Mothers typically look forward to autumn and some mothers look forward to autumn as early as June. Those little blessings, so cute and talkative, make it difficult to get a day’s work done. They’re in, they’re out, they’re up, they’re down. They’re always hungry. And the older they get, the louder they become. Their shoes are everywhere, their toys underfoot. They want this, they want that. They want iPhones, iPods, iPads, ice cream. They want to go here and there, and with all their friends. And the little ones want to cling, especially during the hottest, most humid part of the day.
When I was a kid, there were six of us. John, Jeannie, Cindy, Barney, Diane, and Tommy. We were all born within the short span of seven years. My mom had been pregnant for the greater part of seven years and after the youngest was born, she had six little children, all under the age of nine. We were like a locust swarm in those days, eating everything in our path and perpetuating destruction in our wake. We were not quiet, mild-mannered children. We were loud to the point of deafening, unruly, rambunctious, and given to name-calling, arguing, and scuffles whether working or playing, all on a daily basis. It’s amazing my mom stayed sane throughout those years.
Visions of bright yellow school buses danced in her head all summer long. The sight of a school or bus garage could move my mom to tears. Labor Day, I’m sure, was my mom’s favorite holiday, and she looked forward to fall even before school was out for the summer. I remember her saying again and again, “All I want is some peace and quiet, just some peace and quiet.” She was perpetually exhausted.
In those days, when September rolled around and the first cool breeze of the season caressed her face, a little bell went off in my mom’s head and she began to feverishly make secret plans with the neighborhood moms. Labor Day passed and the school bus began its creaking ascent up Rickard Hill Road. The six of us, with our notebooks and little brown bag lunches, trudged up the hill to join the rest of the kids at the bus stop. Just as we waved a tearful goodbye to summer and climbed aboard, things went into action in our house at the bottom of the hill. My mom was already on the phone to the other moms on our rural road. Flinging off floured aprons, the three of them threw on a farmwife’s version of party dresses and gathered together in one of their kitchens for the much-anticipated, long-awaited Hallelujah! Party.
Hallelujah! The Kids Are Back In School!
This trio of harried housewives got together every year on the first day of school to sip coffee and eat cake in happy celebration of freedom. Freedom to finish a chore, a meal, even a sentence – without interruption! At first they just breathed. Then with a sweet sigh of relief, a frilly little lightheartedness danced into the room. Playful chatter filled the air. There is nothing like hot coffee and the sweet, crumbly texture of a brown sugar topping on a moist piece of homemade coffee cake to banish any shadows. For a moment, the peace and quiet of a comely silence descended and they would smile at one another. Hallelujah! The summer was so worth it.
This year the tradition of the Hallelujah! Party shall be carried on. Soon and very soon, when all the children are back in school, when the dust begins to settle and our minds unfrazzle, we gals are getting together in the spirit and grace of my mom and her friends. It’s the fall kickoff for our women’s Bible study and we are having a Hallelujah! Party. Food, fun, and fellowship. Peace & quiet, not only because the kids are back in school, but because as God’s children we can have the peace of Christ, a far better peace that quiets our minds AND hearts.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
We will praise together, pray together, and eat cake together. We shall certainly celebrate peace and quiet, although I must say that with me around it is not likely to be very quiet. After all, I’m still one of those six obstreperous children, albeit all grown up. A leopard doesn’t change its spots; they just fade a little with age.