Wiggle Giggle Signal
It’s 5:55pm, I’m pulling into the school parking lot almost on 2 wheels. Parking Ollie, our trusty green SUV, I rush in before the clock strikes 6:00pm and I’m in daycare overtime = $$$. A quick sign out, hug the kiddo, and then we’re trampling out the front doors. Back in the car I hear from the backseat, “Mom, do you feel like cooking?” This is code for “Mom, are we going out to eat or is it cereal for dinner again?”
Hello, I’m Noel… and here’s a glimpse into my life: I’m a single mom that attempts to juggle a full-time job, an awesome and full of energy 6 year-old boy, a household of busyness with a side of chaos, plus maybe some resemblance of a social life outside of Facebook and Instagram. I enter Friday evenings truly having goals of a productive weekend: meal planning then grocery shopping accordingly, laundry actually finished AND put away, cleaning the house, a bit of breakfast and lunch meal prep for the new week, and snuggling with my son before bedtime. Sunday evenings find me a smidge frustrated by not having accomplished more on the weekend, however I am somehow hopeful for a smooth and peaceful week. One with mornings that go smoothly without me sounding like Batman shouting “we have to leave NOW”, no misbehavior notes from the teacher, a night where I sleep more than 6 hours and then don’t hit snooze more than once, and evenings with a home cooked dinner served at a set table where we chat about our respective productive and stress-less days. Oh, that would be glorious. Angels would sing. I might shed a tear. But reality is, I don’t always meet my goals, but I’m trying to make some progress.
I’m learning it is okay to do the best I can and let the rest go. And I do completely understand that what I let go of doesn’t get magically done by anyone else, it simply waits for me like the 3-day old laundry in the washer currently. (note to self: rewash with vinegar tonight!) I’d like to say it’s just a busy season but truth is, it’s life. It just keeps going on and on like the Energizer Bunny…The Gray Stressor Hare: cute, frazzled but a tad insane. Above it all, I have had to remind myself over and over to WIGGLE, GIGGLE and SIGNAL. (Pardon me, I have a kindergartener so rhymes rock)!
WIGGLE… Moms and dads, please cut yourself some slack. The weight we carry on our shoulders can be overwhelming at times. And single parents, huge kudos to you! You don’t get to take a timeout from the strain and drain – it’s you or it’s you. There is no tag team partner – you don’t get to tap-out and cry “uncle”. No one does the dishes while the other swaps out the laundry. Stick with me - take a moment to just breathe and think about this: where can you find some wiggle room? Is it that an evening of meal planning and prep would help the next few days go better? I have a friend who runs her household of 8 amazingly well. Once every few months, she organizes a freezer meal swap with friends. Someone makes pans of enchiladas, another one her delicious lasagna, another soup and they get together and swap (over a meal shared together). Now there are different meals waiting in each family’s freezer. Genius. A while ago there was a week I needed to not worry about school lunches. So, there was a trip to the grocery store where Conner picked out 5 lunchables, 5 yogurts, 5 pieces of fruit. We added sliced bell pepper and carrots and lunch was done for the week! He was kept alive and I felt like I won – not mom of the year, but a little sanity for the moment. I recently became smitten with Fry’s Clicklist. I can grocery shop the night before in my pajamas then stop by on the way home from work where they have pulled my order (with all of my special requests like how to slice the deli turkey and to pick a 4 bump bell pepper not one with 3). I pull into the designated parking space, call a number and someone comes out and loads my order in the trunk. It would only be sweeter if they would put it away in my kitchen! I have learned to find myself, little by little, some wiggle.
The WIGGLE is the grace you extend yourself, allowing space where you can breathe and ease a bit of the ongoing stress. Where can you find yours?
GIGGLE… How’s the conversation around your table? Is there laughter? When was the last time you had dessert before dinner? On the 31st of each month, Baskin Robbins has scoops for $1.31. We have met up with friends, eaten our sweet scoops, laughed together while sharing the latest life scoop then headed to our respective homes for dinner. What if you made sandwiches and head to the park after everyone’s home from work and school? There’s been a Tuesday where we’ve grabbed our swimsuits and a carryout pizza and headed to the pool for dinner and a game of Marco Polo.
Often our weekly schedule doesn’t hold much giggle at the table but I try to find connection time in the unexpected. I keep a blanket in our SUV. It came in handy one day when I rushed from work, stopped for takeout, got the kid and then sat on the blanket for an impromptu picnic on his school’s sidewalk (seriously) while we waited for an evening school event to start. He thought it was the best ("no one else is having a picnic at school Mom") and the teriyaki chicken wasn't bad either!
The GIGGLE is the atmosphere you create. Find some talking points. It doesn't have to be a roaring comedy at the table but a time to listen and share. How can you create some connection and laughter at your table?
SIGNAL… Life is not meant to be done alone. I learned long ago that when I’m overwhelmed, the enemy does everything he can to seclude me. Isolated, I feel lonely not just alone, I feel weak and broken. The ugly head of depression and the one of defeat pop up in a nasty game of “whack a mole” that's turned into “whack a Noel”. However, I have learned to fight back. I have been intentional in adding people to my life that help me change up the game. I’m no longer the one getting bopped on the head, but instead I can take a swing and knock out the lies. Better yet, I know that someone will take a thump at the one trying to sneak up behind me.
I have an amazing group of ladies in my life that are a source of refreshing to my soul. I can shoot them a prayer need via text and I know that each one of them will reach out to heaven on my behalf. Sometimes it’s a quick “will do” or “praying”, other times it’s a word of encouragement or scripture that helps me soldier on. It’s like our own "Bat Signal" to pray for one another. My tribe has my back and I have theirs. I fiercely contend on their behalf to the Father and rejoice with too many emojis at the shared praise reports. They are women I do life with and though we are in different seasons, from having little ones to being empty nesters, we connect. Together, we share laughter, meals, tears, and wisdom.
The SIGNAL is the tribe that you can call on - those you can have a prayer signal with. Please don't attempt to do this life alone. Remember even Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) had Wilson on that island in Castaway. He couldn't handle being alone but somehow he clearly had a ball. Find your tribe, thrive, and do life together.
Those 3 things: WIGGLE, GIGGLE, and SIGNAL. I know that my life and my family are richer because I am intentional at making those a part of our home and our table. I hope you will be encouraged to find your own WIGGLE, GIGGLE, and SIGNAL.
Check out one of Noel and Conner's favorite recipes here.