So. We’re renovating our new home, as I’ve said a few times(ok maybe a million) over the past few weeks. We’re hangin in there, but all getting extremely ready for our dishes to be in cabinets and for my stove to actually be, well, a stove, instead of sitting on the dining room floor. The dust is out of control and I think I’ve given up on life, including toilets, which is a pretty big deal as I usually have issues with pee. I have people in my house all the hours of all the days, and while I’m beyond thankful for this beautiful new kitchen, I’m ready to make our house a home. I’m ready to hang pictures and shower during the day in an empty house. I’m ready to cook. Because I never dreamed that listing, selling, moving and renovating could take over our life the way it has.
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on our life stage this Summer. At first, I thought it was all because of the move. It took over in a big way partly because we moved during the Summer when all the kids were out of school. But, I think it’s also just where we are. We’re thirty somethings whose kids are getting older and that brings with it a whole new season. With our kids getting older, life has become more about them and their friends and activities than about us and ours.
In church yesterday, sitting in our small group, we sort of dissected the season so many of us are in. Kids in elementary school, no more babies in the house. Careers and moves and marriage and sports. Very little time for friendships and social outings besides an attempted grown up convo at McAlister’s while our kids scarf down their food in .4 seconds and we suddenly realize it’s better luck next time friends. We give hugs or high five’s, all in a solidarity sort of way to the parents(i.e. friends) across the table who we really wanted to have meaningful conversation with, but couldn’t because we were interrupted 2,587 times. So we say we’ll try again, we get up with our sweet tea’s and our circus and head home, hoping for a next time to come soon so we can all finish our thoughts.
And that really happened.
Like two days ago.
Then I got home and popped on Facebook and saw a blog post floating around on this same topic, and I read the first few sentences and related all too well. I didn’t read it all, as I knew I had this post partially finished and sitting in my draft box and wanted to keep it my own, but I know now that I’m not alone in this struggle. Friendships are harder now. Life is a bit frantic. It’s loud. It’s busy. It’s bustling with fleeting moments and time in my car driving too and fro. We threw in a move and a renovation which has added to this strange yet exciting new season of life.
I have very few of these….
And way more of this…..
Because it’s where we are. And you know what? It’s good. My kids are now (at least the older two) at an age where they play more competitive sports. It’s busy. They are both in school, and one starts middle school in a YEAR. Lord Jesus be with us. Oh my stars. Their friends now show up on our front door step, bikes in tow, ready to hang out or swim or play X Box. Gone, for the most part, are the days of organized play dates and coffee with friends during nap time. I’m surrounded by kids. All. the. time. And it’s good. Because I want them all to feel welcomed and loved here. I want their friends to want to be in our home. But it means some sacrifice for me.
I miss my friends. I miss the freedom that came with a lighter load, but having little one’s comes with its own set of challenges of course. This season is just different. And it’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t yet in it.
I love people. LOVE them. Love my people. And I can’t tell you how many times this Summer I have felt like a horrible friend, impatient mom and responsible party to the people I’m raising and sort of a crappy wife. But I’ve been learning a lot about grace too. A wise friend of mine often says grace to ourselves is the hardest to give, and I think she’s right. I’m not a bad friend or a bad mom or wife. Could I do better? Yes. ALWAYS. But I also have to realize that friendships and relationships and schedules and the load I’m able to carry will change as my kids enter different seasons of life. And that has to be ok. It may mean fewer deep and meaningful friendships, as I hang onto the few and far between who just get it. My posse has gotten smaller. It may mean less time to run or grocery shop alone or train or race or write. It may mean more Papa John’s and less Pioneer Woman.
It WILL mean more patience and compromise. More grace. More wisdom. More patient love. More long suffering love. More conversations with my kids at bed time when I just want to be left the heck alone. More listening. More investing in us. In them. Not that you don’t invest when they’re small. Oh you do in such a big way, but this is a different kind of parenting. It gets deeper and in a lot of ways, so much stinking fun. But it also gets harder.
The past 6 weeks we’ve been mostly without a kitchen. I’ve had it in bits and pieces, but our grill has been our saving grace. I’ll walk into a room of unpacked boxes some days and not even notice them, as I’ve resolved myself to the fact that until the house is wrapped up(i.e. EMPTY) and the kids are back in school, they are just going to sit right on that floor. Other days I see them and find myself needing a Xanax. It’s messy…. everywhere. I handle it better than Rob I guess, or maybe I’m just too busy with the kids to care right now. As I’ve been wrestling with this concept of grace for our season, I’ve felt like I haven’t been providing for my family in terms of food because I’ve only been able to cook outside, which to be honest, just gets old. Especially when it’s so hot you want to literally just die. The last thing I want to do is stand over a hot grill in the 114 degree heat. It just makes for a mean mommy.
I could tell Rob was getting tired of this whole scenario one night and offered to cook whatever he wanted. He had been on the road and was desperate for a home cooked meal. I didn’t have a stove but I still had my oven’s. His suggestion? Spaghetti.
I was like, um babe, I have no stove. His response, as if people do this every day, was, “no big deal, just do spaghetti on the grill.”
I’m sorry what now?
I’ve been cooped up in this messy house for the past 5 weeks with 3 fighting children who haven’t eaten a vegetable or fruit in dayzzzzzz and you want me to make spaghetti, on the GRILL? Do you know how much work that would take(I was sort of irrational about this. I’m sure it’s not THAT hard to make spaghetti on the grill)? My pots and pans are packed. I have no sauce. That means a trip to the store is required to make this miraculous meal happen, which I’m sorry, ain’t happening. Because I’m entirely over grocery shopping too. It’s August. All mom’s are over all things. Not to mention you’ve been out-of-town all week and I am TIRED and DONE with these people and with food in general because they are constantly asking me for something so no, I will NOT be making spaghetti on the grill. Call Pei Wei stat. It’s as close to home cooked as we’re getting tonight. I need a shower.
That was basically my super wife answer. Deep down, I want to cook again. I want life to be back to some sense of normalcy. I want some routine and for our new house to feel like our home. And I know it will in time. But I also know that right now, we have to have grace with ourselves. And he totally got that. I know that taking time to invest in my kids, their friends, their friends families, their teams, school, and our marriage and home(not in that order either) is paramount. It’s where we are. The days are long but the years are short. Isn’t that what they say when the kids are little? Now the years feel fast, and so do most of the days. And I don’t want to wish it away.
I don’t want to miss the opportunity to appreciate where are NOW. Because now brings with it so many blessings. So many good things. So many moment’s we’ll never get back. Even the crazy hair pulling ones. I want to savor them and be ok with what they might take the place of for now. I want to make spaghetti on the grill while my kids swim in the back yard and enjoy being home. With us. Because before we know it we’ll be eating spaghetti on the stove in a quiet house, and we’ll miss the noise. For now I’ll give myself grace, and extend that same grace to other momma’s and parents who find themselves navigating the various seasons of parenthood, wether behind us or ahead of us, and choose to love the season we are in. Because they are ever changing. Constantly shifting from one to the next. And if we’re not careful, we’ll miss them.