The first day of school is always a breeze. Never in a school year am I more organized and on point with outfits, lunches, backpacks, supplies, breakfast, dinner and errands than the first day. (I take a half day each year for first-day pick up -- until the middle school and high school days where there are athletics and after-school activities -- oh, and drivers! -- but until then, I do first-day pick up.)
Back packs lined up and ready with first day of school paperwork (Nope, still not in the military and nope, still not a migrant farmer and nope, still not interested in buying a brick to mark my family's life in this school district).
Lunches packed with sweet first day of school notes and clever 'mom-ables' (Not lunchables, gasp, never. Oh, and yeah, it's the first day of lunch so we use the clever containers and cut up the fruit and sandwiches. Tomorrow, it's back to cheese puffs and pre-packaged fruit bars.)
Outfits set out with monkey bar shorts, socks and shoes lined up by the closet. (We'll do this for the first week and then we do it day by day, morning by morning. Or as Caroline asked today, 'when can I pick out my clothes for school.')
I mean, this first day, I'm together. I'm so on top of things I could even be on PTA. (Ha, just kidding. Not taking that away from any of the moms who are really on top of things and can make copies and laminate and cut and staple and organize packets and decorate gyms for events and handle ticket sales at carnivals. I saw a mom walking in this morning with copy paper for the front office. Oh. My. She earned the badge today.)
First day of school, I win at fourth part. Yes, so organized yesterday, on a Sunday, I sat and watched DVR'ed episodes of Housewives. Yeah, I'm caught up on my shows.
Then, there's the first day of school evening and prep for day number two. Dinner made, outfits planned, lunches prepped (But it's cheese puffs and Nutella sandwiches for tomorrow. Nothing too clever. Got that out of the system today. OK, maybe I'll work in a mom-able or two over the next year.)
But, what happens if one of your daughters tells you her backpack is wet. Wet? Not from the rain because we made it into school before the storms came this morning. Not from a water bottle because we aren't doing that this year -- I mean, there's a water fountain, right? Not from the juice box because it was wet after lunch. How in the world is a backpack soaking wet, yeah, almost dripping? She blames a boy in her class. Really?! In an attempt to get a fourth part this evening, I whip out the hair dryer and play the trade-off game (from an earlier post) and dry that baby. I risked melting the plastic interior of the backpack, but I got that baby steaming hot dry.
Popped take-home folders back in with another piece of paperwork (yes, publish my girls' names and pictures everywhere!).
And, then, as I worked on putting together the lunches, starting on dinner . . . the other child is flustered. I mean flustered. Using phrases such as 'why is everything so difficult. Why can't things just be easy.'
Pause, mom, pause.
He needs to get a drug test done today for his new job which has orientation on Friday. He went by, he's called and he can't figure it out. I think of the millions of articles about not helping your kid and letting them get it on their own. But then, I sit in this moment. He's home for the fall semester. He's said good-bye to friends as they head back to school. He's not playing sports this fall for the first time since he was four years old. He's living at home with me, the fun sponges. He's starting at a new campus. He's already thinking about the school he will attend in the spring. He's starting a new job.
It's time for some help.
We jump in the car -- all four of us because I let the sitter have the afternoon since I'm home -- and head to the lab for the drug test. It's just minutes away and it closes at 5 p.m. Joke is on us -- sign on the door reads 'no drug tests after 4 p.m.' It's 4:13 p.m. I demonstrate how to ask for mercy and an exception. The lab tech responds with mercy and takes him back for the test.
It's 6:18 p.m. and backpacks are ready for tomorrow. Lunches are started. Dinner is heating up. (I even made some blueberry muffins for tomorrow's breakfast.) Outfits for the two second graders are picked out. The college sophomore is taking a quiz for his art appreciation class and is setting up his online classes.
I've a fourth part of the day. I chose to clean up this pile of stuff in my bedroom. And, I went through old art work and pictures as a part of that effort. A bit of memory lane was journeyed down and I thought, yeah, I'm a mom. I help. I'm no PTA superstar but I can dry a back pack and beg for mercy amongst the best of them.
The girls' devotion this morning focused on Psalm 4:7 where we learn we are filled with joy from God. That's what keeps us ticking, right? In the devotion, the story was about a little girl who told her sad friend a knock knock joke. Easy peezy problem solving appropriate for seven-year-olds but kind of a reminder to us that sharing our joy might knock someone out of a sad spot.
Because guess what, it's joy He provides that pushes us forward. I would curl up in a corner (along with the stack of first grade artwork and t-shirts for a one-day quilt) and never get up if not for His joy that fills me.
Tomorrow morning, day two of this school year, will require mustering up some joy from within as we will be a bit more tired and not as shiny and new as we were today. But, we'll have that joy.
I ask for that mercy everyday along with praising that gift of joy.