It’s an overcast morning in October and I’m sitting alone in my home with nothing but free hours stretching ahead of me. I feel as if I can breathe again.
Years ago I read a book titled Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. It was all about leaving room in your life, having a cushion, space, instead of running from activity to activity. He talked a lot about “the tyranny of the urgent”. It’s a hard concept to grasp here in America, because we have a tendency to fill up each second of our day. And I see so many running from fire to fire, trying to extinguish them, being controlled by the urgent. Or I see them consumed by shallow, unimportant details, such as the perfect color paint for their living room. Or scheduling their child’s life so full there is no time for them to just BE. I am guilty of living this way as well. It’s hard not to, but I remember reading that book and LONGING for Margin in my life.
At that time, I was raising my four girls and homeschooling them, so my Margin, if any, was minimal. Now I didn’t have to homeschool them, it was my choice. Our oldest was born three months early weighing in at 1 and ½ pounds. She spent four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Her life is truly a miracle. By the time she was school age, it was obvious she was quite delayed. I knew she was not mentally or physically ready for school, not even emotionally as well. I began to examine my options. Finances were tight, making private school unreachable and homeschooling seemed the best choice. So began our lifestyle, which carried on for sixteen years, our school growing as each child came along. It really worked for our family. It was a joy, a challenge and a blessing.
A first homeschooling was easy, but each year brought new challenges as the children grew and matured and as new babies were born. I never had easy pregnancies, always feeling flu like for nine months; it was hard to function well. Some years I filled the girl’s day with so many fun and “worthwhile” outside activities, that we were rarely home. By the end of the school year, I was exhausted from trying to keep to my self imposed “schedule”, which ran at break neck speed. The next year would be calmer, but then I’d forget my lesson and fill up our time the following year. I also made another crucial mistake. I didn’t plan “down time” for myself… the mother, the teacher, the organizer, the family manager. Over time, I began to burn out, but didn’t realize it until crisis hit in October 2004.
If I had only a little Margin before, now I had none as we were sucked into the world of childhood cancer. When in survival mode, nothing exists outside of endurance. This lasted for approximately two years. One year filled with treatment, one year dealing with the medical damage done by treatment and as we entered the third year, I saw the dust beginning to settle. I discovered emotional issues emerging, which had previously been buried, a bone deep fatigue and the crucial need for processing, processing, processing…hoping to make sense of it all. Homeschooling was out of the question and I enrolled my three youngest in a unique private school.
Last school year, I spent each day on campus with Joshua taking care of his trach needs, monitoring his recess time for safety and g-tube feeding him at lunch. School was a new experience for him and for me as well. He’d been isolated spending a large portion of his life in the hospital. I’d never sent a child into the capable hands of others, let alone a child with medical needs. The year went well, Joshua thrived as did the girls and I slowly began to relax.
This fall I trained the school teacher’s and staff how to care for Josh and what to watch out for concerning his breathing and neck safety. I let go and let other’s step in. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome, how caring and loving his teacher and the principal of his school are. His teacher is extremely comfortable with his trach care. The principal personally takes Josh and his class to the park for each recess all the time watching out for Josh’s neck safety. The principal has even eaten lunch with Josh, helping to cut up his food making sure he doesn’t choke. The tears in my eyes, as I write these words, tell you of my deep appreciation for the people who are Cor Deo Christian Academy.
And now, I find myself with Margin in my life. The very thing I had longed for years ago. I’ve always been a doer, task oriented, loving to check off those “to do “items on my list. After all, isn’t that how we know our worth? By the things we accomplish? How wrong I have been. My worth comes from my Creator, the God of the Universe, who happens to know every molecule of my body. He knows my thoughts, my heartaches; He’s seen every tear that has trailed down my cheek. He has watched me filling up my time, touching me with His quiet voice warning and loving me deep in my conscious, yet always the gentleman, never forcing Himself on me.
My husband has cautioned me NOT to fill up my Margin. I heed his warning, but it isn’t easy. Hours stretching before me, sometimes filled with grocery shopping or laundry, but mostly filled with writing, or contemplating God or watching the burnt orange leaves fall from our trees in the backyard or trying to capture the color of the sky on paper or watching squirrels scamper from tree to tree.
I sense healing. I breathe deeply.
I think I’ll take an autumn walk through the hills of my neighborhood now…