Lately, every time I give Hans a hug, spot him napping on the couch or simply call into his room, “Goodnight Hans!” I’m struck with the pure luxury of still having him home. Some days I only get small glimpses of Hans– he’s in and out the door, at school, study groups, tutoring, frisbee, madrigals, basketball games, decorating the school for the next dance or event, service projects, church stuff, missionary prep….
These days I’ll do anything he asks. He’s so responsible, doing so many good things, it feels like a pleasure to serve him. And he’s also the sort of person who never asks for anything selfish or unreasonable– I could give him my credit card and never worry about a frivolous purchase. Primarily, he asks for my time, my talents: helping with a video, chaperoning a dance, taking photos, baking, attending events, picking up something from the grocery store. Last week Hans was in charge of Spirit Week and Mary counted twelve trips up to the high school where we helped with something or delivered random objects (a peeled lemon, white duct tape). It’s busy, it’s crazy, but we have so little time left.
This week, Thursday or Friday, Hansie’s mission call should arrive in our mailbox in a large white envelope.
It’s so interesting anticipating a mission call. You can take the globe, give it a twirl and make a guess on every continent, every country, every island. It could be anywhere. Anywhere (with the exception of Antarctica and most of the Middle East). And then, all of a sudden, the call comes and it’s one place. One place and people who will change Hansie’s heart. A language he’ll love, food he’ll crave for the rest of his life. People he will teach and people who will teach him.
The earliest date he could leave is July 1st, but you never know with a mission call– he might not leave until October. April 28th will bring Stefan home to us and we’ll have at least two months together. All summer plans are on hold until we know Hansie’s departure date. I’m ready for his call to arrive, but not for him to go.
I’ve been thinking about my mothering. It’s a natural phenomenon with graduation looming in June, even without a mission call in the queue. Last fall the LDS Church put out a video titled You Never Know How Much Good You Do. While it was loved by many, it also received a fair amount of criticism for depicting the martyr mom who did everything for everyone else. I understand the complaints, and agree some of the scenarios are pretty unrealistic (the last minute science fair poster that wins first place?). But I’ve been thinking ever since about the beauty of being the person who makes life work for everyone else.
I am that mom. And this year I’ve embraced the privilege of being completely available to my children. Rather than resenting their needs as I have at times in the past, I’ve enjoyed (almost) every opportunity to run a lunch up to the school, attend wrestling matches, bake cupcakes, host parties, teach Mary, go running with Gabe. With every step, I know, “This won’t last. Enjoy it. This won’t last.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint. I get grumpy and tired and distracted. I’ve forgotten to pick up carpool or buy food for lunches. But we’ve been kind to each other; we accept each others’ failings and cheer for triumphs. I give Hans a great deal of credit for the peace in our home.
While I wisely cut back on photography work this year, I was ambitious about branching out in videography or writing a book this fall. But my intentions led to nothing but roadblocks and failures; I’m grateful for that now. It’s not my time; it may never be my time. I know that’s the antithesis of everything out there right now: “you can do anything” “follow your dream” “aspire!”
After one of my more spectacular failures last year, one of my writing friends sent me a note. She’s successfully published several books and navigated the new trend in social media where authors need to constantly promote themselves on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram… Writing composes only a small fraction of the time required to promote the book, be constantly available for interviews, book signings, etc.
She told me– and this is sacred to me, so I share it cautiously– “If I knew three years ago what I knew now, I wouldn’t have written the books. It’s taken too large a toll on my family.”
From the tingling on my scalp to the electricity racing down to my toes, I knew her words were true for me. Sacred. Like my own little message from God sent through another person. Now, I’m not suggesting her words are for everyone. I’m sure plenty of people can juggle professional and personal life just fine. But I’ve always known I don’t juggle as well as other people. I need a lot of sleep, I need personal time, I fall apart when I’m overextended.
Right now, I’m enjoying the last few months of Hansie’s senior year, my home filled with friends and music and food on the counter, one lovely 17 year old girl added to our family, kids who laugh and love and help each other– it’s a good dream.