Back to School Days

ecclesiastesOther than “What’s for dinner”, there are no other words that strike the fear of God in me than these six words uttered by my two teenagers as of late. Upon hearing them, my typical outward response is, “Of course. You can ask me anything.”

Inwardly, my response is, “What do they want NOW?” History has proven that the next words out of their mouths will typically require an action by me. I will either have to drop off or pick up someone, buy something, or on a rare occasion respond to a philosophical question about life. As one might imagine, I prefer the latter rather than the formers.

Like many, my kids are preparing for the start of school next week. My son has made the decision to return to college and my daughter will start her sophomore year in high school. Each has their own path to follow and I find myself slightly envious that their path is somewhat defined and just waiting for them to show up.

I on the other hand am about to begin my fifth month of unemployment with no clear path ahead of me. Despite valiant efforts on my part to secure a new job, my applications have fallen upon deaf ears leading me to think among other things, is a return to the 9 to 5 not in the cards for me? Is there something else?

For the first time since college, I have spent my summer doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This has ranged from doing absolutely nothing other than sitting on my deck enjoying the bountiful baskets of impatiens I planted in the spring to meeting up with friends for coffee to becoming a part-time Uber driver for my kid’s various transportation requests.

At times this ‘doing nothing’ activity caused me more stress than I can say and at other times, I was on my knees thanking God for it. The dichotomy of emotions had to be managed on a near-daily basis and I relied on my faith to carry me through. What it has taught me is so simple, so basic that it’s embarrassing to admit it publicly. While I can’t say I’ve mastered it, I’m further along than I was and am praying that it’ll make its way into my DNA before I cross over to the other side.

One day at a time.

 

impatiens
No – I’m not referring to the 70’s sitcom but rather the principle of acceptance that all I have is this day, this moment. To try to deal with the days and moments of the future is paralyzing. Each day when the beautiful sun greeted me, I had to pray for the grace to stay in that day, to not worry about the upcoming mortgage payment or cable bill, or whether my kids would have health insurance. I had to find solace that just for this 24-hour period, things were ok.

And in reality, they were. The important things anyway. Kids were healthy. I was healthy. Bills got paid. Friends were supportive. Sure I’d get the occasional hiccup that would have to be dealt with but in the scheme of things, all was well with the world.

For a single mom of two teenagers, now unemployed, this statement is monumental. All is well with the world. Maybe not the whole world outside of my little cul-de-sac, but my world. In fact, my world was so well that I can look back over the summer of 2016 and feel nothing but gratitude. Gratitude for the freedom and flexibility I had, for the gorgeous weather that took my breath away each day, for the projects I was able to accomplish, and yes – gratitude for the silence of the recruiters and job boards.

Soon that silence will be replaced with my kid’s activities or other responsibilities but for now, I’m enjoying these last days of summer, my favorite season. I’ve no idea if the fall will bring a job or other challenge my way. I suspect that there will be many more opportunities to strengthen my ‘one day at a time’ muscle especially around the first of each month.

No matter what, I know that God has my back and as long as I remember that as I sip my morning cup o’ Joe, I’m good. I’ll never get more than I can handle and if I ever think that I’m in over my head, I just have to remember that I’ve been given the grace and strength to face whatever is in front of me.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Jen’s Gem: Keep your eye on the 24 hours in front of you and know that all is well.

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Jennifer Covello, Copyright 2011-2024