When I was in graduate school, a senior director in my ministry gave a testimony about taking day-long quiet days with God. It was such a great talk I invited him to give it 2 more times to 2 different groups.
But one thing he said has stuck in my craw ever since becoming a mom. His daily prayer involved showing up 45 minutes before the first appointment of the morning and having a quiet time in a nearby park or coffee shop.
As I’ve borne 3 kids and tried to work part-time throughout it all, I’ve often bitterly thought, “Only a man with a wife at home caring for the kids could do that!”
Since we moved to Winchester, for 7 years, 4 mornings a week, I’ve faithfully driven down Cambridge at 5:40 a.m., taken a spinning, strength or Zumba class, then still sweaty, jumped into the car and booked it home by 7:25 for a kid pass-off with Scott. I rushed through showering while cajoling my kids to wake up, dress, eat breakfast, practice piano, pack up lunches/homework and get out the door.
Each morning was a whirlwind. And then I sat through 45-50 minutes of traffic as I drove back to Cambridge to meet with students, faculty or staff.
But now that Ren started middle school, I have a new lease on life. The middle school begins at 7:45, 45 minutes earlier than elementary school. Because we’re mean parents who hatefully punish our kids by forcing them to walk a mile to school (uphill both ways), they leave by 7:10 each morning.
I have been given the gift of an extra hour each morning.
I no longer have to rush home from the gym to see kids off because they’re off to school before I can get back. Instead, I can actually shower at the gym, then stay in Cambridge for work if I so choose.
For the past 2 weeks, this extra hour to hour has been wonderful. Here’s what I’ve done with the extra time thus far:
- Extra stretching and “lazy abs” (ab exercises done while reading a magazine and lying on a mat–fellow gym-rats laugh at me)
- Take a leisurely shower
- Sit in the hot tub for at least 5 minutes
- Blow-dry my hair
- Buy a cup of decaf coffee at Panera or Starbucks to pay for sitting rights
- Read the Bible (I’ve been enjoying IFES’s daily read thirsty, and my church’s lectionary readings)
- Read a helpful book: I read Fierce Conversations over the past week–am sure I’ll be reflecting on that in days to come.
My kid going to middle school has made me into the sort of person who can give a talk about doing a great spiritual practice that will make parents in the future hate my guts!
I talked with my spiritual director about how while the driven part of me thinks I should get cracking on work during that hour, the rest of me resists. She applauded the decisions I’ve made, “Resist the work! Rest!” she said.
I’m going to try to do just that. After all, I’ve been given a gift.