I’m never sure what to do with a week like this. You know the kind, the ones where nothing goes according to plan and everything seems chaos and you sigh with relief that this week is O-V-E-R. (Except it really isn’t when your husband works Saturdays. Sigh.)
Next to me is a girl home from school with a fever. She shuffled off the bus last night and said she couldn’t keep warm at school, but she didn’t have a fever when the nurse checked her. She was feverish by the time she got home, so we nursed her a little and sent her off to bed, and my “plans” for today became laced with contingencies.
Of any day this week for her to be home from school, today is a good one. I didn’t have concrete plans and I wasn’t meeting with my first-ever writing client (squee!). That was yesterday. I was dressed and ready to take a jog/walk when we made the call that she wouldn’t be getting on the bus. In the hour she was awake this morning, her fever rose by a degree or more, so I did the grown-up thing and decided she’d stay home.
She’s missing apple day in her class and I’m on the fence about whether I should let her go trick-or-treating tonight if she’s feeling better. And even though her presence in the house today won’t be a bother, part of me is still selfishly annoyed that my day is not my own today.
I’ve gotten a little too used to this kids-being-in-school-all-day thing.
But it doesn’t even have to be a sick kid to throw me off. I’m not the kind of person who leaves space in her days for the unexpected and unplanned. If I have a calendar, I want to fill it, even if that means filling my time with reading or writing, not necessarily appointments and coffee dates. I start the day with an idea of how things are going to go. It’s a control issue, I think, or maybe something deeper. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll talk to my counselor about it.
Today is just one indicator of how chaotic our week felt. On Sunday night we discovered a patch of carpet in the kids’ room that was soaked. All along the wall their room shares with the bathroom. We knew there was a small problem with the shower but further investigation has led to the revelation of a bigger problem. Monday, on my husband’s day off, was spent clearing out the kids’ room, removing all the furniture against that wall and clearing the floor of all the kid crap that accumulates unwanted. It was exhausting, and the work isn’t done yet and our house is extra messy because we have furniture and books in places they don’t normally belong.
We alerted our landlord. We’re still waiting to hear from the plumber. In the meantime, we discovered that we can’t use the shower unless we want to rain water into the basement on top of all the stuff we have stored down there. So, baths it is for the foreseeable future. (And don’t get me started on the mold potential.) Four years ago, in our last rental, we survived three feet of water in our basement but our souls are still recovering from that ordeal.
It is emotionally draining for me when I have to handle the unexpected and I think that’s because I don’t plan for it at all. My basic assumption is that everything is going to go exactly as I think so there’s no need to allow for other possible outcomes.
Unrealistic, I know.
I don’t know how to plan for what I don’t know is coming except to keep my schedule free in spots and my attitude open. I know I need to slow down and not always be in such a rush. I don’t have to tick off a dozen things on my list just so I feel like I accomplished something today and am a productive member of society.
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In the midst of this week, there has also been beauty. We had a lovely visit with friends we haven’t seen in years on Sunday. Our son lost his first tooth, which was stressful at first because it was so close to falling out but he wouldn’t let my husband pull it. But it was fun to see him embrace the magic of the tooth fairy this morning.
And it’s the peak week for fall colors around here so every tree is bursting bright with oranges, reds and yellows. I feel like the colors are especially vibrant this year, and the beauty makes me pause every time.
On the way to the bus stop yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the moon lingering in the morning sky, perched just above the trees whose leaves are changing. And later I read in a devotional how a busy schedule makes us miss out on important things.
I wondered what I had been missing this week. Or really my whole life.
There are busy seasons, I know, some more than others. But I know that if I don’t leave margins, if my schedule doesn’t include empty days and white space, then life will become overwhelming when an emergency or unplanned event strikes. If the mantra of my life is “I don’t have time for this”–and I’ve said those words more times than I’d care to admit–then I’ve got it wrong.
I want to have time for this. For quiet snuggles on the couch on a sick day. For a long look at the moon or the stars or the autumn leaves. For the chance to help someone in need. For the stopping and the pausing and the lingering.
How do you make room in your life for what’s important? How do you know when your life is too chaotic?