The month that valiantly holds all of the events, deadlines, celebrations, exams, and stress that every other month has shaken off in order to maintain life at a sane pace 11 months a year.
Even December doesn’t come close to the heavy lifting May does with a schedule that is impossibly packed, stress from kids’ exams, end-of-school projects, sports tournaments and playoffs, celebrations and awards ceremonies. And look out if your family has May birthdays on top of that…
Throw in massive doses of necessary planning for summer- whether it’s for vacations, childcare or just how to keep the kids creatively occupied for 2 months.
At the end of April, we parents get our game faces on, create our color-coded calendars for the month ahead and believe that through sheer willpower, excellent organization and a go-go-go mentality we will triumph over the monster of May.
There is nothing like May to test the seams of your fabric as a parent. Inevitably, there are going to be places where the seams rip a bit, and you start to unravel. Maybe some years you will unravel more or less than others, but it’s going to happen- if not in the family calendar or carpool schedule, at least in your mind and your sense of peace. Trust me.
Because of this, it’s good to have role models to help us in May. Think of all the glorious characters of the Bible who totally had their act together at every moment. Their names have been preserved in history as those excellent saints who kept their calm without missing a beat, stayed faithful, never failed or let their passions overcome them, never doubted, never feared, never worried, never wept… Yeah, I can’t think of any either.
May, my fellow Moms, is our biblical moment. It’s our unraveling. Like Abraham (Genesis 16-17), Moses (Exodus 5-6), Job ( the whole book of Job… poor guy), Gideon (Judges 6-8), Jonah (book of Jonah), David (2 Sam 1-12, and many of the Psalms), the apostles (John 20: 19-21), St. Peter (Luke 22: 54-62, John 21: 15-19) St. Paul (Acts 9: 1-30), Mary (Luke 1: 26-38), and even Jesus himself (John 11: 32-36, Matthew 26: 36-42), it’s the time when God lets the fabric of our plans and desires unravel, and brings us to our knees…with a beautiful purpose, a holy transformation.
Whatever you’re going through in May, whatever hot mess you have, someone in the bible gets you. Look at their example and follow their story through to the end. God never wants us to accomplish anything on our own- he wants us to lean on him, to let him triumph, let him carry us, let him succeed.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8)
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)
“Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, Yahweh declares, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
You CAN’T white-knuckle it through May.
With its end of year parties, exams, sports banquets, playoff schedules, and everything else, it is literally designed to tear you apart, but God puts you together in even better ways than you could have planned.
God loves to change our plans to his plan, resulting in something much better and richer than we could hope for. This is what he did with his own disciples. Embrace the experience, as frustrating as it is, and find the peace lurking below the surface of the chaos.
Our plans look like the calendar in May, his plans look like people’s hearts. Either one or the other is going to have to give at some point. Make your plans, do your best, and let him break them if he wants to. But when he does, recognize him acting in that moment and look for the people in front of you that he did it for. Who needs a smile, reassurance, help, kindness, or the gift of your precious time? Who needs to know that they are worth more than your plans in May? God will put them in your path.
There’s something so beautiful about driving up to the school or soccer field and seeing all the normally polished and put together moms hiding behind baseball hats and sunglasses- their day was too busy for a fresh face of makeup, or even a shower sometimes. The honesty of meeting another mom who smiles at you as you say hello, and then lets the mask drop as she says that she is not sure how she is going to get through the next few weeks is disarming and refreshing. I must seem just as unraveled to her (and I am…) when I adjust my own baseball cap, smile back and try to say, “It’s ok! You feel like you’re falling, me too! Let’s try to catch each other, and let’s fall on God!”
Let’s do it together. Let’s laugh in the face of the chaos and remind each other that God loves us with our ineptitudes. He loves our mess and wants us to give it to him. Our families are going to be ok! What he will do with it is amazing, if we let him.
Try to embrace the participation awards ceremonies that make you cringe, even if you show up late because you were driving from a 2-hour band practice 30 minutes away and have no idea what you are going to make for dinner which, by the time you get home, is going to be at 9 pm tonight.
Breathe, and dive deep into your soul to find a smile when your stressed-out teenager unloads on you because you are the only safe harbor for their frustrations while they themselves unravel. Teach them grace and love by showing them the strength of God that is there for them when they are weak, by embracing that strength in your own weakness.
Life is never going to be easy for our kids. Their own plans are never going to be perfectly executed in life; either we can stress them out with false expectations and fear of failure, or we can teach them to work hard and embrace the changes and challenges God gives us, seeing them as better plans than our own.
Shake your head and laugh in the face of the 48 Pinterest-worthy cupcakes that you signed up to make (in October, that glorious month of sanity where anything seems possible…) for each of your 4 kids end of year parties, but that you now realize you will not have time to make as you head to the grocery store bakery feeling like a failure (and wondering if maybe you should have baked them and frozen them in October….*life hack*…).
Let summer planning be bare bones. The best part of summer is the freedom and relaxation it offers. Come up with a few simple ideas together with the whole family. No need for 2 months of scheduled Momtertainment. Talk about fun things that will keep them off of iPads and Fortnite. Talk about the chores that need to be done in order to make the fun things happen and let them stretch their seams a little to figure out how it can all work for all of you as a family.
She’s there. She’s mothering you and your family. She’s doing all the things a good mother does- reminiscing about that time (I bet it was in May…) when she lost Jesus for 3 days, caring for all of your needs, accompanying you in your day, reminding you that you are loved and to get enough sleep…. Talk to her. Pray the rosary whenever you can, and let the rhythm of the beads and Hail Marys sooth your soul like the heartbeat of a mother while her child rests against her chest. Let her bring you to Jesus and give you to him.
Breathe, momma. Summer is coming. We got this.