Working for the weekend: first day of Lent story
“I don’t know, I haven’t thought much past today. Let me look at my calendar…” my friend had just called me to ask what was up for the weekend.
“Oh, wouldja look at that!? I don’t have anything on Saturday.
“Really!?” my friend was incredulous. “Nothing!?”
We each have three kids so usually we’re running around somewhere, be it sports or shopping or a church thing or playdates (even though big kids don’t call them playdates any more, we moms still do.)
“Well, there was something there but it’s whited out. I don’t even remember what it was…”
It has been a particularly busy time so it’s kind of a thrill to have a day with no obligations. My friend and I decided to get together. In honor of the first day of Lent, here’s my latest church column.
When I woke up, it took me a few moments to remember that it was Presidents’ Day. I reached for my phone and saw that it was 6:15. As I shut off the alarm, which was set for 7:00, I noted how much easier it is to get up early when you have a choice in the matter.
Then I looked outside and noticed that it was snowing – big beautiful flakes falling lazily from the sky, and thought how much more lovely it looked when I didn’t have to be in a rush to “shovel out,” since it was a holiday and no one had to go anywhere. There would be no mail delivery so I didn’t have to worry about chipping away at the iceberg in which my mailbox was buried (so the mail truck could pull up), either.
I rejoiced and was glad for the third day of a much-needed long weekend. It was the first day in at least a month that my left eye had not twitched, whether from stress or too much coffee, I do not know. Stress and too much coffee are like the chicken and the egg, anyway, and symptoms of a much larger problem, which is too much to do because of circumstances out of my control.
I could not control the fact that we hadn’t had a full week of school since Christmas break, because of snow days, weather-related school delays, and regularly scheduled half days. My work has been particularly busy as I’m preparing for an event and since it is global in nature, it doesn’t stop because we have a local weather emergency. I work at home, so “I couldn’t get into the office” is not a valid excuse. Plus, if I put off the work, no one else is going to do it. Working around my kids is one of the most taxing things I have to do, and anyone who thinks differently is welcome to take my kids to their office and see how much is accomplished.
The previous weekend, we had the grand finale of basketball (two jamborees and my oldest son’s championship win, which was a welcome but unexpected addition of two games to our already crowded schedule), lacrosse (for which we had to rush out of church on Sunday), and the culmination of five years’ worth of Boy Scouts where my oldest earned his Arrow of Light (he had to finish his final lesson for one of his religious emblems that week, serve in church, and then we all attended the Blue and Gold banquet for the awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon), as well as a benefit event for which I was volunteering. To top it off, my youngest became sick (an unwelcome, unexpected addition to our plans). I was able to get help with the benefit event, but the other agenda items required my full presence and participation.
I had to pick my youngest up from school twice the following week because he was too tired to go to extended day. The second time that happened, he had a fever so I brought him to the doctor, who prescribed antibiotics, which meant he could not go to school the next day – a day where I had six conference calls scheduled.
“Depleted,” crossed my mind several times, usually accompanied by the eye twitch. I felt like I had nothing left to give or even any choice in the matter – everything I was doing was important to my family; it just so happened to be occurring concurrently and in some cases simultaneously. I was unable to take my regular walks with friends, which was particularly disappointing, since we were having unseasonably warm weather. I hadn’t make it to choir practice in longer than I could remember. And I wasn’t writing, which is for me, ignoring a vital part of reflection and prayer, gratitude, and introspection.
I recalled a book from my childhood, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, about a boy and a tree. The tree gives the boy shade, apples, branches, and finally its trunk, “and then the tree was happy… but not really.” At the end of the book, when the boy, now an old man, returns to the tree, the tree tells him, “I wish that I could give you something…but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry…”
Oh, God, I prayed. Please don’t let me become a stump!
Just hold on until the weekend, I told myself. The unscheduled time during the long weekend was the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. Indeed, there were plenty of things I coulda, shoulda, or woulda done during Presidents’ Day weekend. Instead, I reveled in the possibility of doing nothing or anything I chose, at my own pace. As best-selling author, Dr. Kirk Byron Jones says, “there are few things in life more dynamic than a rested soul.”