Where Do I Find Pause?


yabome gilpin-jackson -where woman find pause2

Beep beep beep beeeppppppppp.

Beep beep beep beeeppppppppp.

I crack heavy eyelids open enough to hit snooze.

What the heck—I decide to hit off. In fact. I fall back asleep.





My eyes fly open. Heart racing in panic! It’s 7am–situation salvageable but not great. Can’t believe I just did that–AGAIN! Hubby is away, so I’m solo parenting this morning. By now, I was supposed to have at least exercised, had a quiet devotional time, showered. This means a litany of choices here on out. I shift into gear.

Race downstairs. Kettle on.

Race back upstairs–wake two oldest.

Oldest, please help youngest when you’re done.

Stair racing will have to do for exercise. Hop in shower. Hop out. Oldest only still brushing teeth.

Oh please hurry! 

Second almost ready.

I start changing. It’s cold out now. Dress I wanna wear requires tights. Could see the slow mo in my mind’s eye where I either snag a hole through the tights with my big toe. Or the other version where I’m pulling them upwards over my contours and watching the downward run dancing from the point where my fingers just dug a rip. Forget it. I pull on pants, first blouse I think will work and a jacket, while mentally deciding what shoes will match.

Check the kids. Baby boy whiny and having none of No 1 helping him. Number 2 is toasting waffles. Send No 1 downstairs. Help Baby Boy.

Downstairs. Check lunch kits, Check agendas. Shoot! Missed a permission form last night that’s due today. Eat between flying around passing milk, wiping spills, filling missed form.

One. Full. Hour. Later.

We pile into car. I’m double checking that all are aboard and all bags loaded. Suddenly I realize I’ve been asking questions … and it’s like I don’t exist  …Same bickering I’ve heard plenty-a-time.


No, you move.

 No, I got in first.

No, you help him get strapped!!

 No 3 starts crying. Raise my tempo in that firm, taut voice, that holds the illusion—I’m still in control, here! Asking for calm …asking for final checks …

I still don’t exist.

C’MON!!! C’MON!!! Do we HAVE to do this EVERY morning!

 Instant silence reigns. I launch in to berate them for their misconduct. I dish it out. Hopping in and driving off while serving my frustration … did I lock the garage? Back up. Yes, it’s locked. Slow. Down.

 They’re still silent, so I stop scolding. Check back mirror. No 2 is scowling at No.1. I sigh. I switch to pleading. By now we’ve done the seven-minute route to the school. We are on time. I pray for forgiveness and for a good day all around. I say, I’m sorry I yelled and give hugs. They give me grace and hugs back.

By now I’m crestfallen, adrenalin dropping.

 I suck! I just taught my kids how to lash out when they’re frustrated.

But what was I supposed to do? Keep calm … for the millionth time … and wait for them to settle?

Drive off and let them fend for themselves? Will have to wait till teenage to try that strategy–wait, I may not want to do that then either!

Shoulda just got up when the alarm went and given myself more time. Yeah, but that doesn’t always work either …

Shoot! I have EXACT minutes to make it to office on time! No more wallowing in self-pity, self-doubt and self-bashing for the lasting damage I may have inflicted on my children. Race away again. Red light. Put foundation on. Next red–lipstick. Suddenly realize … silence in the car … pure bliss.

Releases breath.

Lord, help me today. Show me how to be a better parent …

Turn on Afrobeat.

Rock the last few minutes to my office.

Leaving the parking lot, man drives right up to entrance, opens door for woman, pecks her lips, hand on the small of her back. It’s the kind of quick deliberate touch you take for granted, but will miss if it didn’t happen. I watch him watch her walk away before driving off. I realize I’m smiling.

Happy to be sitting in one piece in my meeting. Someone’s talking and I realize I hadn’t even looked in a mirror and have no idea whether my powder or lipstick are on right. I choose to sit up from my slouch. I choose to let my inner light shine to swat away the anxiety that just bubbled up about how I look. I choose to believe the person who said: “You look great!” when I walked into the meeting.

Day’s a whirlwind. Lots done. Lots still to do. Phone still beeping as I leave. I put it on silent as I race down the office stairs. One kid has soccer practice and I’m running late as usual! Hubby should have made it home and picked up kids, but I need to get there so he doesn’t have to take all three out.

Slow. Down.


Nothing to do. No need to fret. I pray. I forget soccer and my work worries. Make it with just enough minutes for soccer run to work out. Walk in … home smells divine. Hubby cooked. Give him a welcome home hug. Someone shouts: Gross!

Youngest one’s wiggled between our legs. We sigh-smile and let go.

Ok–soccer run?

Soccer’s cancelled!

O, the flood of relief! O, the joy.

Let shoulders slump.

Release air.

Dinner. Three voices asking questions and sharing school stories, all at same time. Hubby and I trying to share our day too. The pile of dishes depresses me. But he just cooked, so I’ll wash up without fussing. But first: check bags, check homework, remember tomorrow’s schedule.

Who has gym tomorrow?

Who has library?

I need to take a shoebox to school.

Oh no! I threw them all out last week [in a nesting moment].

I have one under my bed! He can have it…but I need a purple shirt for drama tomorrow but I don’t have one.

Oh man! Hon – can you go …

            Milk’s finished!

 I could cry. But I laugh instead.

Hubby does store run. I get them to bed. Clean up. He’s back and I’m still racing around.

I know there’s still lots to do, he says, but will you come sit for a moment?

 Stop in my tracks. Look around. Choose to accept the invitation today–reluctantly at first. Then I sink into his side on the couch. Eventually get back up, complete chores of the night. Some social. Some email and writing. Bills. I start some lists. Christmas card mailing list, Christmas shopping list. We go to bed …

Thank you, Lord …

I promise myself I won’t snooze or stop the alarm when it goes off in 6 hours.


Where do I find pause in all this?

It’s in the extra hour of sleep that my body needed.

It’s in the safe drive to school, work and back home when my body automatically knows to slow me down.

It’s in forgiving myself.

It’s in my children’s grace to their imperfect parent.

It’s in the God moments alone in my car.

It’s in the joy I find in music

It’s in the love moments I witness.

It’s being bombarded by the embrace of our children at the end of the day.

It’s in the call to intimacy on the couch.

It’s in the privilege of being able to work, pay bills and write shopping lists.

It’s in walking upstairs, holding my husband’s hand and hearing our children snore.

It’s in the breath with which I whisper: Thank you, Lord, right before I drift into the embrace of sleep and rest, knowing that my God will restore me and wake me, so I can do it all, all over again.

It’s in remembering: Why Christmas?