Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It Happens Every Year

Every year around this time our family goes into "survival mode." Jon is working beastly hours doing taxes. The boys and I get into our own routine. We get along fine, but at around this time the stress seems to mount for both Jon and I and we "hit a wall."

Despite working very, very hard every day, Jon's pile of work just keeps getting bigger. The phone keeps ringing. He ends up having to revise returns that he thought were already done. He is tired. He can no longer sleep well because of everything running through his head. I try to tell him that the end is in sight, but that just stresses him out more because of all the things he needs to get done. I feel so sad and frustrated when I can't do much to help him. I make sure he's got good food and clean clothes and I send him out the door.

Despite working very, very hard every day, my chores never end. Laundry. Cooking. Shopping. Dishes. Cleaning. School. The weather is fickle... the boys can be outside one day, but not the next. All of us are getting tired of the school routine. The boys seem to find new things to fight about every day. I can't get away with friends or go to meetings or go to the store without the boys or just take time out for myself. I miss Jon. We can't really even talk much these days.

Meanwhile, the kids have more energy than ever.

That's just where we are right now. It's not the end of the world. I have friends who are single moms and friends whose husbands travel a lot. They certainly juggle more than I do. But I just feel out of balance at this point. My homeschool friends are all talking and blogging about plans for next year. I'm daydreaming about sending the boys to boarding school so I can go to a spa or something. (Just kidding... I think!)

So (Reenie and others!) that's why I haven't been blogging much lately. By the time I get the kids to bed I just want to watch some mindless TV, but I'm usually folding laundry and preparing for school first.

I've been thinking for the past few days about how difficult, but appropriate it is that tax season coincides with Lent. This is SUPPOSED to be a time for sacrifice. We make lots of sacrifices in our personal and family lives for Jon's job. But we are so blessed that he has this job. This is the time when he earns the money to support our family and to allow me to be home with the boys. The real challenge is for us to walk through  each day without complaining.

I've noticed that I'm not really "plugged in" to Lent, spiritually. I haven't been for the past several years. I think I just get mentally/spiritually/emotionally numb when I'm in this "tax season mode." And so I'm praying about that. I'm trying to just be OK with where I am.... trying not to heap more and more expectations on myself (as I'm so apt to do).  But then I wonder if I'm not really embracing the spirit of this liturgical season.

Last night I couldn't sleep. At around 12:30 I turned on my book light and reached for One Thousand Gifts, which I still love but haven't been reading lately. I opened to the page where I had left off.... and I had one of those "Holy-Spirit-staring-me-right-in-the-face" moments. It began with the Gospel passage of Jesus washing the disciples' feet on the night before he died. The author (Ann Voskamp) then describes her own process of trying to offer each mundane task in her daily life - dishes, laundry, cleaning - as a song of thanks to God. She quotes Mother Teresa: "The work we do is only our love for Jesus in action. If we pray the work... if we do it to Jesus, if we do it for Jesus, if we do it with Jesus.... that's what makes us content." I wash feet, literally and figuratively, every day. Because of Jesus' example and boundless grace, I can become a gift/blessing in and through all of those mundane tasks. This is where I am right now and this is what I'm called to do. I'm called not only to "get through it" but to find joy in it and to be a blessing in and through it.

There are a lot of things that my family puts off until "after tax season." But prayer and sacrifice and love and joy can't be managed like that.

What a blessing it is that we have the liturgical year. Again and again we commemorate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior. We learn and re-learn what it means to walk with Him, to carry our crosses, to become Love. We fall. A lot. Jesus is so very patient.

It happens every year. Tax season. But more important than that is what happens every day.... the opportunity to serve and to be a blessing. So I'm grabbing my basin and towel and bending low to receive the graces that God sends via dirty smelly toes.

** Note: Please don't feel too sorry for me. :) Jon and I have a date planned for Saturday with some dear friends AND I am escaping next weekend on a moms getaway to a homeschool conference. Also, please don't be in awe of my holy endeavors. Although I did offer quite a few unseemly tasks to Jesus today, I also pretty much threw a tantrum after dinner when the boys were goofing off rather than following some simple directions. So, tomorrow is another day. :)

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