Beware October

Is October a crazy month for everyone or just me?

School, extra-curricular activities, and fundraising kick into high gear.  Halloween, Trunk or Treats, and Fall Festival activities need planning, baking, supervising, and attending.  Weather changes and daylight savings time making children crazy for weeks. Football (particularly Aggie football) raises blood pressure and renders thousands of people screaming and totally senseless for spans of hours to entire weekends.

I recently saw some rather cute Halloween sign that said, “Beware”. That really sums up how I’m feeling this October- very aware and somewhat on guard. Being aware is healthy, but becoming overly cautious leads to paranoia and all-out losing it. Being aware means to be informed and attentive. Beware means to be cautious and alert to the dangers of something. Both are important, but it seems to me that October begins a crazy-cycle that doesn’t let up until New Year.

October is Awareness Month. No, I didn’t make a mistake. There are several worthy causes that claim a day or the entire month of October as a time to spread awareness and raise support. For example, October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Several amazing activities to include Buddy Walk take place in October or early November; my favorite pictures have a fellow Aggie family walking with their son, who wears trademark blue glasses. His entire walking group wore bright blue plastic frames; it was an awesome sight. October is also the month for parents who have lost children before and after birth; A Walk to Remember and Candlelight vigils on the 15 are powerful times of remembrance for often overlooked families who are sometimes told their losses ‘don’t count’.

It is also the month to be aware of Breast Cancer, Lupus, Domestic Violence, Bullying Prevention, Pit Bull cruelty, Clergy Appreciation, Rhett Syndrome, National Cyber Security, Filipino American Month, National Arts and Humanities, Apple Day, Navy Day, Dwarfism, LBGT, Auto Battery Safety, Fire Safety, World Teacher’s Day, Columbus Day…and perhaps most notably- National Squirrel Day. Please be aware of the squirrels as they run out in the middle of the road as in the Geico commercials.

Whether you swerve or speed up is your call. There is a presidential election next month as well; hence it is also  Limbo-Pinata (‘How low can you go/ Beat the dead horse and rip the enemy apart until you get what you want’) Awareness Month.

With so many causes that need attention, important safety reminders, and other important people and things that we take for granted, it can be easy to just roll our eyes. However, once you are personally affected by cancer, losing pregnancies, DS, domestic violence losing everything in a fire, or wrecking your car over a squirrel at age 16, it can be really frustrating when there is a lack of concern or knowledge in the greater public.

Life is busy. A LOT happens every day, week, month, and year. I am currently having trouble remembering to change over the washed laundry to the dryer, where my son hid his left shoe, to thaw dinner, and the Alamo simultaneously. (Honestly, Hubby and I searched the house for 10 minutes yesterday for the magnetic backsides of the refrigerator farm animals because only the front end magnets remain. My calling from the downstairs, “Find anything yet?” to hear “Nope! Still looking for tail!” is just a regular marriage moment in this home.)

As I typed that last sentence, Firstborn jumped onto the couch, aimed a somersault toward me, and let one rip. Dirty diaper awareness is alive and well in this house. No wonder the female mind was designed to multitask.  Is that cry a ‘tired cry’, ‘wet cry’ or ‘hungry cry’? Are my military friends having homecomings or deployments this month? Do any new moms need meals?  Is that lurking blue car suspicious or part of the neighborhood watch? Did I remember to reload wipes into the diaper bag? Is it someone’s birthday this month? Where is that smell coming from? Is the car gas gauge on Empty? What’s happening internationally? Trying to keep it all straight in my head sounds a bit like a rapid-fire verse from “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. There is just too much to be aware of everything that deserves my attention.

It can be very tempting to close ourselves off entirely, although that is not healthy or helpful.This week I’ve realized how often the Old and New Testaments have messages to be aware. There are hundreds of variations of “watch”, “be on your guard”, “do not be deceived”, “I would not have you be ignorant”, “be wise”, and “expect trouble”. Life is full of danger and trouble- walking through “as innocent as lambs” without the shrewdness of wolves is a recipe to be devoured. However, one of the most frequent promises is that we will not be alone. We are also commanded not to fear and to trust that as we cautiously venture out, we will have someone with us.

Most of parenting, teaching, mentoring, coaching, and directing involves helping people avoid problems and danger. Notice how mothers cross the street or parking lots with their small children. “Look both ways. Listen for cars. No cars? Okay, let’s cross.” In addition to these warnings, most parents will not only stay nearby so that they can protect their children, but most say, “Hold my hand”. While teaching and protecting, they stay close. Dangers and all that overwhelm are much easier to face with others at our side.

In a world where our attention is demanded by dozens of things simultaneously, we can miss the basic things we should be aware of. It’s no wonder that we have the desire to focus on one thing at a time (TV? A book? A magazine? An uninterrupted shower?) to escape the bombardments of all we should be aware of at once. No wonder there are road signs that tell us to be aware of road signs.

It is certainly important to limit the time and attention we spend on various commitments so that we don’t lose our minds and end up burning out and doing everything poorly.  Even basic requirements for parenting can make me feel like a Super Stretch Armstrong (Google it, people born after Clinton was president). I can attest that the idea of “stretching yourself too thin” is NOT a workable fitness plan. Much of life and maturity involves discovering and maintaining a healthy balance. I’m still figuring it out. Of course, at 32 weeks pregnant the only thing I can successfully balance is an ice-cream bowl on my tummy.

Dear friends, be aware, but be cautious so you don’t lose your ever-loving mind. There is enough crazy laughter, battiness, and horror in the seasonal decorations. BEWARE…especially of those dad-gum squirrels.

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