Happy Labor Day weekend (in the U.S., that is)! Many of my friends and neighbors are taking the weekend to get out of town and have a short vacation. I’m spending my weekend much like my summer — trying to dig out of the holes I seem to get myself into.
My Son’s Room
Consolidating my son down into one room instead of two is one of the big tasks of the weekend. I knew it would be emotionally taxing, but it’s still a little tougher than I really wanted it to be. I find my heart being torn a little by the memories that the belongings he left behind evoke. I wonder why he felt the need to leave those things behind — did he really want to forget all about his life before moving in with his dad?
I find myself wondering if I should have “played the game back” with my ex-husband. I cried, I prayed, and I sought solid advice as I watched him play “Disneyland dad” and tell the kids that everything would be ok once they could move in with him. I could tell by the attitudes the kids would come home with that he was undermining my authority by convincing the kids that I was a control freak who had no right to try to get them to do what I wanted (like keep their rooms clean and get good grades in school). He disparaged the religion he agreed they should be raised in, and has refused to continuing raising them by its standards and allowing them to “choose” not to go to church. He deliberately (or carelessly) plans things for Sundays that divide their loyalties and makes it easier for them to walk away from their faith than to live it.
The truth is, I know in my heart that fighting back in his manner would have simply made everything worse for the kids. I chose to be the “bad guy” and do the best I could to be a strong stable parent — knowing that I would eventually lose the kids. Even so, the rejection hurts. Friends try to assure me that they will come back, but I can’t see it. Their childhood was too fractured and dysfunctional. There needs to be a lot of bridge-building done, but my hands are tied because my schedule is full with work and such.
New Working Circumstances
I am trying hard to focus on the blessings of being in a school district where there are truly no “bad” schools. Every school I work in has the mindset of giving children the best education possible, and parents are largely supportive of the efforts. No, the challenge this year is divided loyalties. My “new” school has the power of hire and fire, and it requires a lot of time beyond the school day for community functions and such. I’m still trying to do as much as I can for my “old” school, because my heart has been there for 7 or more years, and my colleagues have become my family. The children are “my kids,” and I am totally invested in their progress. I’m doing double duty, and it’s cutting into other vital things that I need to accomplish to keep my life in balance.
I was talking with a friend the other night, and she was surprised that my physical fitness goals were set so low for the school year. All I can really imagine doing is staying as close as I am to my fitness level now so that I can build again next summer. I don’t have the time to push like I did, my sleep suffers because of my crammed schedule, and I have to be careful not to hurt myself because my body isn’t recovering completely between workouts.
On the bright side, I’ve lost abotu 63 pounds over the course of the last 4ish years, and my energy level is through the roof. I’m within 10 pounds of my lightest post-marriage weight, and it’s healthy this time — rather than just not being able to eat from anxiety. Things could be much, much worse.
My Personal Spirituality
My level of spiritual fitness also suffers during the school year — for the same reasons that my fitness level does. It takes a lot of time to do the study and prayer that my heart longs for. With all of the extra-curricular demands on my time, the hours that I would spend in study, prayer, and searching for ways to serve others have to be allocated elsewhere. “Dieting” for “spiritual weight loss” just doesn’t appeal to me. I can feel some of the power and joy slipping out of my life. I’m counting on the promises that if I’m doing what I can, God steps in and takes care of the rest, but I’d prefer to have the time to study and pray instead.
What Am I Learning?
All of this pondering and “spinny thinking” would be pretty pointless if I wasn’t learning something from it. In no particular order, here are the things I’m thinking I’m getting out of these experiences:
- Even if I feel a little weaker spiritually, I’m not losing all of my progress and learning. Because of the experiences I’ve had that have helped me learn who God truly is and how much He and My Savior love me and are watching over me, I have more faith and trust.
- Because of that trust, I can hold onto a promise given to me in a priesthood blessing — that nothing that befalls me this year can thwart God’s purposes and plans for me. I can also trust that if the principle is true for me, it is true for my kids and others that I love, as well.
- Life is good. Tough times come, and tough times go. A lot of the amount of “tough” that I have to deal with in any situation depends on my mindset. If I am seeking the good, life is actually easier because even the truly tough times don’t look so tough.
- God makes up the difference, and He provides. As much as I would love to have the family connections I’m missing restored, as much as I would like to be able to spend all of my time building and lifting the people who are important to me, I can’t. I’ve been blessed to see what a great job I have and the power I have to touch and shape the lives of children.
I’m sure there are other lessons that I should add, but these are the ones I see right now. I know people who try to go through life ignoring God and without the certainty that the life they are leading is pleasing to Him. I don’t know how they do it. Heavenly Father is my best friend.