This weekend I did something out of the ordinary. Instead of going to the beach alone, spending my weekend reading, cleaning the house, watching random shows on Hulu/Youtube/Netflix or any other thing that only involved ME, I invited community into my plans. I texted a friend with 2 kids and invited her to the beach. To my delight she said “yes”. I then sent a random selfie from my cube stating the typical “Happy Friday!” to another friend.
To which she responded, her Friday was not so happy since her kids were driving her nuts (there was a 4-letter word thrown in there but I’ll spare you). 3 out of the 4 kids are minors. They are restless and bored and causing chaos in the home. My friend was S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D. She works full time and goes to school part time all the while trying to hold down the home front. So, I volunteered to give her and her hubby a break, and take the kids for the weekend. Now I have no experience whatsoever having that many children at once. I’ve had 2 at the most and none of them were hers. But she was at her breaking point and I couldn’t help but see the wide open schedule I had. How could I selfishly use my down time when my sister was in need of getting some of her own?
So Saturday around noon I picked up the 3 little ones and by faith, spent the weekend trying my hand at motherhood. We spent 5 hours at the beach. My friend with her two kids showed up and our other friend and her hubby showed up and it was a “family” affair, all b/c I reached out. It would have been so easy to listen to the lies that were in my head about no one being free or wanting to spend time with me and therefore stay hidden away in my little world of “bachelorette hood”. But instead, people were desiring connection just as much as I was. It didn’t matter that in my eyes they already had loved ones and family to be with. It can be easy when you are single with no children desiring a family to isolate yourself. You can think that everyone has their “people” and go about your existence with just you. And as an introvert I really do appreciate the downtime. But when I want to connect it’s a blessing to know there are people I can go to who want to connect too.
I can see how God calls us to community and why we need it. My friend needed space and time away from her children and I desired the experience of having a family of my own. I definitely got a glimpse of how it feels to be “others-oriented” AT ALL TIMES. It was so weird to switch from just thinking about myself to keeping my eye on them in the water at the beach. Making sure they weren’t drowning. Hoping they were enjoying themselves. Planning and cooking meals. Setting up activities for them to be entertained. Cleaning up after them. Engaging in conversation with them and growing in relationships. Finding out their interests. Everything was all about THEM. I know serving my children will be a strong suit for me because that is one thing I know I saw demonstrated growing up. Being taken care of, fed, provided for and served in those ways was my experience. However I know w/o a doubt I did not get the full effect of raising these kids in one weekend. They were on their BEST behavior. There was no arguing or fighting or reckless behavior. I was getting their “representatives”. Not to mention 48 hours is nothing compared to 18 years. Still, I definitely got a glimpse. When I reflected on the moments I had with them, I realized that though there were moments where they were super cute as they followed me around in tow like little ducklings, and they would randomly thank me for my hospitality, it was hard for me to ENJOY the moments. I was so busy planning and working I could hardly BE in the moment. Part of that is just my personality. I am a planner by nature. But part of it is the fact that all responsibility was on me. Now, if I had a partner (spouse) that would hopefully help (otherwise why get married???). So even my experience this weekend was geared more towards being a “single parent” (which I have never, ever wanted to be).
That being said, I really appreciate the opportunity to see what it is I think I’m desiring. This weekend confirmed what God has been speaking to me as far as me wanting the “ideal” and not necessarily the “reality”. There was so much work involved and very little time for myself. I had to get my time in with Him while they were sleeping and even then had to cut my journaling short when they woke up. I know everyone is always saying to “enjoy your time” while being single but I can see even more this is b/c you simply can’t carry the gifts you have in this season into your next. The ample leisure time, time with Jesus, enjoying friends, etc…those things are secondary when a family is in the picture. Not that they don’t happen, but it takes more planning and they won’t happen as frequently. Your first priority is your family.
I do wish there was some way to combine the gifts of both seasons (singleness & marriage) but I suspect God makes it that way so that you will always depend on Him to endure the season He has called you in. And of course, cause you to depend on the body, to help you bear your burden.
Galations 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”
Fun in the sun…