that. I was still working until the birth of our second child. Managing employees and student groups, office hours, travel and telephone conferences on top of a toddler was a crazy, demanding mental puzzle, and I credit you. I say this as a mom who’s not working a traditional job.
Once I put that glossy list down on what will be our kitchen island, I had to step away. It wasn’t so much the list itself as it was seeing the build up in myself to prove my worth as their mom. Even as I type that, I settle back against the pillow in this coastal VRBO, doubting whether or not to actually publish those words. My worth as their mom. What a silly thing to say aloud. And yet, here it is. Your worth as their parent has nothing to do with how many activities fill their schedules. Do you know that? I’m having to remind myself of it pretty regularly and it is hard, you guys.
I was recently asked “why Jesus?”. Why is it that I believe in Jesus? This is why. When I’m on the ledge of insecure motherhood, He talks me down. When I’m tempted to fill every available pocket of sanity with crazy demands, He removes me. You guys, He saves me. Every day, in thousands of ways, He saves me. He saves me from thinking that my worth as a mom is held captive by busyness. He saves me from living in the lies of un-forgiveness. He reserves a seat for me at the table and saves me from loneliness. His death has paid for my every mishap and He comforts me. He teaches me to rest and to chill out. He reminds me that my worth is rooted in the Maker of Life itself, and because of Him, our worth has no end. For me, that’s why it’s Jesus. Because only He can do that.
My kids are really good at a lot of things. Some days it’s art. Some moments it’s music. Sometimes it’s driving me crazy. But I think what they need, more than any sport or class or activity, is a reminder of their worth. It’s certainly what I need and I’m a grown adult (mostly). I write this as a vital reminder to myself, never to let their abilities shadow their eternal worth, or value what they’re good at over who they are.