Summer: A Time to Abandon, a Time to Keep

I’m so thrilled to host the fabulous and talented Michelle DeRusha on the Working Mom’s Devotional today.   Besides being one of my favorite writers, Michelle leads her own blogging community at Graceful and is a wife and mother to two busy boys (including Rowan pictured above who is beating the summer heat with the hose while Michelle tries to write inside!).  Her words hit close to this summer.  Please see if her voice resonates with you and be sure to visit her at Graceful!


I had big plans. Big, big plans. When I resigned from my part-time job as a communications specialist for Nebraska Public Broadcasting on May 3 to launch a new career as a free-lance writer, I couldn’t wait to get started. I leaped into the challenge head-first, making to-do lists and ticking off goals one by one. I stuck to a rigorous writing schedule and wasn’t even tempted (much) by Facebook and Twitter.

This impressive productivity lasted all of three weeks.

Exactly 21 days after I dove into my new career, my two elementary school-age boys celebrated their last day of school and jumped headlong into summer.

Suddenly, when I set my coffee cup on the desk and pulled my chair in toward my laptop each morning, instead of hearing the beginning of a story stir, I heard this: “Mommy….what can I dooooooo?” (a question repeated no fewer than 427 times a day).

Suddenly, instead of a block of several hours in which I mulled over the perfect metaphors, edited an entire chapter and wrote 1,000 words, I snapped up 40 minutes to slap together a 400-word blog post while the kids played Super Mario Bros. on the Wii.

I was not pitching new projects.  I was not querying magazine editors with story ideas. I was not churning out 1,000 words a day on my manuscript. In fact, I was hardly able to accomplish the bare minimum.

Suffice to say, for the first month or so of summer, this situation made me crabby. I was a crabby mother. A crabby wife. And a crabby writer, anxious about my lack of productivity and lack of income.

After four weeks of epic crabbiness, though, something happened: I gave in. I cut myself some slack. I penned a new set of bare-minimum goals for the rest of the summer. I accepted the simple fact that for 10 weeks out of the year, I work from home in the company of two young children. And I embraced the reality that these weeks will not be among my most productive…at least when it comes to my job.

In short, I realized that there is a time and a season for everything:

“A time to plant and a time to harvest…A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones…A time to keep and a time to throw away.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2, 5, 6)

I may not harvest many words this summer. It may feel a bit like I am scattering fruitless stones. But I know when I close my laptop and head to the backyard with the boys, this work time I abandon is also a time to keep. And I don’t get to keep this time with them for long.




I'm an author who writes about the working mom's struggle to live out an authentic Christian faith in a complex and fast-paced world. I live in constant need of grace, caffeine, and technology -- usually in that order.
  • Kendal Privette

    i thought i would write so much this summer while home from school….but my husband works from home and there are these kids and a garden and chickens and and and. somehow a school schedule affords more quiet time? i can’t even analyze that. glad you are enjoying your boys. when do they start back? we’ve been out since the third week of may, so our kids only have two more weeks off. i have one…..

    and how have i missed this blog? adding it to my roll….

    • Michelle DeRusha

      They start back on August 14 – can you tell that I am kind of counting the days?! ;) The 104-degree days don’t exactly help – it’s hard to send the kids outdoors in such terrible heat.

      I love Susan – she tells it real!

  • WendyPaineMiller

    I’ve been a crabby mama lately. Steve is in Haiti and my youngest is acting so wild lately. So this was EXACTLY what I needed to read today. I need to ease up with some of these goals and let it go that my house looks like the zoo had a field day here.
    ~ Wendy

    • Michelle DeRusha

      Wendy, this IS a tough situation – I can absolutely relate. With it crazy hot for weeks on end, the kids themselves are like caged zoo animals. It’s been a bit rough. Today I’m taking them to see Ice Age at the movie theatre – that ought to help!

    • Susan DiMickele

      Add me to the list of crabby mamas this summer! Thanks Wendy.

  • Mindy @ New Equus

    So glad you finally gave in Michelle! Speaking as a mom who also had the chance to stay at home while my young ‘uns were little it was well worth it! Just the like the dishes, the words will be waiting for you when you are less distracted! :) Great post!

    • Michelle DeRusha

      So true, Mindy, so true. Thanks for adding to the conversation here!

  • Kelly J Youngblood

    I’ve also been trying to remember that I won’t have this time with my kids forever, but it’s been a challenge. I’ve barely written anything this summer. On the plus side, I’ve gotten a few pieces of furniture repainted while we’ve been outside.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      Furniture repainting – I’m familiar with that routine! I’m constantly dragging tables into the backyard and spraypainting them white!

  • Jean Wise

    Summer can be such a distracting time to write. When I was getting ready to retire and wanted to concentrate on my writing, the best piece of advise I was given was : give yourself 6 months. We need that length of time to find a new schedule, and motivation. Really you are still in transition with this new title – full-time writer and have done much – attending She “freaks” for example. Give yourself some grace and enjoy summer and those precious kids…. love ya Michelle.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      You are so right, Jean – I like your perspective on this. Thank you!

  • Nancy Franson

    I’m so glad you wrote this. My son is home for the summer and, unexpectedly now, for the foreseeable future. Some days I struggle to put two sentences together. Some days I wonder why I’m even bothering.

    But here’s the thing–I have my son home. Now. Now is the time to show up and delight in him. Thanks for writing this, Michelle. And thanks for hosting her here, Susan.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      Love this, Nancy. And just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

  • Karna

    Well said — and the Ecclesiastes verse is a perfect reminder. My college and high schoolers are in-and-out all summer and I, too, have learned to treasure the moments. We’ll miss them when they’re gone.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      I knew right away when I was contemplating the frustrations of writing this summer that those were the verses I wanted to use. It was the Holy Spirit speaking those verses to me right then and there.

  • donnapyle

    Michelle, I’m so glad that you cut yourself some slack! Part of the joys of being a work-from-home mom (as you’ve stated before) is being available to spend time with your family. That means summer fun! When the summer season is over, the next season gets underway and your writing routine will slip back in place. In the meantime, just think of all the future writing material you’re learning as you play and observe your wonderful kiddos!

    • Michelle DeRusha

      So true, Donna, so true – how did you get to be so wise? :)

  • Megan Willome

    Yep. Been there. And you know what? Someday those kids at home will be teenagers, and they won’t mind that you’re working. It’ll be, “Hey, Mom. I’m leaving.” And you’ll look at them lovingly and say, “‘Bye, Hon.” Because you’re happy.

    • Michelle DeRusha

      Sometimes I feel like I can’t wait for those teenage days…and then I chastise myself for wishing away the here and now.

  • Tami @

    I need to resolve to spend more time with my teeny boppers while they are still home.

  • Mary Bonner

    This is so true…we don’t get to keep them young for long. I agree with Nancy…Now is the time to show up.

    Love reading your words and when the boys go back to school I am sure you will find more time.


  • Laura Boggess

    Oh, I get this. It seems like in the summer it’s all about meals. How dare those children expect me to feed them? Productivity is relative :). Loved visiting you both, Susan and Michelle.

  • Melinda

    When I contacted Ekaka, I was in a complete mess. My love life had
    gone completely down the drain, and it looked absolutely HOPELESS. If it
    hadn’t been for careful advice and his
    precious spells to relieve me of the negativity around me, I would have
    never been able to keep going, and I wouldn’t have a boyfriend, either.
    Now I do! He’s a guy I already knew from work, but had never “thought of
    him that way,” at least not until Ekaka cast his spell to show me the
    way. He is the best. He saved me!!