Summer School Lessons

It's the half way point of summer, and life has been taking me to school.

One of my daughters has been on crutches and sick with sinus infections. One of my daughters has hit new levels of independence and adolescence (she's studying for her driver's license even). I launched my first book, and the first few weeks my girls were out of school my work load doubled with article-writing, interviews and social media obligations. I've been so emotionally frazzled that I'm losing stuff, dropping stuff, and may have added another dent to the front bumper of my car.

I hope we are grading on a curve.

But I'm learning some good stuff in summer school. As I was taking personal inventory over a cup of coffee this morning, I mentally assembled this list of lessons I've learned this month. Here's a smattering. I hope some of them are relatable.

No matter how many hours I have been present and available to my kids, the second I get on the phone, they need me. As long as they they live under my roof, while I'm on the phone they will gesture wildly, mouth unintelligible things to me, and -- in my teenager's case -- text me questions while I'm on the phone. This is not a sign that I am neglecting them. But as long as they live under my roof, I will always wonder if I'm doing enough for them.

Nobody likes to do dishes or pick up wet towels off the floor. The kids don't. Neither do I. If I have to keep reminding them, well, it's not a sign that I'm raising degenerate humans. They're just humans.

Anytime I'm about to do a live Facebook interview, something will go wrong with the technology. And though my teenager can help with many other tech issues, she's no help in this case because "Facebook is only for old people" and she has no idea how to use it. So though it's frustrating when things go awry, I can comfort myself that in some ways, I still know more than my kid.

I have grown in tolerance with myself. Here are a few things I truly no longer worry about:

  • Whether or not my house is messy when you come over. I may still announce, "My house is messy!" But it's really just a habit, and it definitely isn't an apology. I know you aren't judging me, and if you are, you'll never tell me.

  • Tan lines. The teenage and young-adult self that often had to wear strapless and/or bridesmaids dresses doesn't live here any more. Some places get tan. Some don't. Everyone is happy that this issue is no longer taking up space in my mind.

  • What I look like in a bathing suit. I'm 42, friends. And my "problem area" if I have to choose one is my thighs, an area that hasn't been covered by a bathing suit since the 1920s. So I'm on the beach, not wearing pants, and not worrying about it. Last week, when my daughter's friend took a 47-photo burst of me FROM BEHIND jumping off the sea wall into the bay I was okay with it. I kept the pictures. In fact, here's one of them.

And a final lovely life lesson: sometimes people can be really, really great to each other. The friends I wrote my book about have been stellar in their support. Friends that I haven't heard from forever, likewise. And the world of social media -- as far as female Christian writers, speakers and bloggers are concerned -- is a lovely you-can-sit-at-our-table kind of club. Women with a much larger following than I have generously used their platform to share my work, and I'm so very grateful. They've embodied what I hope my work inspires: non-competitive, encouraging relationships with other women. I bet they wouldn't judge my messy house either.

As we enter the dog days, may you be schooled in the ways of grace, growing in tolerance of yourself and offering it to others.