Careful now! If you stand still very long in a South Carolina field, a kudzu vine just might curl its little fingers around your ankles, shimmy up your legs and arms and dress you up in a kudzu suit from head to toe! Take a good look at the photo and see what I mean. I took it yesterday- right in the middle of town on my walk to work (near the intersection of Faris and Cleveland of Greenville, if you’re local and wondering), making sure I didn’t edge my toes off the sidewalk! (I just got back from vacation and my vine-battling super suit is probably still in the dirties.)

Whenever kudzu raises up on its vine-y legs and proclaims victory over a field, it’s a sign to me that it’s almost time to go back to school. I had to laugh as I passed by it, because that’s such a perfect symbol to me for the coming chaos of the season.

If you don’t have school age kids yet, you might not get it. But if you do, then I bet you can see what I mean. The chaos starts off tiny and harmless – what’s a few trips for school supplies and clothes that fit and aren’t covered with stains? You say YES OF COURSE because you want your child to be ready! You want your child to be ready for school, ready for life! This year holds such promise for them. They’re older now and they have so many choices! And everyone is doing everything! But before you know it, homework has started, as has carpool and soccer and church and piano and cub scouts and dance and art and who knows what else and they’re all great choices! And you look around and you see the green vines tightened around your arms and legs and your whole family is dressed in kudzu suits, all wrangled and tangled and tied down. And maybe no one is laughing as much as you wish they would. Or maybe the kids are laughing, but you’re not. No fair!

Every year I tell myself the same thing. (Sometimes I listen and sometimes I roll my eyes and tell my know-it-all-self to shut up.) I tell myself, “Self, get thee and thy husband to the coffee shop and set some goals and direction, before thy year takes off and leaves thee lost and bitter and twisted.”

I’ve found that the coffee priority/goal/direction setting date is a good idea (nice job, know-it-all-self!) whether I have kids at home or not. Go to the coffee shop with your person (or take yourself on a fancy date, if you’re on your own) and buy some really nice coffee and ask yourselves some important questions about the year ahead. Questions like…

  • What do I want our home to be like in the evenings this year? How can we make that happen?
  • What about the weekends? What do we want most weekends to include? How can we make that happen?
  • What restores my child’s spirit and joy? How can I make this part of our weeks?
  • How am I going to encourage my child’s spiritual growth?
  • What life skills do I want to work on this year with my child which might help our house run more smoothly?
  • What goals do I have this year for my relationships with my spouse and with other adults, apart from the kids?
  • How do I want to grow personally this year?
  • How can I become more grateful and generous this year? How can I help my children develop these characteristics too?

Decide on your questions ahead and write down what you come up with. You could have a monthly date to reconnect and see how it’s going. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t plan things, they often don’t happen.

And then I find myself in a kudzu suit, and I’d rather wear something more comfortable.

Blessings to you! And good luck with getting those kids back to school!