“Life is all about what you do with plan B.” ~ Unknown
When I became a mom, I had no clue what I was getting into. God blessed me with a chubby and angelic little girl. She never cried, smiled on cue, snuggled and sighed contentedly, and had absolutely no respect for my schedule.
I loved her like there was no tomorrow. And while I fed, bathed, played with, and put her to sleep, my underlying intention was to “put her on a schedule.” Silly me.
I was pretty darn diligent too. I fed her every 2.5 hours, put her to bed at the same time every night, kept the bedtime routine exactly the same, etc., etc. Yet some new variable seemed to always arise. But, I was young and spunky then, and I took it in stride.
Fast forward five years . . .
I now had a four-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, and no one was on a schedule. We were pretty close. Nap time was at 1:00 and usually went pretty well, meal times were 7:00, 12:00, and 5:00 with a good sense of regularity, and bedtime was at 8:00. I protected this schedule, gave up time with friends and family to keep this ironclad controlled structure as firmly in place as I could force it.
And still unforeseen situations kept coming my way.
Now listen, you who say:
“Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15, NIV)
Then it hit me. Not hard, because God knew I was pretty sensitive about this whole idea of “life on a schedule.” He kind of sneaked in the idea that maybe the people and situations that constantly interrupted my day, were actually some of the most important parts of life, and I might need to loosen up a bit to embrace these unplanned gifts. Ouch. I didn’t like this new revelation, but I couldn’t deny its validity.
The Holy Spirit was teaching me, and I wanted to learn.
During those early days God taught me a couple things:
1. People matter more than schedules. Children are people. My children are people. I learned it was more important to have children arrive happy and peaceful than on time and stressed out. It was more important to put children to sleep a little later, and share with them a special moment, than to rush them to sleep and miss out on something I might never get back.
2. Priorities can be our filter when we have a conflict. My ultimate goal was to raise children who loved the Lord and were kind and obedient. By remembering my ultimate goal, I was able to make wise choices when the need arose.
3. Having a schedule is a nice way of saying having control. Our human desire for control is not always in alignment with God’s will for us. He wants to be in control and wants us to trust Him. In my situation it boiled down to a trust issue.
4. Letting go of my desire for a schedule was humbling. Without my rigid blocks of time, I couldn’t keep my house as neat as I would have liked. If a friend called, who was having a problem, and I spent an hour on the phone, something in my house would suffer. I was sometimes embarrassed if a friend stopped by and my house was messy or downright dirty, but God showed me that being there for a friend was ultimately much more important than having an immaculate home.
5. Letting go of my schedule changed me. I learned to be more patient, I learned to be more relaxed, and I learned to give others a break when they couldn’t keep to their schedule. I realized that schedules are a good and necessary thing, but not the most important thing.
Fast forward 17 years . . .
I have 3 kids — ages 21, 19, and 9. Still no schedule. When one needs me, I drop everything. In the winter, someone is always sick, we have snow days, we have visitors, phone calls, unexpected errands, and we are okay.
We have learned that in motherhood, schedules are as elusive as an ice cube in the Sahara. And that’s ok. People matter, hearts and hurts need tending to, and laughter and teaching moments come at unplanned times.
In the morning, our day is placed in God’s hands and we submit to His leading and His timetable. We have learned that the unexpected is the expected and the flexible do not break.