“Mommy, you forgot my show-and-tell today ... again.”
That’s how my sweet preschooler greeted me today after preschool. Yup. I forgot. I think I’ve forgotten more than I've remembered. She is scheduled for Monday morning show-and-tell, which usually would be great for my just-get-it-done attitude. But I don’t ever think about it in the crazy, mad rush on Sunday night or Monday morning.
I’m pretty sure I’m the reigning Most Pathetic Mom at preschool, so I can’t bring myself to ask for a different day.
I really need to get over trying to appear like I have it all together. I joke that I can’t even give the illusion of being organized. I used to be able to at least appear like I was slightly organized. Now ... not so much. Things are always falling by the wayside. I have lists. I have calendars. I have more lists. No matter how hard I try, I end up forgetting something daily.
The good thing is I haven’t forgotten any of my children anywhere yet. (Oh, golly—now I’m gonna forget someone 'cause I said that!)
I used to be so much about appearing like I could handle this life really well—you know, that organized, put-together, calm mom—on the outside, I mean. I’ve always been a bit of a mess on the inside. But now things are different.
It’s interesting how God works in our lives. Now, when my outside world seems most out of control—crazy schedule, mile-long to-do list, forgotten stuff, mismatched socks on my 4-year-old (well, actually, that’s her choice), cluttered living, endless laundry, too many books, papers and crayons and an unknown number of house projects—my inside world, my heart and soul, is at peace.
And by "peace," I mean that peace which passes all understanding—you know, that God peace. I still have worries, stress and occasional emotional meltdowns. But I feel a current of peace under the storm of my life.
I think it’s because I’m learning to be thankful for what God is doing in my life. I’m thankful for how He takes care of us, provides for us and shows His love for us in big and little ways. There is a lot I would change about my life, but there is a lot I wouldn’t change at all.
You know that verse in Philippians 4 that talks about God’s peace that passes all understanding guarding our hearts and minds? That guarding peace is because we rejoice (v. 4), we are willing to put aside our rights for others (v. 5), we have an eternal perspective (v. 5), we fight our anxiety with prayer (v. 6) and we are thankful (v. 7). That’s quite a list—and I like lists.
I believe that the key is prayer with thanksgiving.
As I’m faced with daunting tasks and difficult decisions, I’m trying to find something to be grateful for in the process. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to address my little girls' learning issues next year. I can get rather anxious about it—it’s a big deal, and the options are limited and expensive.
What can I be thankful for? That these sweet little girls are mine. That there are options—and some are pretty good. That I know God loves my little girls even more than I do, which is unfathomable. That I know He has a great plan for their lives. And that He will show me the right path in His time (which, by the way, is never the same as my time).
That is one of the big ones for me right now. Others are college decisions and paying for college for my oldest, raising a teenage girl in this culture, a little boy who needs a godly man to step into his world and ask deep questions, and the thousands of other decisions that need my attention each day.
I’m sure we all have ridiculously long and complicated lists. Even in the midst of all the yuck of our lives, we can choose to be thankful and focus on the good things. There’s gotta be a good thing or two or more. I just know it.
I might not have it all together for more than five seconds a day, but I have a lot to be thankful for. So maybe having it all together isn’t the be-all, end-all I thought it was. Maybe I can just be messy me who forgets stuff and gets weepy at times, who can choose to smile while tripping over the clutter of a house full of children I love with abandon, and who occasionally forgets to pack show-and-tell options for her preschoolers.
I guess what I’m sharing is that we don’t have to have it all together to be blessed or to be a blessing.
Sue Birdseye is an author and single mom of five kids that range from 4 years old to 17 years old. This article is adapted from her blog, uptomytoes.com.