Seasons Change

Yesterday I was listening to Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Life author) on the radio who just happened to be discussing the several seasons of life. If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I’ve continued to struggle with the knowledge that I’m in my mid-40’s and don’t have what I’d call a “solid career”.  What if something happens to my husband? How are we going to pay for college? Who can afford the cost of a new mattress these days? So, I regularly peek at job opportunities, but whenever I’m presented with what I think might be the perfect career choice, being full time Mom always trumps the 45-hour work week. I don’t mind the hours; I just need to be home by 4pm! Needless to say, my request to start work at 7am isn’t appealing to most employers.  Ecclesiastes says, “there is a season to work”, and I am fortunate to be able to work around my kids schedules with the exact part time job I already have.

After another long interview process, and another full time job offer that I gratefully declined, I’ve come to the realization that with the remaining season that my teenagers are home before college (the oldest two-twins-are Juniors in high school), I’m unwilling to work during their after school sports times.  While that sounds great, living out the reality of less in the bank is always an inward battle for me. So, I’m practicing gratitude for what I have, and reminding myself that this season of daily parenting is fleeting. Several Moms of college kids tell me that often.

November is a special month for the obvious reason that we think about gratitude perhaps a little more than normal. It’s also very brisk outside, dark at dinner time (beginning Sunday), and the beautiful leaves are grounded, leaving barren branches.  We’re looking for comfort foods, and like it or not, the stores are filled with Christmas decorations, nudging us into lists and preparations. This is definitely a new season by the weather and the anticipation of the holidays.

PS: You’ll notice that “Tummy Tuesdays” have been replaced by simply “Recipes”. I’ll post a recipe occasionally, but no longer every Tuesday.

Thanks for reading my rambling after a couple-week absence, and I sincerely wish you a truly blessed month of gratitude!

Paying for Other’s Bad Behavior Is Making Me a Little Cranky

Lucy courtesy Charles Schulz via Cafe Press

Lucy courtesy Charles Schulz via Cafe Press

Now in my mid 40’s, I’ve officially experienced enough of life where paying (in time or money) for other people’s bad behavior, no-show tendencies, and last-minute procrastination is making me cranky. Over my adult life, when I or my kids have received unfair treatment, I’ve definitely handled it firmly, but always with respect toward others, even when they might not have deserved it. I’ve followed policies that were ridiculous because I “understood”. Why have I attempted to do the right things? I have hoped to be a good example to my kids. I’ve thought that it would please God. Because I’ve observed that the senior citizens who are still nice after 80 years of living on this planet have made the effort to remain kind. Now that my kids are teenagers, I’m a little worn out from always doing the right things.

– For example, my son had his wisdom teeth out recently. I had written proof (and so did the office) that my insurance would cover the cost. The “policy” was that I had to pay $700 cash up front and wait 2 months for the office to write me a refund check. I was a little cranky. When I questioned the policy, the response was, “Well, so many parents weren’t paying their balance not covered by insurance.” But I’m not that parent!

– For years, the same 15% of the congregation at church did 100% of the work. Instead of being grateful, the 85% often complained about something. This makes volunteers a little cranky. The followers of the “serve your church” rule get piled with more until they learn that sometimes, you have to say “no”, and they hate to say no.

– One of my children takes instrument lessons and the teacher sent out a lengthy handbook about new policies. The book’s theme hinted: ‘I’ve been burned and now-no more.’ Extremely specific guidelines were printed and parents were asked to sign. Why? Because some Moms call to say they’re not taking their kids out of the pool for lessons. I’m not that parent. I’m a rule follower. I’ll bring my tired child to lessons even if they need a day off to rest because I respect the teacher’s time, not because I’m a Tiger Mom. Other parents are paying late? Yes, I’ll be happy to pay in advance, even though I just paid the oral surgeon $700. But, when I’m asked to pay for days when I know 6 months in advance that I won’t be there – and, when I have to pay a mandatory fee for events my child isn’t participating in, I’m a little cranky. Guess what? The non-payers will still pay late or not at all. The same parents will still blow off their lesson times without a courtesy phone call.

– Three days ago, I applied for a new job online. I embarked on completing a tortuously-long application form, which took me over an hour and a half to finish. Every other paragraph inserted a “WARNING” that “IMMEDIATELY” after completing the application, a personality test was required, or the information would NOT be looked at. I submitted the application, resume, cover letter, and rights to a 4th child if I ever have one. Then, I began the insanely time consuming personality test. I followed the directions – “immediately” beginning the personality test, when really, I should have ignored the “warnings” like most everyone else apparently does.

The test was getting so complicated (I was doing algebra), I took a quick break and scanned my email. I emailed the application at 1:03pm and began the long assessment. At 1:05pm, I received an email from said company that after careful consideration, they would not be pursuing my candidacy. Two minutes after I submitted part one of a “mandatory” two-part process, I received the automated Dear John letter. I was already an hour into the personality assessment.

Not sure if I should laugh or cry at how I had just spent an afternoon of my life, I emailed the Corporate Recruiter a friendly suggestion about how his Human Resources division could operate a little more respectfully of qualified candidates who actually read and follow the directions. After a little investigating with them and another large institution, guess why testing is required? So many people lie on their application forms, they need a “better” assessment than a resume. Guess why automated “not selected” responses are sent 2 minutes after submissions? The companies aren’t always recruiting for an existing position, they are bulking up their files to demonstrate a “commitment to diversity” for possible future examination.

– I’m sure you have countless examples of your own frustrations. I won’t torture you or myself with the broader issues of national health care and the number of people living in America who impressively avoid paying their taxes for 20 years.

Those who brag about “beating the system”, and who circumvent every other routine responsibility that is a normal part of being a grown up: have mercy on us do-gooders that you mock. Please obey the rules. Be honest. It’s getting really hard for us to stay sweet toward you. 🙂

“We can’t allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way.” Galations6:9GWT