Our morning routine on that first day back to school after winter break went flawlessly. My kids were up, fed, dressed, and packed for school 20 minutes before the bus’s arrival.
We even added in the coats, hats, and gloves for the first time this winter and my kids still walked out the door early that Monday morning. Someone pin a medal on us or something!
Only one word describes that afternoon: STRESS.
Before Christmas break, we had those Monday afternoons down to an exact science: Forty minutes between the time we get home from school and the time we need to walk out the door to ballet.
In those 40 minutes, my kids changed out of school clothes and into dance attire.
I emptied the backpacks and lunchbags. By the time we left for dance, I had their school folders cleared out; reading logs, behavior logs, agendas, and take-home folders signed; lunches packed for the next day and dinner made.
Wham. Bam. Thank you, ma’am.
But not this week.
We were a right awful mess.
Over the break, I washed all the dance clothes and thought I put everything back in the right dance bags.
On the contrary, my six-year-old couldn’t find her tights.
No problem, I found them.
Then, she had the wrong leotard in her bag.
A little more of a problem, but after some searching, I found it.
Then, her dance shoes felt tight and didn’t fit anymore.
Okay, I pulled down our bucket of dance shoes (I have quite the collection) and resized the child’s foot.
She put on her dance clothes, but forgot to take off her underwear first. (For those who are not dance moms, underwear under your leotard is a no-no because it shows and looks embarrassing. I actually Googled that once to find out how ballerinas kept their underwear from showing. Seriously.)
My baby girl and I had a good laugh at how much we’ve forgotten over the break and I asked her to change again.
Only then she put her stockings and leotard on inside out.
Bless her heart, I thought she’d cry for an hour over that one. She was just so tired of changing her clothes already.
This time, I helped her into her dance clothes myself.
I loaded everyone into the minivan with five minutes to spare, plopped into the driver’s seat and realized I didn’t have my key.
Then I spent the next five minutes searching the house for the missing key only to find it on the key ring exactly where it’s supposed to be so I don’t lose it.
It was an all-out miracle because I didn’t lose my temper or explode.
But I did cry. I sobbed a little around the house as I hunted for that key and called out a desperate cry over and over, “Jesus, help me. I know I’m a mess and I’m just not making it today.”
But here’s the thing: We arrived at the dance studio on time.
My daughter looked perfectly cute in her shoes, leotard, and tights (sans underwear).
I even remembered my checkbook to pay the tuition for the month.
It probably looked like we had sailed through that afternoon of craziness just fine. Maybe it looked like I had it all together.
Nevermind that internally I had one grade to give myself for my afternoon’s performance: F as in Failure. F as in good grief, Mom, could you possibly get yourself together already?
But oh such grace is this: We can try again. I know we’ll get back to that smooth routine and it will go better next time.
And, even if it doesn’t, Jesus isn’t giving up on me because of a lost leotard and foolishness over my car keys.
I read this promise in Scripture:
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22 ESV).
The rhythms of creation itself are a reassurance of the rhythm of grace.
Day and night come ceaselessly. I will wake up to a new day, a fresh start, an opportunity to try again and maybe even get it right this time.
More than that, whole seasons come and go with certainty.
One bad year of planting isn’t the end. Spring will come anew and I can plow the field fresh, drop the seeds into the earth, and look forward to a better harvest.
I can count on it.
The failures of one day, one moment even, are only permanent if I choose to give up instead of going forward.
Fresh starts and new beginnings: That’s what God promises us, season after season, day after day.