The unsung beauty hid life’s common things below. ~Whittier
There are days when I hate my alarm clock; days when all I want to do is march across the room and, like a cartoon character, smash it with a hammer, which is conveniently located under my pillow. It’s a ridiculous fantasy. For starters, my hammers are stored in the utility closet; I am much too frugal to smash an alarm clock I’d just have to replace; and besides, it would be messy, and I don’t want to clean it up. It is still a satisfying fantasy though. You see, I’m in a busy season. Some days, when I am feeling dramatic, I say I’m in a frenzied-season, because, truthfully, that is how it feels.
I work full-time, forty-plus hours a week. I attend school full-time, and I usually study between thirty and forty hours a week, depending on the assignment load. I have a mother, whom I adore, who has a number of health issues – matters my sister and me balance, and of course the rest of my beloved family. Then there are the numerous other things I try to squeeze into the week: exercise, cooking, cleaning, entertainment, sleep (Oh, I do love sleep). My plate is full, but I am far from unusual. Most American women – most humans – have more on their plates than they truly have time to manage. They are in a busy-season, too. At times, it feels like there will never be balance again; but there will be.
There is a reason why I say I am in a busy-season rather than I am busy. I say “season” to remind myself that this temporary. Hectic work days followed by long, study-filled nights are a stop-gap for me, not a destination. Every day I wake up at five a.m., with the desire to smash my alarm clock burning in my chest, is a day I am closer to the end of this busy season. I claim this. In the meantime, this busy-season is hard stuff. It’s overwhelming, stressful, and exhausting at times, but it is my life. I don’t want to put my head down and just push through it. If I do that, I am going to miss the beauty in this season. So, each day, I do my best to find something beautiful amidst the busyness.
My day starts at five a.m., and I am not going to lie – I wish it didn’t. However, I am discovering unknown benefits from rising at that hour. I live in an apartment building and a major road runs relatively close beside it. Between the road and boisterous neighbors, it is seldom quiet. But it is at five in the morning. The traffic is nonexistent and the neighbors are asleep. Silence fills my home, and I relish it. I probably never would have discovered this soothing early-morning calm, if I wasn’t in such a busy season.
My workday begins at 7:45 a.m. I am a nanny. I care for two little boys, who are six- and four-years-old. For those of you who have not spent a lot of time with children, this means I spend a lot of time corralling high energy into productive – and hopefully nondestructive – outlets. I also resolve squabbles that revolve around how Boy A touched the toy Boy B was thinking about playing with – not now, but in the near future – and convincing them that new foods are not automatically nasty. It is a wonderful job. I have never had one that I found more fulfilling; but it is hectic and frustrating, at times. There are times when it seems like my two sweet little boys have been replaced by mutant goblins because that is the only thing that could explain their behavior. Days when they cannot be in the same room together without stirring each other into wild fits of passion – and not the good kind. Sometimes, when I am already struggling under the weight of my busy-season, their occasional poor behavior seems harder to bear. But my busy-season has also enhanced my awareness of the innumerable sweeter moments.
This last week, I picked up what the boys call a “Christmas T.V.” from Hobby Lobby. It is a ten-by-twelve-inch’ box that looks like (take a guess) a 1950’s T.V. It has a snow-covered holiday village inside, replete with a train. When the ON switch is flipped, it plays Christmas songs. Since we got it, each morning before we leave for school (pre-k and kindergarten), the boys ask to listen to the “Christmas T.V.” – not just listen, but listen with me. So we troop into the den, turn on the “Christmas T.V.,” and then, with me in the middle – a small boy snuggled up to each of my sides – we listen. I have always tried to be aware of how precious my time is, with the boys. I know my time in their lives won’t last forever; however, my busy-season has increased my awareness of these sweet moments. I look for them those moments each day, and I find them.
My busy-season is coming to an end, or least this one is – I graduate in the spring. I know this won’t be the last busy-season in my life. The next season will probably be busy, as well, but in a different way. However, as I move into the new season, I will take the lesson I have learned in this one – about looking for and finding beauty in chaos – with me.