My children try to balance on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes it's on big bits of wood in the garden, or on their dad's shoulders in the swimming pool, or it's on a spinny thing in the park, or maybe standing on top of something smaller than their foot, as high up as they can get. And sometimes it's just simply standing on one foot. The risk is usually increased if their dad or an uncle gets involved.
They like to push themselves a bit; can they keep upright rather than fall to the right or the left, the front or the back? Arms out to the side, with the crucial element to any balance attempt - the sticking out of the tongue!
Sometimes they get it right first time, and perfectly balance with a quick shout of "Muuuuum, look at me". And sometimes they get water up their nose or a scab on their face. Somehow mine have yet to break a bone or even an uncle. And as we know, there are always lessons to learn from the little people in our lives.
Last Monday, I had one of those non-stop days. It started off like any other day, getting six kids up and fed and dressed, wishing I was one of those mums who did the lunches the night before. Sent the biggest off on the bus, then it was the school run. Home to put the dishwasher and the washing machine on. A quick dash to the dentist for a crown, followed by the weekly Asda shop, and after that some heart wrenching baby immunisations, with a nearly three year old who had A LOT of questions for the nurse. Home to unpack the Asda shop, while giving the girls some lunch. Cleaning the kitchen, while pureeing a vegetable for the baby, putting the washed dishes away and the wet clothes on the dryer. Then it was the school run, and from that point on, the day is filled with listening to, feeding and separating the six little people as necessary. Oh and a dishwasher to re load, with the decision of whether or not to make sandwiches for the next day. I went to bed, under a pile of dry washing and felt satisfied but exhausted.
Then it was Tuesday. Same start; six little people to get up and feed and get to school. And that was where the similarity ended. I built a pink den for my little bundle of stereotypical pinkness, and we drank tea and ate snacks. I was going to put my two favourite machines on, but didn't quite get round to it. I did fill up the tea bag jar, and that's about it. We watched far too many episodes about a pig called Peppa. Then we all had a nap, watched an explorer called Dora and then did the school run. We had a pizza tea in front of the tele, and the baby tried Quavers for the first time.
The two days were rather contrasting. The Monday looked pretty successful; clean dishes, clean sides, clean clothes, an immunised child, no spare minutes; busy, busy, busy. Tuesday looked like a bit of a fail in some senses; far too much tele, not the healthiest dinner, bowls of dried Weetabix still by the sink. (And once that stuff dries, you know you've had it!) And nothing greatly achieved.
What's the lesson to learn from the little people? Life requires balance. Maybe not the 'take a risk on a tall piece of wood' kind of balance. But some level of risk nonetheless. For some of us, we quite like the pink den days maybe a bit too much. Maybe it requires quite a push to not be lazy, and to aim for more productive days. For others, they may be all about the achieving and filling of every minute, and may not quite know how to have a slower paced or even restful day. And for most of us we have that 'Mother Guilt' whatever we're doing, or not doing...
My Monday, although successful in some ways, also left me feeling a bit bewildered and out of breath, frazzled and in need of space. My Tuesday was lovely; chilled time with the girls under a blanket of pink, but nothing got done which ultimately doesn't serve this family as yesterday's breakfast dishes become tomorrow's added chore! If all my days were Mondays, life wouldn't work for me. I'd be quite anxious and stressed to be honest. And as much as I hate to admit it, if all my days were Tuesdays, it just wouldn't work either. The house wouldn't get cleaned and therefore I'd probably be quite anxious and stressed, or maybe my family would instead. I need the balance in my life. I need the days when I get stuff done, including serving the husband and the kids. And I need the chilled days of rest, and time with my kids. Or I need both in the same day.
Thankfully God designed us in His image. He is perfectly ordered and pro active. He also knows what it means to be rested. When He created the world, He had days of purpose and achieving, and He had a day to rest and look at the world around Him. Not only do I topple and fall if my week doesn't have balance, but my kids are looking on. Do they see laziness, or overworking? Do they see me striving to achieve, or not that bothered? And more importantly do they see me leaning on God on both my Mondays and my Tuesdays? Thankfully He is available to me everyday of the week. And He has great grace for me, whether I fall to the right or the left, the back or the front.
So it's time to stick my tongue out and either go for a nap or bleach the loos.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."
1 Corinthians 15v10
"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he ed from all his work."