Too Much Planning Too Little Joy
Humble Pie: The Crust
Confessions of a homeschool mom burdened with the gift of administration. Can a gift be a burden? Yes, sometimes I believe it can be.
Our last MARCH meeting made me realize that just because we are given a gift, it doesn’t mean it is to be used in EVERY situation. The group leaders for the year are Lisa and MaryAnn and in order to prevent burnout, they have devised “Mom Teams”. Each month 2 moms will volunteer to ‘run’ the group. Running the group can mean anything from picking up the key, unlocking the door and setting up for a carefree social. It could mean bringing the food and drinks or making sure that food and drinks are provided. It may entail planning a book discussion or topical discussion for the moms to chat about. It could also involve faith lessons for the children. The meetings would then be as varied as the moms leading them.
Celeste and I had signed up for January. We took the opportunity to plan for the meeting by having our families get together for the day a couple of weeks before hand. The children had a great time and kept themselves busy all day. Celeste and I had lots of fun, brainstorming and planning. However, by the end of the day, we had planned an entire Journey of Mercy! We had designed everything right down to the food to bring and a layout for the table so that once the food was placed on red and blue tablecloths of course, you would clearly see the rays on the Divine Mercy Image, as rays of red and blue food flowed down each side of the table.
We thought it would be nice to start by defining Mercy, what it is and how we are being called to live it out more deeply this year and how we can obtain mercy and give it. Although most of our families already pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, we thought it would be a nice lesson to start with so that people could start praying it all year long. We also planned a small lesson on the Holy Door, it’s history, it’s unveiling, what’s inside the box, what does it mean to pass through the holy door and where are the Holy Doors in our Diocese for this year. We also found craft ideas to compliment each topic. We planned that next month too, since Celeste is also signed up for February and Lent begins February 10. We decided that February’s Mercy theme would be the Sacrament of Confession. We even made our own MARCH Confession Guide for Children. Yes, that’s right, do you see where I am going with this? We were on fire! Ideas were bursting out of us! We hoped that other topics could be covered by future Mom Teams, like the parables of Mercy, the saints of Mercy, the Works of Mercy, you get the picture.
We also had two capstone ideas. 1) an Enthronement to the Sacred Heart in the Family and 2) an ACTUAL pilgrimage to Eden Hill, the home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts! The end of the day came and we parted exhilarated and fulfilled. We were so pleased with ourselves, we had devised an amazing plan and were looking forward to sharing it with everyone.
Over the next week, Celeste and I emailed to finalize details, we copied coloring pages, and gathered all the materials we needed for our craft projects.
We broke down the 42 children that we knew were coming into 3 groups to make things easier and decided that they would travel in their groups from her class to my class to a game room. We would meet at 3pm to pray the chaplet, have snacks, and settle the children with a video on St. Faustina while the moms gathered their things and helped to clean up. Celeste emailed the moms about our plans.
The day before our meeting I checked for email responses, a couple of moms signed up to bring cups, water, plates and napkins, no one had signed up for our red and blue foods, strawberries, blueberries and punch. Celeste and I were bringing Divine Mercy decorated cakes and gluten free cupcakes frosted with red and blue frosting. Oh no, our theme table may be empty. Lisa called and offered to bring the strawberries, but we would still have to pick up the blueberries and juice, oh no what would we do!
~Can you just sense the dramatic sarcasm?~
To make matters worse we got a call from Lisa, yes, Lisa the Leader (and trusted friend). She conveyed to us that other moms may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all our ideas and that we should be aware of that and take it into consideration. I listened, I was hurt, and I was confused, what was so overwhelming? All the excitement and energy drained from my body, I no longer wanted to do anything. A couple of hours later, it was time for the meeting. Celeste and I met briefly to ‘tone down’ our presentation, she was taking this so much better than I. Before we knew it, families started to arrive.
Humble Pie: The Fruit
As everyone began to arrive there was joy. Although it was freezing out, moms had a hard time making it into the building because as the cars unloaded, children were squealing when they saw the friends they hadn’t seen in a while and the moms were hugging for the same reasons. We were commenting on moms who had lost weight or gotten a hair cut. Everyone ran to see the newest babies in the group. It felt as they we hadn’t seen each other in years. Once everyone was inside there was a constant hum of activity and everyone mingled and reconnected. Food was dropped off, babies were settled and the day began. It was a truly beautiful scene.
Did it began with my nice typed out lesson on the meaning of Mercy and the call to walk this journey together this year month by month at our meetings, NO it didn’t! As I looked around and peaked into the rooms where the children were already gathered playing with Legos and chit-chatting about all the things they wanted to share with one another, I barely had the heart to gather them together in the big room. I even noticed a new family had joined us. Who were they? What would they think?
With Celeste by my side we agreed to toss aside all the formality and just offer our craft projects for those interested. No theme speech, no holy year here we come, no matching table cloths, no blueberries, nothing. Just let go and let God.
As usual, I had overprepared for the meeting. The meeting didn’t need me or my ideas, it had everything it needed, love, joy, peace, faith and holy friendships. There was plenty of food and the kids were happy being with their friends and the moms gathered to share, laugh, love and learn from one another. I learned a valuable lesson, God will provide. My joy had been taken away by all the planning and because Celeste and I had saddled ourselves with a lesson, we were unable to partake in free time with the other moms. As homeschooling moms, we are with our children all day everyday, teaching everything from A to Z. MARCH time should be preciously guarded as ‘Free Time’ to be at peace and enjoy the beautiful people God has placed in this group.
So, did I waste all my time planning for the Year of Mercy? No, I didn’t. I will be using most of these ideas with my own family and hey, maybe this spring some of us can take a road trip to Stockbridge. Love you and may this year be one of true Mercy for all of you.
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