- Carissa Woodwyk
It’s that time of year again when our children ride away and walk away and wave goodbye. Our hopeful and curious eyes watch them until we can’t see them anymore. And we’re left there, standing, without them.
Part of us feels relieved because we just won our 7 hours times 5 days a week back of having to meet the needs of at least one extra child. And part of us is wondering how this year will change our children in both good and hard ways. And part of us is jumping up and down, eager to have the extra time to connect with friends and the grocery store and the mall and projects, without kids. And part of us just wants to sleep for a few weeks after a busy, high energy, feeding-hungry-mouths-all-day summer. And maybe even for some, part of you is resistant to the school calendar because you deeply value pouring your whole self, your whole time, into your children and the silence and ticking clock are killing you.
Ahhh! The school year invites us all to shift and bend and lean and change in small and big ways.
And then I think about them - the other parents and caretakers who we see at the bus stop, or in their cars as we drop our kids off, or in the hallways as we pick our kids up, or the parents who we don’t see. What about them? What’s going on for them this school year while they entrust their kids to the same institution that we’re entrusting ours to? What’s happening in their home that’s shaping their children who are shaping our children?
We’re all connected. We’re all trying to raise and manage and love our kids. And we all have a million other things that pull us, that distract us, that need us, that use up our energy. And whatever those things may be, our lives still touch because our kids’ lives touch - five days, 35+ hours, every week.
It’s easy to not care. It’s easy to focus on just ourselves, our home, our tasks. It’s easy to assume that everyone is doing just fine. But, are they?
What about the mom whose husband just left her this summer for that other woman?
What about the dad who lost his job this year and can’t find work?
What about the grandparent whose adult child continues to make poor decisions and he/she is left responsible for parenting a child - again?
What about the mom who doesn’t have family around and isn’t connected to friends and is feeling lonely and/or depressed?
What about the dad who hasn’t ever found the approval he longs for and has become a workaholic to hide and numb his pain?
What about the parents who are struggling financially and finding it utterly impossible to feed their children three meals a day?
What about the parent who works second shift and is exhausted and feels guilty about not spending enough time with his/her children?
What about the family who looks like they have it all together, but addiction is shattering their heart spaces?
What about the cute couple with the cute kids who may be content and joyful and grateful?
What about ALL these people? In your school? In your community? In our lives?
We all have a lot going on. We all have needs. We’re all human.
We don’t have to be responsible for everyone’s needs, but we can be tuned in to what we sense and see.
Holding back judgment.
Shutting down gossip.
And BE love. Because each person, each parent, each personality is beloved.
So maybe it’s a morning, “Hi. How are ya?” to the parent or interacting with the kids while you wait for the bus. Or maybe it’s a wave and a smile. Or maybe it’s a compliment about a shirt or shoes or hair or glasses or child. Or maybe it’s making a meal or inviting a child into your home to play or bringing some coffee to those puffy eyes in the morning. Whatever simple or creative way we choose to show love, let’s also give them the gift of our eyes. Because maybe they’ll see a little glimpse of Jesus. Maybe we will see a little glimpse of Jesus.
And when we do whatever we do, let’s do it because we are made of love. And so are they.
Here’s to a new school year and all the bright and beautiful things it holds.
Carissa Woodwyk is a writer, speaker, counselor/marriage and family therapist, wife, mom, advocate for the human heart. In each of these roles, she offers her story and voice in ways that invite people to connect with themselves, with others, with God. She is a co-author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child's Lifestory. She and her husband have two children and live near Grand Rapids, MI. Read more from Carissa on her blog, catch up with her on facebook and twitter.