|A lovely Sabbath afternoon with my older son, coloring next to the pond in our neighborhood|
|The three of us out for our regular Sabbath afternoon walk. This was taken in late summer, I think?|
On the first day of November 2013 I had to run an errand right after school got out, around 3 in the afternoon. I was amazed by the gorgeous fall colors along my route and I found myself wondering when this all happened. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t driven in the daylight in almost a week. I had been leaving home before sunrise and leaving work after dark, and the changing of the leaves had always been shrouded in darkness.
This is my life right now. My day begins around 5:30 A.M. when I get up to make breakfast for the family. By 7:00 A.M. I’m at morning latchkey. That’s followed by a full teaching day. The afternoons are full with various extracurricular activities, staff meetings, and tutoring. I’m doing well if I get home by 7:00 P.M. The evenings at home are usually busy with planning and grading, running loads of laundry, folding clean clothes, and ironing. I’m doing really well if I can get to bed by 9:00, but more often I’m going to bed around 10 or later, and getting through the next day on a 32 oz McDonald’s sweet tea.
Sundays are busy too, with lesson planning, grading, and a couple of hours at Kroger to boot.
It’s not that I just love working. I’m doing this for my family, and every time Babs sends me photos of her latest trip to the park or library with the boys the work is worth it.
But with all this work for the family sometimes I feel like I barely get to see my family. So now, more than ever, family time is vital and extra special.
Three days a week I have Ezra after school until Barbara finishes her shift at the afternoon latchkey program. Elijah is old enough to be part of the after-school program with the CAA kids, so Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays are my special time with my second son. He occupies himself in the playpen while I do a few after school tasks, we go to the store together to buy supplies for the 8th grade, and sometimes we just hang out together. While sometimes I wish I could just focus on school tasks during that time, I also know that this is irreplaceable time with my younger son and I try to treasure it.
Elijah and I also have some special time together every day too (at least in theory—lately it seems we miss this time more often than not because either he or I or both of us get home too late in the evening). While Barbara is putting Ezra down, we sit in Elijah’s oversized easy chair in his room and read stories together. Sometimes he wants to color or play a game so we’ll do that instead. It’s only 15 or 20 minutes before Babs comes in and it’s time for bedtime prayers, icy water, and his cozy time with mommy, but it’s probably my favorite part of every day.
The Sabbath hours constitute the bulk of our family time. Recently we’ve started a Friday night tradition. We have a short worship to welcome the Sabbath and then color together as a family. Truthfully, we’ve only done it three times so far as various Friday evening appointments—dinner at a colleagues house, practice for the children’s church program—have interfered. But those two nights were wonderfully peaceful: the three of us coloring in a selection of Elijah’s favorite Bible themed coloring books while Ezra played happily nearby and Twila Paris’ Sanctuary gently serenading us in the background.
Sabbath afternoon is the other chunk of family time during the weekend. After a late lunch, Babs will take her afternoon nap while I take the boys. Our usual practice is to take a walk. We are blessed with lots of grassy space and even wooded areas to walk in our neighborhood.
|These photos were taken just last night...our first such Friday night family since October.|
|A page I completed on an earlier Friday night|
|We call this our secret place. Naturally, I can't tell you where it is, but it is walking distance from where we live.|
|We came upon this black water snake while walking on a Sabbath afternoon in late summer|
On rainy days we might choose to stay in and build one of the pieces of Elijah’s City Lego set that his “godmomma” Carol Paez sent him.
|While rain might keep us inside, snow demands a Sabbath walk! This photo was taken just today. Note our totally cool unfinished igloo/snow fort that we built on the right.|
Of course, a crucial part of keeping the family happy is having time for just Babs and me. And that’s what Saturday night is for. Most Saturday nights consist of a hot date on the couch, eating bean dip and watching an episode or two of Mad Men. With a life as busy as ours, those hours for just the two of us are as nice as any fancy dinner date.
The work is needed to keep the family fed, clothed, and sheltered, but the family time is necessary to feed our spirits and shelter our hearts. After all, the years will fly by all too quickly, and when we look back we may regret that we had to work as much as we did, but we’ll never regret those special family times together.