07 Mar 2012

On surviving the crush of the morning rush

It occurs to me how much I miss on the days when I’m frustrated.

On the days when I hurry them through brushing teeth and climbing bunk bed ladders and demands for just one more sip of water. On evenings when I rush and mutter and long for the solace of bed and laptop and online. On mornings when I rush to find lost shoes, chug down honey nut Cheerios and pack lunches and stuffed bears.

How much does the rush cost me?

We want to be on time, yes. But on time and frayed around the edges, on time and in tears, on time and relieved to be parting ways is no one’s win-win.

The rush is all mine. I can choose to shelter them from it or not.

The clock is all mine. I can choose to dictate from it or not.

The rhythm is all mine. I can choose to dance to it or not.

Because the melody of any day ebbs and flows around a mother’s mood.

And if I can set my mood by the desire to send them off at peace and full of the knowing that they mattered then they will have a gift to unwrap the rest of the day.

Knowing that they mattered to their mother more than her to-dos.

And yes, I hear you saying that there are things we can’t actually be late for. And to-dos must be done sometime or lives will unravel. I agree, I do.

But I am learning to tell the difference between the rush of the doing vs. the gifting of the doing.

I am learning to spot the wonder in the ordinary. Because if it is all a gift to me from the Father who gives good things, why don’t I re-gift it to my kids before we rush out the door?

Time and again I have to reel my fast, wagging, frustrated tongue in and slow down the crazy that’s about to spill out of me. And because we do still need to be on time these are the things I’m trying out in order to get us there with tempers and kind words in tact:

This doesn’t make breakfast any more nutritious than a bowl of cereal or a bagel and cream cheese most mornings. But it does make us all feel filled up in the ways that matter most. Some mornings we still snap and no one brushes their teeth and car doors are slammed. But other mornings – more mornings these days – there is time factored in for slow. Time factored in for connecting before parting.

We don’t have big prayers or profound Bible readings – but we have the heart of the thing. The rhythm of secure kids and restrained parents. There is give and take. An episode of Mighty Machines if breakfast is eaten. Time with the hamster if teeth have first been brushed. A half hour of swashbuckling in the yard if they’re dressed in full ready-to-leave-from-the-yard-when-mom-calls clothes.

If I want our kids’ morning routine to work I have to work the hardest at keeping it together. Myself first. My tongue, my temper and my temptation to dish out blame for being late.

So I take a deep breath when I’m lying there listening to Zoe start to wake up, before I can will myself out of bed. I take a deep breath and picture the hand of the carpenter who lived over 2,000 years ago – rough and strong and tender – ready to lead me into the dance. There will be crazy and whining and bed head. There will be the same red cereal bowl and yellow spoon Micah’s used a hundred mornings before.

There will be trails of socks and cries that someone is out of undies. There will be missing library books and someone who insists on wearing his camouflage pants again. There will be a raggedy toy bear and a baby that trails around behind every body, unpacking everything.

But on the very best mornings, oh yes on the best mornings, there will also be dancing at our house.


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  1. 1

    I completely love this and agree! I learned it awhile ago when we would rush to get to church on time. For what? To be mad at my husband or frustrated I hated what I was wearing? God didn’t want me to enter his house of worship like that. He’d rather me be late. Now I take my time…if we’re late anywhere it’s not as bad as my children or husband having hurt feelings or our family being in disaray. Thank you for the beautiful reminder!
    xo Leigh

    • 2

      When my children were very little, my husband and I decided that we didn’t want any arguing on the way to church. We had heard the stories from older families and we decided that it wasn’t worth it.

      My husband, who is a musician, backed off for years, and if we were late, we were late on Sunday morning, no big deal.

      I am in a different season of parenthood now. 15, 13 an 11. We’re involved in music and at church very early. The younger two want to sleep in a little. We’re trying to figure it out. But the last thing I want to do is fight about church.

  2. 3

    I am a homeschooling mom, and I have two days a week to be on time. And this line will hit me twice a week for a very long time: “My tongue, my temper and my temptation to dish out blame for being late.” Thanks for the words of a wiser mama, Lisa-Jo. I needed to hear these at the end of our busiest day of the week.

  3. 4

    “And picture the hand of the carpenter”……..beautiful thought! I want to do this too.

    “And a baby that trails around…..”. That made me smile, soon Chloe will be trailing behind too. :)


  4. 5

    OMW! That’s exactly how I felt this morning! What is a couple of minutes in the greater scheme of things? I want loves and cuddles, not shouts and stomping, and it’s up to me to make it like that. She’s proud of being able to put her own shoes on – take those extra 2 minutes to let her!

  5. 6
    CharlaMaxine says:

    I really needed to read this. Thank you. I’m a single mum to a beautiful 11 1/2 mos old. It kills me that Life tends to dictate how my day’s going…but, only because I allow it. It’s difficult to step back, take a breath and just let all the bad go; to remember that – in the Grand scheme of things – the happiness of little man looking up at me from his changing table, or hanging on my pants wanting picked up-just-to-be-put-down AGAIN, is what matters…all the rest can take a breath, too. Thank you!

    • 7
      thegypsymama says:

      Anytime Pete’s out of town for business and I get a taste of single mom-ness, it occurs to me all over again how hard and tiring it can be and what heroes all those moms are. You are awesome and wonderful and totally deserve a super hero cape!!

      • 8

        Ahhh…thank you. Every mom is a super hero. Being a single DOES make things more difficult, but the rewards are proportionally grand!! :-)

  6. 9

    Long time reader, first time commenting but wow! Powerful!
    You really have a beautiful way with words!

    • 10
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh I love when I hear from first time commenters! Howdy Simone – thanks for piping up today. Happy Wednesday! :)

  7. 11

    Oh, this sleepy mama heart needed this this morning. I read it right before my girls got up today, and I was cranky because the baby interrupted my quiet time…again. It made me pause and pray. And our morning was so much smoother! Thank you!

  8. 12

    love this. just love it. and just what i needed to be reminded of this day. it’s my choice, really. each and every day, I CHOOSE TO SET THE TONE. if it gets ugly, it’s really no one’s fault but mine. they follow what they see set before them.
    thanks so much for putting this into words!

  9. 13

    This is just beautiful!! Thanks for this and all your wonderful writing. Blessings, Angela

  10. 14

    Oh yes. All of this, Lisa-Jo. I am taking this to heart this morning as I am the worst offender when it comes to the crushing rush of days. Resolving to take it slower, to be more patient and intentional about the words and moments that I am often guilty of cramming in and shoving here and there. Deep breathing relief in your words today. Blessings, my friend.

    • 15
      thegypsymama says:

      Yes, it was sort of liberating for me to discover that how we rushed we all feel really is up to me – I know, right? Why’d it take me that long to just put 2 and 2 together!

  11. 16

    So true and relevant to a “moms plight” that I linked to it on my own blogpost today!
    Thank you for your constant authenticity, it is very helpful.

  12. 17

    Thank you for this much needed reminder this morning . You both broke my heart AND refreshed it with new vision for what our days can look like. I am a home schooling mama with nowhere to be most days, except for home, and yet I can be so dictated by the clock and my waggling, complaining tongue…Uuggh.
    Guess what? I think we’re gonna dance before school starts today!

    • 18
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh yayayayyayayay! I totally recommend it. We’re all the better for some time spent boogie-ing to some country tunes or South African gum boot dancing in the mornings. For reals – it’s great for the team spirit!


  13. 19

    This made me cry. I stopped mid-morning rush to read it. Beautiful. Made me notice my children as I gulped down my last mouthful of tea. Thank you.

  14. 20

    oh, how very good for me to read. Thank you.

  15. 21
    Julie Marie says:

    I just read this, in my pajamas, thankful that today we do not have to rush off to preschool. Thank you for this powerful reminder to slow down and not turn into grouchy-yelling-“I will NOT be late because of you”-mama. My days flow better when I get my tired rump out of bed earlier than the kiddos so I can shower and read my Bible…something I need to be more consistent with. I’m new to your blog…and I thank you for sharing your God-given talent…you bless us all and I’m glad He’s working through you to reach us, the mamas down in the trenches :).

    • 22
      thegypsymama says:

      Hey Julie,

      I’m wretched at getting up early – I just don’t think that’s ever gonna happen for me. I love my late night time too much. But I have learned that if that’s the case, I have to plan accordingly and decide before I get out of bed what my attitude will be and how to block in buffer time so that we all make it out the door together and on time. I figure, if I’m not prepared to get up early, then it’s my shower and make up that will have to take the hit in order for everyone else to make it out ready and in good moods :)

  16. 23

    Wise, tender reminders. Thank you for being so transparent. For the past few months, I’ve tried to be a gentler morning Mama to my resistant-to-waking-on-school-days-teenage-boy. Hot cocoa helps. So does a cheerful, loving voice. Thank you for helping me to know I’m not the only one who struggles with setting the tone of my home.

    • 24
      thegypsymama says:

      Hot cocoa? Oh what a lovely idea! Can you come over and help me wake up to some too? :) I’m so keeping that in mind for my guys when they’re older. Love that.

  17. 25

    “Say words that sound good stuck on repeat” woke me up! What a simply profound thought that I can put into practice today! Thank you for this post.

    Be Well,
    Heather @ Find That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

  18. 26

    I began really learning some of these things when my 3rd child came along. Life has been different for him than his older brothers because of God’s transforming work in their mom! I wish I could go back for more than a few “re-dos” but since I can’t, I choose to trust that God will fill in where I utter missed the mark!

    Glad for the lessons you are learning!

  19. 28

    Why is this so much harder than it sounds? I’m guilty. I was raised to believe being on time shows respect, which is very important obviously — and have even thought it’s better not to go at all than to be late to something.
    But sometimes, no matter how much time I buff, life happens. And I crush spirits with my snarl. oh my.
    Striving to shift my priorities to where they should be.
    love trumps all.
    Thanks for stirring my heart today, Lisa-Jo!

  20. 29

    Thank you so much for this!! I thought I was the only frustrated, crazy morning mama. This is something I’ve been working on with the Lord and myself…you described it all so perfectly. “That is ME!” I thought. Even down to the Mighty Machines episode! (I have two little boys.) God bless you for sharing and opening your heart to us out here in blog-land.

  21. 30

    All the littlies are grown and out, but I can still remember trying to fit one more thing in before it was time to leave and ending up with time short. After reading, I thought I would have been a calmer, less frustrated mom (at times) if the one more thing had been the children. So now I can use these thoughts with myself and the Farmer. I like the picture of Christ’s hands guiding, to day I still need those hands.

  22. 31

    I found this extremely encouraging and uplifting…I am not always the happiest person to be running late and find most mornings to be frustrating if something goes wrong. It is nice to be reminded that I am not the only one and that I can do something about it! :) I need to remember to take the time to enjoy the moments and treasure the memories for very soon my 9 month old will be one and the moments will be past! Thanks for writing your heart.

  23. 32
    Lisa Milman says:

    What perfect timing you have for this. Our house is near chaos some mornings and I know I can control it all but find it near impossible some days to hold my tongue. Yesterday Morgan told me when I picked her up that Ms Green asked her why she looked so sad when she came into school and she said “cause my Mom yelled at me” (instant heartbreak and guilt thank you very much). Thanks for letting me know it’s not just me, I’m not the worst Mom in the world and that I just need to take that breath before getting out of bed in the morning. Here’s to not sending my daughter off to school with a tear in her eye anymore!

    • 33
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh man, I’ve so been there too! It’s just plain hard. And also the reason I’m often still in PJs at school drop off time because it took all that I had just to hold onto my sanity – forget blow drying my hair too! Ha!

      See you Friday :)

  24. 34

    This right here??? This is what I needed most when I was mothering my kids. Encouragement to not let my calendar, my internal get-moving-or-we’ll-all-be-late pushiness get my kids tangled up in knots before the day even begins. And then have it happen again when other app’ts have to be kept later in the day. I was raising kids when it was not okay for a college-educated mom to choose to stay home. And I had chosen it. So I had an internal battle raging for most of their childhood – I should be doing more with myself, I should be out in the community, I should be volunteering more at church, I should…I should…I should. And all those ugly ‘shoulds’ made for some stressful times and some very mixed motives and emotions. How I longed to find encouragement EXACTLY LIKE THIS. Encouragement to go with the flow, to create a good start to the day. And it was nowhere to be found in the 1970s. Just.Not.There. So I’m glad to read this here, Lisa-Jo, because I know there are moms today feeling the same push-pull. And YOU are doing it while you’re working full-time. Miracle mom, that’s all there is to it. (And just from one mom to another – I think the gifts you describe right here are the very essence of “big prayers and profound Bible readings.” Yes, indeed, I do!)

    • 35
      thegypsymama says:

      Oh thank you Diana for that last sentence – because I worry about that – about not making our mornings more “spiritual” or something. But I figure, much like with veggies, as long as they get the right things in the right doses it will add up to a balanced diet overall. And it’s funny you say that about the 70s – I felt the same thing when I became a parent for the first time. So this blog – I write it to me seven years ago – I write what I needed to hear then and I LOVE that it encourages other moms along the way. Thank you for your affirmation – it means a lot.

      • 36

        My husband was raised in a home with mandatory morning ‘devotional’ times and he grew to really hate it. So he never wanted that for us. Good thing, too, cause I am NOT a morning person. Instead, we had special prayers at bedtime, a whole series of WONDERFUL records called “The Purple Puzzle Tree” (There are so many other resources today, it’s mind boggling) and an active commitment to church. We also encouraged thinking out loud about faith issues. When my kids got to be primary school age – I sorta did what you’re doing – on a much smaller scale! Local only – a group for moms of younger kids with care for the kids, some teaching, lots of talking, some fun projects, some of the service-oriented. The older women of the church provided the treats and the childcare for the first year. That group went on after I left it to take a pastoral position elsewhere many years later, and some remnant of it is still there. Moms need encouragement – just comfort on the way to know that they’re not alone, that they’re not raising mass murderers, that their kids scan survive their parent’s flaws and shortcomings. Thanks for doing this so very well in this venue, L-J. Personally, I think you’re at the very top of the heap, kiddo.

  25. 37
    Kristen says:

    Thanks for this, friend. It’s as though you saw into my morning… but instead of speaking judgment (which I’d richly deserve), you spoke truth and grace and encouragement.

    I’m so glad you have this ministry, Lisa-Jo. So many are so blessed by it. And I love getting to see you as a mom. Love you!

  26. 38

    ouch! I needed this! It spoke to my heart…I want to do better, be better…thankyou for this!

  27. 39

    Crazy mornings – I remember them well. And now my kids (in their 20s) warm my heart when they remember things I used to make for breakfast that I’d long since forgotten, and they were all busy with before school sports and student government and so many things that they were REALLY out the door early – with me cartin’ em – and I’m so glad I was present and enjoyed the ordinariness of those mornings – because they’re the stuff of life. We had a good time. (and honestly? now I enjoy getting up when I want to, or reading another chapter in my current book while sipping a cup of coffee and nibblin’ on a scone. because of the crazies – i appreciate the luxury of taking my sweet time) Life and motherhood, in all its stages – are sweet!

  28. 40

    “Because the melody of any day ebbs and flows around a mother’s mood.”

    Ouch! For me, I need to keep it together right before bedtime…but the same principles you’ve laid out transfer right over.

  29. 41

    i dread mornings. can i say that? and i can’t wait for the kids’ bedtime. but the middle part? it’s like the icing in the oreo. so, so good.

  30. 42

    I am SO grateful to have stumbled across your blog earlier this week. This post is a beautiful reminder of what’s really important.

    I have a high schooler in public school for the first time, and two younger boys that I still homeschool, and I appreciate every. reminder. in this busy life of mine that my children’s hearts are worth so much more than how much I accomplish in a day.

    Thank you.

  31. 43

    Dancing! Yes dancing! Music is so good for the soul & praise music is the best! :) fabulous article- I have cut our schedule down to the bare bones- partially because I am physically not able to go go go like I used to be able to do – but somewhere in this process of learning to cope with a body no longer co-operating – God showed up and said “Be still and know that I am God” and He has changed me- changed our home & more and more it is becoming a place where we go slow – unless, of course, we are dancing!!!

  32. 44

    My wise Mama has always said children are barometers of their parents. I know when they’re fractious and clingy I need to do a heart check. I’m also learning the value of a timely heads up and buffer time, my toddler doesn’t transition quickly, it’s best when I plan ahead. I so appreciate your beautiful reminder. I long to remember and hold back the fuss and hand out the kindness.

  33. 45

    Well said and oh so difficult to put into practice for me. I’m VERY type-A and learning to work through that with as little resistance as I can. Thanks for sharing!

  34. 46
    Sarah H. says:

    Oh, this is something I struggle with! And something I am really working on with myself. I hate sending my kids off to school with any tension or anger happening in the house or car. On the days it happens I have been working on talking through it and praying for all of us while we are together. I also have learned to just say I’m sorry in the midst of my crankiness. :) I never want my children to feel that they mean less than being on time or put together. Thanks for this. I know I will be re-reading it in the days to come.

  35. 47

    oh I just LOVE this post!! (well, I pretty much love all of your posts!) Thank you again! This morning I remembered my “calm voice” (channeling via Amy McCready from Positive Parenting Solutions) and maintained a smile as I sent my kids out the door. :)

    (PS: I think we live in the same area. I would love to meet you in person sometime if you ever have blogger meet ups!)

  36. 48

    Oh, I love this so, so much!! Connecting before leaving each other sounds absolutely wonderful. This post will be in my thoughts this next week! Thanks so much for writing it.

  37. 49

    Thank you!!! Awesome, awesome post. I feel like I’m developing a “leaving the house” phobia. :) I just Ps. 121:8 on a note and taped it to the going out side of my door as a reminder during the “going out and coming in.” I love the…”say words that sound good stuck on repeat.” I will remember that.

  38. 50

    Lisa Jo, I am no longer raising children (we have 5 grands that keep us delighted) but this phrase, “The rhythm is all mine. I can choose to dance to it or not.” really resonated with me.
    The speed with which we live our lives and the fall out in the accompanying hurry is really our choice.

    So–how do we get a copy of your great visual–the wise square with repeatable words?
    So creative!

  39. 51
    Jennifer says:

    I love this post! How it speaks right to my heart. Praise God for your encouragement to build in buffer time, focus on God’s good gifts and re-gifting them to my child and dance with love and joy! Thank you for speaking truth and reminding me that my child is a gift and the crazy morning routine can be a blessing! It reminds me, that I would never want to not have the crazy morning routine.

  40. 52

    I needed to read this today, frazzled around the edges and barely keeping up with my new life with a newborn joining us five.

    Thank you.

  41. 53

    Wow, isn’t it the truth. If I take the time and sit with my little guy to pray with him when what I really want to do is yell at him and my hubby to hurry up becuase I’m going to be late, it makes such a world of difference, especially to my little guy. It doesn’t get him dressed any faster and I may be a few minutes late, but I know that the blessing for his day has been laid out and I know that the blessing for my day has begun. Thanks for the confirmation.

  42. 54

    Thank you! What a wonderful post and reminder! Just this morning I struggled with my attitude and rush to not be late while still being kind to my sweet girls… ;-) Refreshing to know I am not alone and encouraging to know I can do better.

  43. 55

    Oh, thank you for this post! I have never been a morning person, and as a mom who has recently (and very reluctantly) started working full-time outside of the home, I *hate* how stressful and rush-y our mornings can be. What a humbling reminder of how my choices can set the tone for the morning. I’ll be linking back to your blog in my own post tonight, because this is too good not to be shared!

  44. 56

    Hi, I found your post through “A Holy Experience”. I loved it. I pray the Lord continues to help you in having a more peaceful morning routine. What does Ann Voskamp say in 1000 Gifts?: Rushing is the sure sign of an amateur.

    That has been me so many times and so many years. My kids are 13 and 10 now so they know their routines and can do them independently, but there are still those times… rushing, yelling, nagging, eyes rolling and that’s just me! lol. Thanks for your words.


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  4. […] This doesn’t make breakfast any more nutritious than a bowl of cereal or a bagel and cream cheese most mornings. But it does make us all feel filled up in the ways that matter most. Some mornings we still snap and no one brushes their teeth and car doors are slammed. But other mornings – more mornings these days – there is time factored in for slow. Time factored in for connecting before parting…keep reading […]

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