Mom- The One Permission Slip You Still Need To Sign
Permission: [per-mish-uh n] authorization granted to do something; formal consent*
By now, you have signed your life away. You've pulled out every document ever scanned and stuffed in a folder, memorized your child’s doctor’s phone number and office address and are on a first name basis with the front office staff. You’ve re-written at least a half a dozen times who your child can be picked up by in the case of an emergency. You’ve provided records, documentation, immunizations, filled out forms that seemed important and some that felt like busy-work. You’re form-ed out. I know it. I have three kids in public school. ME TOO.
I was driving to town for the second time that morning. We open enroll our kids in city schools, but live in the county which is about a 20 minute drive. This in itself is not that big of a deal. Except the school system decided to have an hour and a half start time gap in between middle school and elementary school. One starts at 7:15 and the other starts at 8:45.
I work from home, so for me, this is totally doable. It’s just wildly inconvenient as my entire morning is tied up taking kids to school. This all happens again starting around 2:15 at pick up. Much of my day is taking kids places, waiting on correct start times for school, tutoring, soccer practice and again….waiting for them to be done.
I try to work during the day while the kids are in school, so evenings are met with loads of dirty laundry and stacks of homework, dinner that still needs prepared; leaving very little time for anything but the frenzy of mom-ing.
An unsettled feeling was welling up in my stomach on the way to school that morning. And it wasn't the half a pot of coffee that was spilling over the sides of my mug as I was driving on the back roads. No, it was more than all that caffeine on an empty stomach. It was a familiar feeling. This pit is caused by stress, anxiety. You guys know what I'm talking about? Just feels like a bundle of nerves has unsettled in your stomach.
Sometimes the pit sets up camp and I don't even know what it is there for. I mean sometimes, I know. Like if a kid is struggling with something, or finances were particularly rough that month, or there’s something specific I’m dealing with then, yeah, fine. The pit is still unwelcome, but at least I know what’s causing it. This morning I had to actually dig deep to determine what was causing the stress on my way to elementary drop off.
A conversation I had recently with a friend stood out in my memory. He was talking about a breakthrough he recently had in his personal life that affected his career. He told me his epiphany and I confusingly responded, “I thought you knew that already?” And he replied, “Yes, but for the first time in my life I am giving myself permission to be like, yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do.”
I’m telling you, that simple conversation has stayed with me these last few weeks. In my car covered in spilled hot coffee, I realized I needed to give myself permission.
This year I've had the opportunity to work with visionaries who DO BIG THINGS. I find other peoples' stories and adventures exhilerating and inspiring. So I keep a close watch on such people because I like to be challenged, pushed and motivated.
Some of my current role models include activists, some of which have founded global organizations, launched ministries and careers, & are best selling authors. It’s a deep breath of wild motivation but at times it all seems a little fast and furious. (Example, I want to be JoAnna Gaine's best friend but also I'm sort of terrified of that level of work ethic.)
How can I be equal parts ferocious and equal parts introvert who wants to hide out for days in my container home living room and read quietly for days (which rarely happens because see top few paragraphs, but #goals?)
I’ve lamented before about how quickly my kids are growing up right before my very eyes. (which will happen to all of us moms, career or stay at home. You can’t stop this either way.) I want to be available for them now. I want to drive them to school, be the one picking them up, the one waiting an absurd amount of time at the soccer fields, crying our way together through frustrating homework. I want to have a messy kitchen, I want to soak in every bit of influence I have on my kids in these fleeting days.)
But I have this nagging feeling that if I am that available for them….what if that means I’m neglecting other areas that I could be crushing?
That’s where I found the pit was hiding! Nuzzled between the deep recesses of “You’re not enough/doing/achieving enough….and You’ll never be like so and so…..”
Earlier this week my publicist posted an Insta of her and Candace Cameron Bure, a fellow Z author. I follow Candace on InstaStory (she is super fun there!) That girl, it seems, is always on the run. She's currently FILMING A NEW HALLMARK CHANNEL CHRISTMAS MOVIE. (I used to be embarrassed to admit I like those cheesy movies, but I can't help it. YAY CHRISTMAS!) There are so many successful and talented authors out there, that if I'm not careful, instead of drawing motivation, I could draw a nagging pit that lands in my stomach saying what I'm doing is not enough. (& to be fair to Cameron, her fast pace is not shaming- it's inspiring to watch!)
In my car that morning I uncovered the pit and told it to leave my belly. I need all the space I can get in there for coffee, anyway. I decided to sign one more permission slip of the new school year, this one unwritten. I decided to give myself permission to say, "Yeah! That’s what I’m gonna do.”
And then relax. Not worry about what I could be doing if I don't stick to my resolve.
Obviously I’m not an actress like Cameron (I ran off a stage once because people were looking at me!) I have a friend who lamented that she compared herself to me once because she had never written a book. And I know people compare themselves to her because she is a successful working mom who looks professional and juggles work, ministry and family every. single. day. We could go in circles and loops all day long feeding the frenzy of the we are not enough game.
But for me? I want to de-busy my life so I can spend this season taking full care of my kids. I have one who needs extra assistance and struggles with developmental issues. I feel panicked when I think of the exorbitant amount of time we will spend struggling together this year.
But it’s also where I want to invest my time. I want to soak this season in.
So I give myself permission to do it. And to be. And to not look at the paper beside me.
One of my favorite Bible Verses is still this:
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you…” I Thessalonians 4:11 NIV
Man, I’ve been over-complicating it. First problem: I’ve been minding other people’s businesses. (I’m looking at you, Instagram) We in ministry can get it so twisted these days in the leading a quiet life department. Sometimes it seems the loudest, largest, most high-tech group is the winner (chicken dinner. Sorry. I had to.)
I love this verse because it re-aligns my perspective about what I really should be doing, and takes the pressure off.
We get tempted to measure our success by money, or by how wide our sphere of influence, or our accomplishments. But maybe we need to give ourselves permission to chase none of those things.
What do you need to give yourself permission for? Because it's likely not what mine looks like. Maybe instead of letting things, go, it's your time to pick something up, to chase something,
p e r m i s s i o n
to focus, dream, spend time on, and turn your attention and resources to a certain thing, or maybe, like me, it is to take a season to retreat, re-group and invest and enjoy your family.
Whatever it is, if that nagging, unwelcome pit has tried to take up residence inside you, claiming you're not enough/doing/accomplishing/enough, join me in signing the last permission slip of the school year (ok it will surely not be the last) but probably will be the only one you sign for yourself.
I__________ give myself permission to ____________.
Simply leave your name in the comments to add your signature. OR better yet, write out your own custom permission slip. Print it out on pretty paper. Sign it. Hang it over your desk, beside your bed, or fold up inside your favorite journal.