Motherhood seems to be a juggling act, balancing two competing truisms: “You can spend three months teaching it now or you can wait two months until your child is ready to learn and get it done in just one month” and “If you wait until the right time, you’ll never get anything done.”
I rarely seem to get it quite right.
Take potty-training, for example. I prefer to potty train in summer, if possible, since then I don’t have to worry about changing all sorts of layers every time there’s an accident. Furthermore, I know that new babies can prompt potty-training regressions.
So when Beth-Ellen showed interest in potty-training last fall… I said no. I said “Next summer, after we’re settled in with the new baby.”
Now next summer is here and she’s ambivalent. She’s gotten used to walking around in a wet or soiled diaper. She’s gotten over the discomfort. She’s learned to ignore the body signals she was paying attention to last fall.
Did I miss the window? We’ll see. But even while I know I couldn’t have done it then – in addition to the aforementioned considerations, I was also in the throes of a pretty terrible depression and first trimester exhaustion, which influenced the decision rather a lot – I still second guess the decision.
Then there’s the school year. I made the decision to do year-round schooling based on my observation growing up that the beginning of the school year was a pretty stressful time because it generally coincided with a rather time-intensive harvest and canning season.
I would be wiser than my mom and would structure my school year so I could take time off or lighten my load during those types of seasons.
So I planned to start this school year as soon as we were settled in with the new baby.
Which is a terrific idea. But just as I’m almost ready to add the final touch to the schedule (the math and phonics programs)? I visit my family and they gift me zucchini and cucumbers and beets (Thanks mom and Daniel!) Of course, I can’t say no to such a generous gift, especially since I opted not to garden myself this year.
And so, here I am, finishing up starting school while shredding and freezing zucchini, making dill pickle relish, and canning beet pickles. And, like my mother before me, I’m going to bed exhausted from the effort of starting school and homemaking and parenting and canning. (Although my food preservation efforts are paltry compared to hers, so much so that it’s barely worth mentioning my not-even-two-dozen pints of canned goods when I consider her 300+ quarts.)
We can plan our timing, and we ought, to the best of our ability with the information we have. But ultimately, as Gandalf says in The Fellowship of the Ring: “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Or, as a far wiser one than Gandalf says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
And so, as mothers, we must look to the Lord each day, trusting that he has the proper timing in hand and that he will grant us the grace to potty train the child and get the canning done and whatever else he gives us for this day and the next and the next.