The month of May is nuts. At least it is for me and my clan. If you have children in K-12, I assume it’s probably crazy for you too. So many activities as the school year draws to a close – vying for space on my calendar. There are end- of -semester projects and tests, performances and show-offs for every extra curricular, and parties and partings galore. May is one long curtain call, except no one is applauding OUR hard work and dedication. No one is throwing gifts or accolades to the parents, and thankfully, no one will publish a review when it is all over. Others are way too busy themselves to pay attention to us. I’m grateful, because I…am…tired. My kids’ activities may double, but my time does not. I still have the same hours to put in at work, the same chores to do at home, and the same relationships to maintain. So this morning I took a little vacation in my head. I didn’t go to some exotic or tropical locale. I took a trip back to my childhood backyard.
If I close my eyes I can imagine opening the screen door and stepping out into playtime. Behind the yellow house on Rita Street there is no schedule to keep, no chores to do, and no responsibility. I’m only restricted by my own imagination. The swing set beckons me to stretch my muscles by hanging from the monkey bars, and test my strength by pumping my legs on the swing – higher, higher, higher – until the legs on the set pull up out of the ground with my efforts. This frightens me enough to slow down – a little – for the moment.
The emerald grass (sometimes soft, sometimes prickly) provides ample room to practice softball- if one of my sisters or a neighbor friend agrees. That perfectly worn glove on my hand is summer, whether practicing my pitching or simply playing catch. When my arm gets tired, my dog is there running around the yard with me. We can lay in the grass and cuddle or wrestle. And any time I need assurance of my safety, I only need to look up at the kitchen window where my Mama is watching over me while she works.
My favorite part of the yard is the back corner where my Papa built a sandbox under a sprawling tree. The dirt, and all the toys and tools I find to manipulate it, entertain me for hours. And by pulling a water hose over to it, I can change the consistency and the creativity it sparks. I can climb up to the simple tree house to rest and change my perspective, and if I see a shed locust skin stuck to the bark, I will pluck it off to add to the collection I already have in a bucket. When I tire of the heights, I climb back down into the box and dig for earth worms. I cover myself with layers of dirt.
When the time comes that I MUST go back inside, I strip off my socks and shoes and even leave my filthy clothes by the door to protect my mom’s housework. And I step back through the screen door, returning to my busy life. The mental vacation was great while it lasted, but May (or Mayhem) calls me back to the present. I will do my best to finish the school year strong (we are almost there, weary parents), and when it gets to be too much, I may find myself in the yard on Rita Street again. Or better yet, I’ll carve out some time for that kind of fun with MY kids.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus