School’s out? Time to breathe

“Breathe, just breathe

Come and rest at my feet

And be, just be

Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to just breathe.”

—“Breathe” by Jonny Diaz

My favorite day of the school year is almost here. The day when the countdown reaches zero. The day when my kids wake up without resistance and dress accordingly. The day when our family takes a collective deep breath, knowing we persevered and will now be rewarded with a change of pace and change of daily commitment.

It’s the day more commonly known as the last day of school!

I’m well-aware that not everyone agrees with me, nor would everyone mark that last sentence with an exclamation point. But I needed something to help you visualize my happy dance, so enter one of the original emojis.

It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with teachers or administrators. In fact, we’ve had a great group of educators helping us navigate an anxiety-driven year. They worked with our family, supported our unconventional decisions, and ultimately watched some thriving start to happen.

Aside from the occasional poor peer influence, I’m satisfied with the direction my girls are headed academically and socially.

So, my happy dance really revolves around two things. First, I love being a mom. Second, I can’t wait to underwhelm our schedule for the next couple months.

Being a mom is the only career aspiration I’ve ever had. I adore training, teaching and supporting my kids. And, over the past two years of my journey out of the chains of childhood trauma, depression and fatigue, I’ve come to thrive in my role. It’s my passion, and I come alive when given the opportunity to minister to my children.

Before I started healing, my mothering tended to be peppered with more moments of annoyance than I care to admit. I was intrigued by the idea of heart-centered discipline, but in my first few years of parenting, that intrigue was often replaced by trying to smooth things over and moving on, or simply minimizing the big emotions that come with parenting young children.

But now, after strengthening my spiritual core and opening my eyes to the benefits of whole-brain health, I’m much more likely to see disagreements, dissatisfaction and tantrums in my kids as places to train up well-adjusted people.

And as a mom, I’m happy to fall into the battle ranks and fight for the health and well-being of my kids. Summer gives me that chance, as I have an abundance of opportunity monitor and encourage growth individually and collectively in my kids. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty!

As far as schedules go, about a year ago, I wrote about my need to let go of some of my duties in order to heal my body from the effects of adrenal fatigue.

Once I decided to heal from that, I made rest a top priority. At the beginning of the school year, I napped almost every day. I’ve also taken seriously my efforts to minimize my outside-the-home responsibilities. And I’m starting to notice a difference.

For instance, unlike the past couple of years, this track season it doesn’t take two full days of rest to recover from one meet. While I’m notably tired during a meet, I rarely need a nap the day after. I’m even slowly introducing weight-training back into my routine. Before slowing down, any sort of exercise…even walking…would put me on the couch.

But what does that have to do with my summer happy dance?

Well, it’s simple. This summer we will live an intentional, underwhelmed schedule.

We will have structure, but it will be in the form of living inside healthy paren­tal boundaries. Otherwise, our schedule will be open. We will limit outside activities. We will go to the pool when we feel like it. We will have time to play, breathe and be.

We were designed for that. To play. To breathe. To BE.

And this summer, I can’t wait to move beyond school-year survival mode back into the peace and security of our family. It won’t be without big emotions. It won’t be without struggles. It won’t be without challenges.

But living an underwhelmed schedule will give this mom a chance to do more of what I love. I will continue to parent beyond ignoring the big emotions, distracting from the struggles and neglecting the challenges. I will embrace my special work of being a mom.

For the summer, I will let the relentless chaos that calls go unanswered. And breathe.

Malinda Just has been writing her column for the Free Press since 2008. She can be reached at