Many of you know I recently left my full-time job in an attempt to create some balance in our home and spend more time with our kids.
Whether they like it or not.
After several weeks of at-home training and LOTS of togetherness, I am second guessing my decision.
I kid, kid.
The summer schedule has been up-ended with irregular work meetings and training. The addition of summer camps combined with vacation has left us in a bit of a ‘controlled chaos’ type summer. It has been a wonderful few weeks but I’m finding, like many of you, we thrive with a structured schedule.
And structure is one thing we currently do NOT possess.
Last week I spent a few days volunteering at the amazing, week-long Art Smarts camp our local church offers every summer. It’s unlike any church camp I knew as a kid. The premise is that God has given each of us a unique set of talents, be it cooking or writing, painting or dancing. This camp focuses on allowing these kids an opportunity to explore a variety of creative outlets to determine where their own talents exist.
I remember attending VBS at a tiny church near my home when I was five. We filled tiny communion cups with tinier fuzzy craft balls to make a fake ice cream sundae. Slightly different level of crafts going on this week as kids made self portraits and learned how to do improv.
By slightly different I mean vastly different.
I was about an hour into the first Art Smarts morning and was designated to chop vegetables. I love simple tasks because I can execute efficiently and not look like a total fool. I hate simple tasks because they allow my brain just enough time to focus on other impending to-dos.
In this particular veggie chopping instance it was the laundry list of upcoming events, tasks, duties and worries that coincide with laying out our schedule for the remainder of summer.
My chopping led to a bit of anxiety as I tried to figure out how we’d navigate the childcare for the next month. The ‘controlled chaos’ is managed fairly well but kid coverage is difficult when a consistent schedule remains a moving target.
I mulled options over and over in my head. The flexibility of my schedule is a definite blessing. However, I’m hopelessly indecisive so sometimes one choice is best for me. As I’m working out the details in my head (and in complete honesty….maybe for a split second questioning if my new work life is going to be the right fit for our family……) I see a little blondie running towards me!
Our youngest daughter was with her class heading to their next adventure and she spotted me as she passed my class. She was SO excited to see me. Much more excited than when we’re at home and I’m asking her to help with chores. Surprise.
We exchanged hugs and kisses and I got a brief update on her cooking class that was “soooooo good….because we cooked strawberries and cookies!”
Sounded amazing. (God grant strength to anyone kind and patient enough to teach the preschool ‘cooking’ class!)
A few minutes later my youngest child wheeled by me in a huge, six-kid buggy/stroller contraption. I watched as he enjoyed his ride amidst the classes of older children. (I also became acutely aware that he IS able to sit in a stroller without making high pitched shrieking noises. Valuable information!)
About two minutes later a voice rang down from the balcony above. “Mooooooom, whatcha doing?!” My oldest daughter waved excitedly from her classroom above. Again, MUCH more excited to see me in this setting. Apparebtly we need to be at church more often.
Three kiddos seen in a matter of ten minutes. Only one to go.
We had a quick break in our preparation for the class where I was volunteering. I took the opportunity to check the master schedule and locate the last child. Who is actually the firstborn. The kid who started the onslaught of babies in our world. The boy who turned from baby to big guy in a matter of eye blinks. The munchkin who would be having another birthday in a matter of days.
I hustled to the gym but slowed my pace as I caught sight of him. His eight year old frame wrapped in a painter’s apron, working diligently. I could sense the concentration because his tongue was sticking out of his mouth.
(He inherited this particular trait from his mom. Apparently my dance teachers felt this outward expression of concentration was less than effective……or feminine…. during my adolescent ballet class years. Whatever.)I was able to watch as he finished his painting. When he caught sight of me, he was excited rather than annoyed. Huge success when you’re a mom and your boy child is precariously perched on the edge of ‘my parents aren’t cool anymore’ status.
I spent several minutes with him as he updated me on his projects and how much he was enjoying the class. He even allowed me a quick pic. Likely only because the photography class students were making their way through the room and snapping photos of the painters…..but I’ll take it as a win.
As I ventured back to my class, it dawned on me that it was 10 AM on a work day. I had just seen each of my children in the span of ten minutes. On what would have typically been just another manic Monday.
After years of desiring a better schedule and more time with the littles while they are just that, I felt grateful. The stress subsided a bit. I reminded myself why we are navigating the new schedule and controlled chaos and long trainings and weird limbo career feelings.
Because of four little artists.
A painter, a chef, a jewelry maker and a buggy rider.
A tremendous, heartfelt thank you to each and every person who made this camp happen. I witnessed the most passionate, creative, selfless individuals giving of their time and talents. My kids enjoyed their week immensely and I felt incredibly blessed to serve (in a very minor capacity) alongside these Art Smarts rock stars!
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