Saturday, January 07, 2006

Soccer Mom Heaven

Except... I am not a Soccer Mom. I think I have shared before, that we love our new small-town home. I hate my commute to work. But I don't want to move in closer to D.C., even if we could afford it. Before we moved here, the wife of a friend who blogs, described this county as 'soccer mom heaven'. A place where family comes first. And it does. Its all around us. And since we moved here, more and more of my prayer time has surrounded an increasing need for more time with Emily. In San Diego, Em and I rose and got ready in the morning together, drove (the 9 minute commute) into the city together. When my day ended, I drove the 4 blocks to her school to pick her up, and we began our evening together. We stopped at a park to play, we went to Jamba Juice for a smoothie. We cooked dinner and waited for Daddy to get home. We had HOURS before bath and bed time. I worked more hours in San Diego than I do here - but the 'feel' of my day is so much different. When Ben was away at the academy -before my mom arrived - I drug Em out of bed at 6:00 and we were half sleepy but out of the house by 6:30. She ate breakfast at the before school care, while I drove the 75 minutes into my job. I worked my 8 hours and longed to get home, but the afternoon commute home was even worse. By the time I got to Em, got home, dinner and bath - it was bedtime. For both of us. I started to squeeze in a regular quiet time after Em was in bed. When my mom arrived - it got better for Em, but not for me. At least Em could sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast with Grandma before catching the school bus. No more 11 hour days for a six year old - thank the Lord. Grandma was home when the bus pulled up. Even if it meant cartoons in front of the TV and a nap until I got home in time for dinner, bath and bed. In San Diego - where many, if not most, families have two parents who work outside the home, there are so many choices for your children. Because Ben and I ha(d) some disposable income, we could chose the absolute best in terms of shared philosophy, faith, activities and location. California is supposed to be so expensive, so congested, so crazy living -- right? Its nothing like the Metro D.C. area for expense and congenstion. Except we live in the 'burbs now. Finding childcare is not only more expensive - theres just not that much of quality. And almost nothing where faith is involved and parents are assisted in the training of the history of our God. Soccer mom heaven you see. Kids programs don't run from 5:30-6:30 or 6:00-7:00. They run from 4:15-6:00 - much more family friendly. Except when your kid can't participate because you are on the Capital Beltway at 4:15 -or still at work, because the family friendly school doesn't start till 9:05. So instead of picking what's best. We try to find what will work. And we pray. A lot. It seems that not only is God listening and answering, he is teaching me to use my research and planning skills - but NOT depend on them. He is teaching me that He will meet my need, my families needs day by day. NOT by my excellent 'plans'. Ben was told he was to work the 3-11 pm shift. My job duties were redefined, and if I work at it, keep a low profile, and arrange my schedule just right - I can work 6:00 am -2:30 pm. The school bus leaves at 8:45 am - Ben can spend the mornings with Em. I now know a back road that gets me home in 45 minutes if it is early enough in the day both ways. I can be home when the bus arrives at 3:45 pm. Most people's response to this is what about time for me and Ben? But Ben has never had an 8-5 job. Never. When we married he was working 3 am - 1 pm. For years he worked the 5pm -12 midnight while I worked days and went to school at nights. In San Diego he worked the 2pm -10pm. This is normal to us. Weekends are our family time. We have long standing ways to say - wait up, or meet me for dinner, to find the moments we need. This time - Em gets two hours every day with Daddy to herself. AND we get the whole weekend as a family. A miracle in itself for those in law enforcement with less than 20 years seniority. More time with Em, less money being expended (as we try to stabilize and pay off debt and in general make our finances more in priority with seeking first the kingdom of God). My mom leaves on Sunday. She could use your prayers. She is going home to take care of three ailing people, and now it seems one more of our extended family is in the hospital with extreme health issues (and another of my family that my mom is not responsible for also has health issues) Back to the school bus.. Except Mondays. School gets out early on Mondays. I don't know what to do about Mondays. Ben will be home for about 15 minutes from the time the bus arrives to when he has to leave for work. I have about a 2 hour window I need help with. OK - God can handle this. Last summer he held me back with roadblocks when I wanted to go forward. He has taught me to research but not move forward without his confirmation. He confirmed that it was him leading, when I began to doubt and wonder if it wasn't just me procrastinating. Then Ben came home and said they didn't know how long he would be on this shift. Could be a month, could be a year. Who knows. I started to panic. Should we go back to the plan to enroll in an afterschool program? But no. God has opened this door. We will follow it until it leads somewhere else or closes. He will provide. I will keep looking for the Monday solution. A look at the holidays and prescheduled leave showed that I was OK for the month of January with just one 'two hour' leave request from work for this Monday. Oh - and I have a previous committment for the week of Jan 23 I have to figure out what to do about. Then last night, Ben comes home and says that due to some qualification requirements - this Monday (three days from now ... the first day after my Mom has gone back to California..) He has to work his 7 am-3pm shift. Just for the one day. I don't know what to do. I am home sick from work today. Em's cough is worse and she sounds like she is hacking up a lung. I might have to take her into the doctor on Monday anyway which would have turned my two hour leave into a whole day. But that is not really a solution. I am looking at family care licensed people - as 'retainer' stand by for days where I have training or meetings and can't leave by 2:30 - and maybe for the Monday thing. Ben and I have prayerfully discussed if we shouldn't just get paid care in place, but we both feel very strongly that despite the extra stress on the family of having to day by day decide and cover any gaps in our schedules - that we should really give this thing a try. I was home sick today with this cold that Ben and Em have had since Christmas. I was up early, Ben got Em to the bus. Then I went back to bed and slept until about 45 minutes before the school bus was due back. I took some medicine, ate a Lean Cuisine pizza (not bad actually) and put a leash on the puppy and walked out to the grass to greet the bus. Em saw me. She broke into an all out sprint run across the park in front of our house. "MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!" Big Hug. Hardly didn't even notice her new best friend the pup. When I was describing to a friend at work, how this schedule was going to work - she said - "Wow. It will be almost like you really get to be a stay at home mom. You will be there when she is." Yep. Soccer Mom Heaven. Or just Mom heaven. If the lack of good, reasonably priced, Christian facilities in this town with a church on every corner filled to overflowing is what put on my heart to pray and ask God for more time with Em. If this horrid commute and a job that doesn't thrill me is what made me realize how much I was missing in the day. If this Soccer mom heaven with its mid week, mid day Awana, and no dance classes on Saturdays due to 'lack of interest' is what made me want to be home so my daughter can learn to worship her maker through the music and beauty that pores out of her feet, and can play and memorize and meet friends of faith, then I am glad for the challenge. But somehow I think that landing in this Soccer Mom heaven with all its adjustments is just a step in the plan to teach us to seek first the Kingdom.. to trust NOT on our own understanding. to trust each day in God's provision. I have always been the responsible, well thought out achiever. It hasn't gotten me very far. While I admit I have fear that I won't recognize when its me and when God is telling to wait or to go. I know he is faithful and just and I will choose this way. And by September, I might not even be working anymore. I don't know how that could be possible given the way our family income and obligations are and what God had been putting on my heart about giving ministries. But just as my life is his - and all provisions are provisions from him - he provides the security, not the federal job - so time and money are not mine and he will adjust and flow into what he wants to use. I surrender all. And I praise him for the daughter he has given me and the great things he will do in and through her. And I praise Him for his patience. I have been a christian for 25 years this month. Last year was the first year I began to understand the concept of fearing God. This last six months has been the first time in my life that I have really truly had the DESIRE to die to self. To stop worshiping feelings (as Alison put it) - to stop seeking my own gratification. The longing to hear His Voice and feel his presence is growing in me. I delight in hearing his direction and his correction (his discipline is not burdensome). My step mom with whom I regularly share these developments asked me -- didn't I think it was exciting - this new dimension in my walk with God. I responded it was scary. What Had I been doing all these years. I thought I was following God. And I was. But I was serving me. In truth I a still am. It is a constant struggle. But until a few months ago it wasn't a struggle. I didn't even try. Before I came to Soccer Mom Heaven -- I tried to put Heaven (the kingdom of God) into my life. Now I want to put aside my self/my life and immerse into the kingdom of Heaven. I find it a little bit amusing at the obviousness of it all, that the first thing I am lead into is to give up my need for control and a well planned schedule (which I was then free to deviate from) and sacrifice it for more time to love and serve my daughter with the cost being increased stress and more coordinated cooperation in my job and my husbands career. (yes, mine is just a job these days and that is ok by me). I don't think I am done talking this through as I don't know how this will work anymore - but I know that it will and for the first time, I am getting giddy at the excitement and expectation to see how God pulls this one off.


  • At 1/07/2006 09:55:00 AM, Blogger K Murphy J said…

    Wow! SO much going on. That really is a huge transition, and one you probably couldn't even imagine until you got into it all. That whole 'how much time is committed to job/commute/etc.' is huge. Keep us posted on the child care update... :)

  • At 1/08/2006 09:54:00 AM, Blogger romy said…

    i loved this long post - it is so raw and so honest, with that self-scrutinizing honesty that brings it right up to the bone. i love what you say about wanting to die to self. it IS obvious isn't it? yet so hard to do. and relinquishing control ... scary, indeed.

    thank you for sharing your walk with god here, mrsfish. as you say to gwen in a comment on another post - keep following. he will lead you, and listen.

    keep us posted ...

  • At 1/09/2006 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Sheila said…

    I've missed you! I'm so glad you shared your thoughts and struggles with us. Parenthood is a struggle, and the worst part is feeling like you are the person in control of the uncontrolable (is that a word?).

    Last year, kindergarten, I had a scheduling conflict. I had been helping out a friend with some childcare, which really made me feel good to help her, when I realized that I needed to find a mom to ask to help me, even though that was very hard to do. Hard to find someone, hard to ask a person for help. But God was teaching me that service goes both ways, and I needed to humble myself. I found a mom who was happy to have Sally come over in the morning, before school, and play with her daughter (who was in Sally's class). They walked to school together. Since then, we have become good friends, exchanging playdates and helping each other pick up kids from school when emergencies arose. She also invited me to her prayer group, which has been a great blessing to me.

    I don't know if this is possible for you, to prayfully seek out a friend who could help you out in a scheduling crisis. It took away much of my stress, to know that I am not the only mommy looking out for my daughter. It has worked for Sherry and Andy, too, as they scrambled to find help this past week in their medical crisis. We are not alone, and in your Soccer Mom Heaven, maybe there is a Mom who needs to be needed.

    Just some thoughts. Longer than I intended. Press on, run to win. Blessings upon you.


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