Something I am constantly striving for and shockingly enough, actually feel like I'm coming close(r) to acheiving.
When Emersyn was younger, I hoarded our time together. I didn't pursue friendships for myself except for a select few, and I defined my quality time with her as us at home, doing nothing but soaking in each other's presence. But instead of actually soaking in Emersyn's prescense, I often took advantage of her sweet easy going disposition and mastered the art of keeping up with the laundry, making dinner each night and having a presentable home. I struggled very much with feeling adequate as a new mom (which I'm finding we ALL do) and those feelings mixed with some good old fashioned hormones led to a mild case of postpartum depression. I talked with a counselor, which I HIGHLY recommend if you are struggling with any sort of sadness or anxiety, and through a couple 30 minute chats I was able to redefine some of my expectations. Most of our chats consisted of ME chatting myself through my feelings. One thing that the counselor made me realize was that by participating in activities and playdates with Emersyn, I might actually pay more attention to her versus being the busy body that I am at home and trying to be the queen of multi-tasking.
So, over time I started to fill up our schedule more. Because of Brett's work schedule, my availability for social time is kinda limited. He is off Thursday and Friday so those are special family days for us and then most of my friends have their family days on the weekends so I am only left with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to hang out with mama's on playdates. Tuesdays I am usually involved in something at church and so Monday's and Wednesday's quickly became full with playdates and other fun social things. And yet, I found myself overwhelmed with the same inadequate feelings and this time, my house was a MESS due to lack of time at home. My house being messy leads to a wickedly cranky Patti. In addition, I started to feel like Emersyn was just plain tired. It's a lot for a toddler to be going going going all the time.
Thus, I have tried to scale life back down to a reasonable pace. I have realized that Emersyn and I NEED mornings at home together on days that I work occasionally. It's quality time that both her and I enjoy and it makes for a much happier mommy and toddler. This means that sometimes I let people down when I realize that's 3 weeks before I can get together but the friends that truly understand that are the ones that I treasure the most.
This is a word that makes me cringe.
Every so often a friend will say, "think you can squeeze us into your busy schedule"? Or last week I met with the women's ministry director at church and she said that she had been wanting me to get involved for some time but that several people had told her that I was too "busy".
I am blessed to have a large network of friends through going to a large church, reconnecting with high school friends via Facebook, new mommy friends that I meet through current mommy friends, etc. Because of my limited availability like I explained earlier, yes, it does appear that I am *busy*. But I still have priorities. I still want a pie chart of my time to reflect quality activites; activities that matter in light of eternity ya know? I never want to give my friends the impression that I am too *busy* for them....that just makes me sad. My neighbors paid for a babysitter the other day and I asked why they didn't ask me first (I am a HUGE believer in child care swapping, for reals) and she said because she knows I am always *busy*. I think she was also respecting the fact that it was one of my family days but still, I would have loved to be asked and had the opportunity to help them out. I am inspired when I hang out with awesome women. I am so grateful for my farmer's market buddy whose husband also works on Saturdays. It's NO fun to go to the market by yourself (even with Emersyn), surrounded by families whose husbands DON'T work on the weekends. Hanging out with Caitlin makes me forget that and makes me LOVE my Saturdays, even though Brett works. Sundays are a little harder because I hate going to church alone but that will change once our church goes back to two services in the fall. Anyways, I digress......
Yes, our lives are busy but in part, that is because we LOVE life. We aren't major homebodies on our days off; we love to go to the park, on bike rides, shopping, etc. I'm sure it makes us appear as always doing something but that's just how Brett and I are and it makes us happy for the most part. Sometimes we end up with a day off where we do nothing and those are relaxing too.
This morning I skipped my Tuesday morning playgroup at church. I needed a morning "off". It was glorious. Emersyn and I played. We colored. We laughed. I went into my kitchen and saw that the dishwasher needs to be emptied and some dishes done. But then I realized, I am going to spend 30 minutes cleaning this kitchen only to come home and mess it up again making dinner. No thank you. Instead I danced with my baby.
I also did something I didn't think was possible before. I did my devotions while Emersyn was up and playing. I used to think that my quiet time needed to be done in the early morning, long before anyone was awake in my home. But that didn't happen this morning and I just said, I'm going to do it anyways! And it was awesome. I would read a page or two, write in my prayer journal, then pause to color with Emersyn. I told Emersyn, "mommy is going to have some quiet time, would you like to read or color with me?" and she loved it. I love the idea of her growing up, knowing that her mama values her time with the Lord and that she seeks to better herself as a person. Emersyn happily colored beside me for approximately two minutes and it was great. :)
I am finding a lot of freedom in life by letting things go. I have a whole post on marriage brewing in my head on that topic even. :) I've realized that in order to acheive the balance that I aspire to in life, that means that my kitchen isn't always going to be clean, the laundry hamper might never be empty, and there may be an ever growing stack of un-read magazines in the basket next to the chair in my living room. But my daughter will be happy and feel loved, my husband will feel like his home is one of warmth and affection versus a crazy woman always complaining about things not being perfect enough, and I will feel like I AM adequate through the guidance of the Lord.
I was asked recently to get on board with the women's ministry team at my church and of course, my initial thought is "I don't have any time!!!". But this is something I want to make time for. Investing in other women, being an example for my daughter. One time Brett told me that I needed to not stress about being involved in ministry at the sacrifice of occasional time with Emersyn. He told me that Emersyn will never remember occasional evenings away from mama but she will appreciate the kind of person I am as she grows older. That thought really stuck with me.
I think it's so important in life that we don't get caught up in the mirage that we think life *should* be at the cost of not enjoying how life truly *is*. I will not be hostage to the way of thinking that says, "someday when you lose the weight, someday when you don't work, someday when you have a bigger house, someday someday someday". Instead I will appreciate TODAY and make it the best one possible. (I'm pretty sure I've written this 1000 times before)
I hope these jumbled thoughts make sense and by NO means am I trying to convince you all that I've got life figured out. If anyone out there DOES figure life out, will you let me know?? :) It's therapeutic for me to blog out my thoughts, anyone else feel that way too? :)
Angie Smith wrote a great post today that really got me thinking too and actually had a lot of similarities with some of my overall thoughts today. Click here to go to her blog.