It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Part of that is because I’ve been reading a whole lot and I find it hard to do both well. Also, we went away for a week. We did a little house swap and went to stay in my sister-in-law’s gaff in Bangor. (Though not really because they didn’t come to our house, they went to Sligo?!)
Anyway, initially, this felt a bit desperate and a tad boring! But guess what?
It was genius.
Jude and her hubbie Andrew have two little girls, so the house came fully equipped with all things miniature – an endless supply of dolls, mini kitchens, dress up guff, paints, books, dolls house, bunk beds, slides, super soakers, spacehoppers, swing set. Awesome!
The first day we hardly had to leave the house as the kids were just content to play with all the new stuff and become acquainted with their ‘holiday home’.
There was an ease that came with knowing where to find everything and being familiar enough with the area to just take off in the car.
Their street is incredibly quiet and peaceful and at the bottom of their huge garden is a bench and a meadow. I tried to take my book and a coffee down there as often as I could. (Which was twice)
With three kids five and under they are relatively easy to please at this stage. We found a little park in Groomsport and I’m not sure why they adored it so much but truly-I was ignored at this place. My presence was irrelevant. What bliss.
We had a lovely day at Castle Ward where the kids found a zip wire and threw themselves off the ledge a few hundred times. On the way home we got possibly the best chippy I’ve ever had. Though my husband got annoyed at my order –a curry chip and chicken bites? Whateva, food snobs and gym bunnies -it was incredible, perhaps the highlight of my whole holiday!
Then I grabbed the opportunity for a few lazy baths using all of Jude’s lotions and potions. I read three books – Together, 7 an experimental mutiny against excess and Gatecrashing- the story of 24-7 prayer in Ibiza (not all in the bath, obviously.) I watched one of my favourite movies, Silver Linings Playbook, all by myself completely uninterrupted. I went for a run to Donaghgadee and a long walk to Ballyhome beach. I did a few ‘Davina Intense dvd Workouts’ not caring about the neighbours who peered in the front window, smirking at me flailing about the living room.
Good times, people. Good times.
And yet, holidays are like everything else in this season, aren’t they? They come with highs and lows, peace and chaos, the picture perfect scenes at the park and the nappy explosions on the way home.
They come with lots to do and just making the most of it, lowering expectations and working out why you are incredibly bored, frustrated, drained, angry, disappointed and fed up.
We may have been on holiday but there were still little visitors in the middle of the night and a teething baby and drinks that spill EVERYWHERE. There were crashes into stairgates and hissy fits over absolutely nothing. There were still conflicts with the man in my life, still times when we drove each other insane.
And no matter how much I enforced the ‘we’re on holiday and YOU WILL have a good time’ rule, it didn’t really work. I keep learning that regardless of the situation, scenery or spectators my kids will get narky, they will have a meltdown, they will shout NO! and run away from me in a busy car park.
It’s just part of this season.
This season involves a fair about of mundane and crazy and boredom. It means enjoying pretend cups of tea from miniature kitchens for the 50th time and making my face seem excited.
In this season money is tight, mess is a given, sleep is not guaranteed, most things are shouted and the desire to rush and hurry and get more done is so strong I don’t know how I can do life any other way.
This season feels full of pressure with very little to show for it. It requires me to constantly lower my expectations and clutch on to something else other than what a big fat faker I am.
Here’s some truth for you.
On holiday, we were down near the Marina and we decided to get an ice cream. At the shop, I ended up stuck in the narrow doorway with the buggy, right beside the big fridge full of all the ice creams. The buggy was teetering over the front step and obviously blocking everyone trying to leave or come in! I was aware of this….but my other two kids were going nuts over what flavour they wanted. It was indeed, all kicking off. Much drama over tubs or cones, sprinkles, fudge sticks, pink spoons or green spoons, never mind the gazillion flavours to choose from. Dear bless us all.
So as I was trying to defuse the situation when a lady stood behind me said ‘What are you doing?’ in the most condescending, superior and arrogant tone you can imagine.
Of course, she was referring to my buggy situation and of course, beside her was a beautiful petite blonde girl holding her hand – waiting patiently for her turn, while I faffed about with my hyper kids and awkward buggy.
I felt the shame of a mum who has no clue what the heck she is doing.
The embarrassment of being in the way.
The pressure of holding a situation together.
The ridicule of people who know it’s already fallen apart.
And there’s a lot of talk about seasons of life. You know ‘this is just a season you are in‘ or ‘yes, this is a hard season’ and I get it. I get it because today, in a café, I asked the assistant for a ‘scoffee’. My brain could not handle scone and coffee so it churned out scoffee instead. She kind of looked at me like, ‘I know how you are feeling’.
Part of me finds it helpful to think of life in seasons. It allows me deal with change a bit better and the ebbs and flows of life. Part of me just feels like this one is just something to work through and tolerate.
Sometimes I wonder how I might escape it!
Mostly I just think about finding a way to just survive it -power through and get to the good stuff, waiting, at the other end.
And then I hear another voice. It’s quiet but I hear it.
It suggests to me that there is much more for this season. More than I allow myself to believe. It reminds me there is holiness in the mess and noise and randomness of it all. It speaks of the humility located in constantly meeting others needs and rarely been thanked or acknowledged.
Serving the little people you love day in and day out is not all fancy, it’s rarely presented very well, but it’s not a waste.
And in this season there are dreams that need to come to life, ideas that can flourish, prayers that will be answered. There are people to connect with and love in the best way I can. There are opportunities to take risks, to step out and stop being so incredibly safe. There are lives to influence and situations to transform.
And I will miss all of that if I live like I’m in a race to finish this season and move on.
In 7 Jen Hatmaker writes,
Discipleship is a journey and each stage is a necessary precursor to the following one. There is no wasted scene, no futile season. God gives us what we can handle, when we can handle it. And we are drawn more and more deeply into the knowledge of Jesus. Do the best with what you know. When you know more, adjust the trajectory.‘
And today, this is what I know;
I know my weaknesses are displayed on almost every level on a daily basis and it’s enough to draw me closer to the One who says ‘Come to me, watch how I do it- learn the unforced rhythms of grace.’ I know in this season I carry His presence into every circumstance – including all of that mess and noise and randomness.
I know the very heart of God is reflected in me. Me, the one sweating with the poo on her top and dark circles under her eyes, shouting the odds at breakfast.
And He is enough to make a difference. He is enough to transform. He is enough to help me do the best I can with the truth I’ve got.