Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sabbath Stirrings

Last night I had an evening event which wore me out a bit. I came home feeling tired and cranky--the second night in a row where I was out past 9:30, which means not being home to tuck Monk in at bedtime. (I teach on Tuesday evenings until 9:00 and can sometimes make it home in time to kiss the boy on his head before he's drifted off to sleep.) My day always feels unresolved when I'm not here for Monk's bedtime.

When I got home last night, full of grousing and grumbling, I discovered D looking awfully worn out himself. Turns out the Boy (Monk) had had a pretty hard night, too. He'd broken down into tears several times while at his usual Wednesday night church program (our church has a Wednesday night Logos program for kids). As I heard the report of what all had happened--little things, but with a wallop of a cumulative effect)--I understood how he could have lost it by the end of the night. But I also noticed that woven through the evening, for Monk, was a recurring theme of his growing anxiety that he hadn't yet gotten his homework done (or even started) for the week.

D and I blinked at each other, once we both got done sharing about our evening's stress, both of us a little too worn out to be much help to one another. It was just one of those nights that was better dealt with by ending it--worn out, it was time to turn in for the night and try to get some rest.

This morning I woke up thinking about that need for rest. A friend of mine is leading a Lenten series on Sabbath this year. And this morning it occurred to me that my experience last night points to my own need for sabbath. I've discovered this past year, as I've cobbled together my two "part-time" (in pay, not in hours!) jobs teaching at the seminary and serving in a church, that the week's schedule never allows for natural downtime. Once the academic work slows (on Wednesday morning), then the church work kicks into high gear. When the church work slows (on Sunday evening), then the academic work kicks into high gear.

I think my forbearance was low last night because I was supposed to be taking the day off yesterday, but instead found myself out until 10:30 at night. When we're spread too thin, we lose a generosity of spirit.

I think that was partly, even, what was going on with Monk yesterday. I'm a little ashamed to say that I think we've fallen into the trap of overprogramming him: aiki-jujutsu two to three times a week; Logos at church on Wednesdays; Chess on Fridays; Hockey on Saturdays; Church on Sunday. I've gotten into a habit of letting him put off his homework until the last minute because I can never bear to make him do it during the week in his downtime moments. But his anxiety goes higher and higher, it turns out, as the week goes on. Letting him put off his work is not a favor to him.

I marvel at how easy it is to overprogram our kids. I honestly never thought I'd be the kind of parent to do that--I don't think of myself as the SoccerMom type. But little by little, interest by interest, we've added to his daily schedule enough to keep him going most of the time. Right now it feels like something's gotta give.

This morning all of our spirits were in much better places. Monk and his Dad woke up at 6 and Monk diligently and determinedly knocked out nine of his fourteen pages of homework. He headed off to school feeling much more in control of things, not overwhelmed by them. I was able to laugh at the things that had peeved me last night. And feel restored at least enough to have written this entry here (which is no small thing, to have energy enough to write).

But I want to keep turning over this notion of sabbath--for me, my son, my family. The press and the push to accomplish, perform at our best, stay busy all the time can be a demonic push that keeps us distracted, distressed, and dispersed. To stop, in such a way that we can become open to God's presence in our midst, now that takes a leap of faith.

Edited to Add: Monk came across this blog entry on my computer this afternoon. After reading it he said solemnly: "Mom, something's gotta give." -beat- "And I think it should be school."


cyen said...

Everything in moderation. Sorry to hear everyone was down, but glad to hear things have perked up. Sounds like an awful lot on everyone's plate. I usually take Sunday's as my day off to just chill and do nothing. It is much needed, and you have to fight that feeling of guilt in not "doing something".

Amy said...

I try to keep my meetings down to no more than two a weeknight because W totally loses it if I'm out of the house too much in the evenings. My "fear" of his meltdowns--which are not much different than a nuclear explosion :)--have forced a natural "sabbath" for me.

We have to get Monk and W together when you move back East--they are two peas in a pod! (Including W's favorite band being the Beatles!)