Perspective

With our late-October freak snowstorm, four-day power outage, and the start of National Novel Writing Month all hitting at about the same time, the degree to which I’ve over-scheduled and overcommitted myself and my kids became alarmingly clear. The chaos began with my husband’s lay-off in March and has just continued long after its needed to. Here we are, months after moving into our house, and I’m still in something like survival mode. I’m not happy. The kids aren’t happy. My husband’s happy but that’s because nothing ruffles his feathers. But even he admits things are more complicated than they seem like they ought to be.

As Janet Luhrs points out in The Simple Living Guide, we often keep ourselves busy to avoid intimacy with others and with ourselves. Whether or not that was my intention as I added so many responsibilities, it’s certainly had that effect. I feel so rushed, I rarely take the time any more to just be with my kids. I have no time for their emotional bumps and bruises because we’ve got somewhere to be in twenty minutes and the drive takes thirty-five. When my daughter was two years old, she had very few tantrums, in part because when she started to feel overwhelmed or upset, I had plenty of time and energy to empathize with her and talk her through our options. If push came to shove, we’d just scrap our plans for the day.

I don’t know exactly when I stopped doing that, but I’m sure the best my son’s gotten is the emotional equivalent to an emotional band-aid, so it has to have been at least two years. As a result, all three of us have more tantrums.

I repeat to myself over and over, “I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for this.”

Why don’t I have time?

It’s because I’m prioritizing other things over being there for my kids. Or my husband. Or myself. And by “being there” I mean not only physically in their presence, but present in the moment, with them, where they are right then.

I’m not going to solve this with creative scheduling or some magic combination of activities. I have to solve it from the inside out, and that means giving myself the space to think, reflect, connect, and just be. It means deciding what activities will feed us and help us connect and bring us joy, and it means saying a polite but decisive “no” to those activities that don’t do these things. It means accepting that being at home together, playing, and connecting as a family is enough.

It means letting go of my reliance on things outside myself when I estimate my self-worth. I am not my blog stats, my Goodreads list, my Twitter feed, my Facebook status (no matter how witty), my deliberate wardrobe, my intentionally messy up-do, or the numbers on my caller ID.

I don’t know yet what I’m going to cut and what I’m going to keep. I don’t want to make any abrupt changes, so I hope that I’ll be able to take this slow.

I have no immediate plans for the blog (just for the blog stats, which I plan to ignore as much as possible). Just know that if you don’t read something from me for a while, it’s likely because I’m making space for something else.

6 comments

  1. Zoie @ TouchstoneZ · November 14, 2011

    This is yet another wonderful post. There are so many gems in here that I really want to take the time to think about it some more. I’ll come back and read this several times. It’s speaking to me because I’m overwhelmed with projects, partially on purpose. I’m tired of pining away for my lack of writing time. So, I’m writing every $%^ moment of every $^Y^ day. I’m already learning about what I want to prioritize and we’re not even halfway through this month.

    I’m also in the process of completing my first go at a personal mission statement. So, this post is hitting those points for me, as well.

    As for stats, I don’t look at anything except what people are searching for because they give good idea for future posts and for huge laughs. I look at my hits every week or two, mostly to again see if it might be a nice idea to write a follow up post on one that is consistently getting views. I honestly don’t care how many people view. It’s the comments I live for! The level of engagement I receive is what has meaning for me.

    On the other hand, I can understand the attraction to checking stats. If it’s something that feeds you and gives you happiness, then go for it!

    Like

  2. Stacy · November 13, 2011

    I’m feeling very out of balance lately too- like I’m doing too many things and doing them all poorly. I need to find a way to adjust things so that my family isn’t suffering.

    Like

  3. Cathy Trahan · November 13, 2011

    What a timely post. I am just thinking about what I have to do to keep the next few months more quiet so I have time to just BE. Take time off from posting if that helps. Truly, we will still be here, but know I do enjoy reading your posts. I think I will have to read that book too that you mention. But first I need to read a book for me, maybe a mystery that I can dive into! Reading is such a pleasurable experience and you do seem to find time to do that. It impresses me that you take the time for yourself and read what you enjoy.

    Like

  4. ceceliafutch · November 13, 2011

    Oh wow, do I ever relate. Good for you that you are choosing to be mindful about what is going on in your life. A good reminder for me to follow suit. I am exhausted and so in need of quiet, peace, contentment. My best to you. I must take a break from this rat race, too, somehow.

    Like

  5. Melanie Meadors · November 13, 2011

    When we found ourselves in a similar situation a couple years ago, we basically stopped and reset, really examined our priorities, and just stayed home for a while. We visited friends and family, but all the random errands, all the running around, activities, etc, we put on hold. I also had to really get on myself to stop “keeping busy” on the computer, and spend real time with my son. It really worked wonders. Things were fabulous. But now, with all this stuff that has been happening over the past several weeks, we are in need of a purge again. Things have gotten way out of hand, and i feel anxious all the time. I really want to have more time to have friends over, to relax, and to NOT have an agenda. right now it feels like i can’t let anything happen unless it is for some “end.” I just want to chill and look at what is important. Maybe a mission statement is in order. I hope you are able to find your center and things calm down for you soon.

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  6. timbra · November 13, 2011

    this post is a mirror for me. . . or at least a reflection of some of the same things i’ve been going through. i’m always rushing to the next thing, leaving too late, saying “i don’t have time for this” realizing that i need to build in time for how independent my children are. . .the other day alani totally freaked out because i was freezing my butt off and i unbuckled her buckle just to expedite things. it DIDN’T expedite, i spent the next 10 minutes trying to either talk her down from her upset or pretend it didn’t exist and then ended up having to go back outside to buckle her back in and give her a “redo” that she was demanding, it was just TOO upsetting for her. . . we need to have time for these littles. . . . good luck. and darn, i was just coming to rely on you as probably the ONLY person i know will post something new for me to read regularly 🙂 enjoy the “time” you find

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