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.