The first time (of hundreds) I watched Frozen with my kids, I was laughing at the similarities between Anna and Elsa and me and my sister, Jasmine. She’s the composed, elegant, rational thinking, head-turning-gorgeous character (who might seem like the main character). I’m the idealistic, slightly awkward (but in an endearing way, I’m sure), talkative and relational sister (who is actually the main character. Shush, Jasmine. It’s my blog and I can tell it how I want).
When we dressed up for Haley’s birthday in December as what was kind of an inside joke between sisters, it exploded into job offers. We laughed and reminded people that we are moms in our mid thirties, not Disney princesses. One offer was too good to pass up, so we donned dresses, wigs and makeup in 90 degrees to greet kids at the Northwest Washington Fair.
We passed out candy, had fantastic conversations with hundreds of kids (including two 5 year olds who belted out "Let it Go" for us), took pictures until our faces twitched, and then snuck into our break room to drink gallons of water and slip ice packs into our dresses.
I’d love to be a Disney princess. It’s not quite the type of business I imagined, but anything with my sister is a bonus. She’s kind of my security blanket anyway.
As we talked about the princess gig (between people asking for our business cards and website), I began realizing there are simply too many things I love to do…and this might be causing a bit of a quandary.
I planted a vegetable garden, made applesauce, and canned pears this summer. Whenever I’m out in the garden I think, “Oh yes, this is what I love. The quiet, physical labor and tangible gratification right here in my backyard.” Then I start to think, “I should do a greenhouse. How can I expand next year?” I added a few chicks to our brood, and we bred our bunny. I look forward to making the rounds; picking tomatoes and green beans, talking to the chickens, throwing scraps to the barn cats.
Oh, but I’ve also been investing in foster and adoption families. Now that is what I love! We are training and encouraging new families, learning from seasoned professionals about recovering from trauma, watching God work miracles in the bodies of little ones and hearts of families in this crazy process of attaching and healing. When our ministry team is planning events, I’m giddy. This is what I want to be doing! How can we expand? Impact more families?
Then I remember I’m still working on edits for my devotional that is set to be published. Writing is what I love! Oh yes, and I still have this blog…that’s what I want to do! I need to wrestle my thoughts out on paper. I have more ideas for writing and a couple unfinished projects tucked away on this computer.
School just started, which means I’ll be getting calls to substitute again. Yes! I love teaching! I was asked to serve on the Education Committee at the kids’ school. I want to…because education is what I am passionate about. Curriculum, interviewing new teachers, the role of technology in schools…I’m there!
Well…maybe before I get too excited about teaching at school, I should finish my outlines for the women’s retreat I’m speaking at in November. It’s something new and stretching for me but I can't wait– studying and teaching the Word is what I want to do.
My baby started kindergarten three days a week this fall. There was much preparation, a decent amount of anxiety and her perplexed declaration, “I don’t even remember why I signed up for kindergarten! I changed my mind!” Followed later by a perkier, “But I get to ride the bus, right? Everett said buses don’t even have seat belts!”
We marched up to the building the first day of school, her clutching the straps of her backpack and repeating under her breath, “This is it…here we go…this is it…here we go.” I took my own deep breath and followed her fearful but determined steps. It took all of my emotional energy to prepare her for the day and get her through those doors.
She did it. She did it with more grace and less tantrums than anticipated and just like that I was walking back to my car…alone. For the first time in nearly twelve years…alone. I prepared for every first day of kindergarten scenario I could imagine, but I didn’t quite prepare for the feeling of walking back out without any kids in tow.
People have asked how I’ll handle having all of my kids in school. They say it’s a strange time of re-finding your identity after spending 24/7 caring for little ones. They say I can do things like comparative pricing in the grocery store or listening to the music I want to in the car. (Say what!?)
The good news is my identity was never in danger of being compromised. Mom Shilo might be more sleep deprived and have more butts to wipe, but she’s the same Shilo.
Yet, there is a major shift taking place. I know exactly what I want to do with myself. The problem is, the list is too long! With a suddenly quiet house (okay, semi-quiet. The dog is needy with his favorite people in school, my sister-in-law is in and out, and somehow I end up with people stopping by more than I anticipate) I feel somewhat paralyzed.
I realize why I’m a little frozen. For years I never had to decide what to do. Wake up. Feed baby. Change diaper. Make food. Put baby down for nap. Repeat. We had “Grocery day”, “Bible study day”, and “Cleaning day”. Suddenly I can do more than one thing in a day (gasp)! For the first time in over a decade, 1pm doesn’t mean nap time.
Here I find myself, standing in the middle of my house, nearly having a panic attack. “I should do laundry. No. I should respond to emails. No. Budget and bills…what am I thinking? I don’t have to work out at 5am, I can do that now! But is that the best use of my time?"
Here I am, two hours later. I’ve done a little of a few things but haven’t committed to really doing anything. "Come on, woman–you only have four hours until that bus rolls in! Make the most of this!"
Deep breath. I'm forcing myself to slow and ask, "What, Lord, for this season?" I come back to my core priorities as options pop up. My priorities are to grow my faith, to create a refuge of a home as I nurture the seven people in our house (and 15 animals...at last count...), and to speak/teach/write God's truths in various forms (bonus if it brings in a little money).
I'm asking God for wisdom so my days can be intentional but still flexible. I'm adding in some new things but I'm increasingly aware that six hours, three days a week gets used up quickly. Because of that...I haven't ruled out that 1pm nap time.
When measured against my priorities, I was able to hang Anna's dress and tuck it into the back of the closet as a gesture of retirement. Cosplay doesn't make the cut on a regular basis (but I did comb out my wig before storing it. I might have an urge to build a snowman sometime down the road).
Just throwing myself out there a bit...