A week or so ago I ambushed my kid while he napped. It's the only way to cut his hair (and now, apparently clip his nails, since he's become such a boy who despises all-things involving personal care, cleanliness and upkeep). He fights when I slather on lotion. He screams like I'm trying to pull his toes out if I attempt to bring them near a set of clippers. He waves me away if I play with the too-long hair over his ear. The only part of getting dressed that he likes is if he happens to be getting to wear his Buzz Lightyear shirt (which I faithfully wash about as soon as it comes off his squirmy little self.)
So, I snuck into his room during nap time, armed with a small pair of scissors and a lint roller (trust me, it works great for picking up those fine baby hairs from the bed!) And I went to work. The only problem is, Mommy was impatient and had entered too soon. It's my own fault for being in a go-go-get-it-done mood. I blame the beloved Second Trimester for making me a complete fool when it comes to to-do lists and accomplishing the most in the least amount of time.
As I snipped and lint-rollered-away, he woke up. And he was none too happy about it. Not only did I not get to do as good a job on his head as I would have liked, but he refused to continue his nap. Take that, Mom.
As I dealt with a toddler who had barely taken a 30 minute nap that day (as opposed to a more typical 1.5 hour rest), I had to deal with the truth that his poor napping that day had very little to do with him and everything to do with me. And not just me, but my insane impatience and inability to wait until he was truly asleep before I started tinkering. My problem was that I had things to do and cutting his hair was one of those things to do and I wasn't going to be able to rest until I did it. I walked around chagrined, thinking over and over, "Haste makes waste, haste makes waste, haste makes...."
A new life is on my horizon. It's going to involve another little bundle of joy, another boy. Another adorable, miraculous, mind-numbingly-exhausting tiny little man to interrupt the flow of my days and any hopes I have of getting the necessary sleep requirements to be a functional human being. And I anticipate new life and change and I try to get ready. Try to prepare, try to organize, try to make room in an already stuffed house for more stuff and another bed and another life. It can make me hurried.
Change can make us rush. It possess a lot of allure. We can think something is best for us, better than best, and we stand tall and ready to forge our way in a new world. But what if a change of scenery or occupation isn't what is needed? What if it is as simple as a shift in priorities, a bending low to listen, to pause, to take time to really ask, "What am I doing and why am I doing it?"
Today I sat and asked myself what the priorities are in my life. What the most important things, scenarios, people, are. And what am I doing that emphasizes (or de-emphasizes) their importance? Am I living as thought my priorities matter or am I falling into the trap of busyness and rush?
For instance, I choose to stay home with our children. I choose to make laundry and dishes and dinner my priority. I chose that. It is what my husband and I both wanted for our family, but it is one of those "deal breakers" that I presented to him early on (like on the first date - ha!) in our relationship. I was going to stay home with my babies. But when I'm home, if I choose a myriad of distractions (many online) over my children, what is that really saying about my priorities? If I say my primary job is to care for my men (big and little!), what does it say when dinner is a frozen pizza,.... again?
The problem with having an intentional set of top priorities for your life means that you're going to have to sacrifice other things for them. I can't say my relationship with my husband is in the number one bracket if I do little to care for him and/or nurture our relationship. Just because I keep making babies with him and choose to be faithful isn't all it means to make him a priority. And just being around to insure that Joel doesn't take a dive off the dining room table is not why I'm a stay at home Mom. It's more than that. But if I am focused on things that don't fit in with the desires I truly have - the ones I have been given by God to bless Him and to bless others - then what the heck am I doing? And why?
I'm an introvert. I like being home. And those two things can be a good thing when I use them to nurture those around me and to welcome the space and the quiet to give me opportunity to breathe and not turn into a crazy person. But it can also be taken too far and I can become complacent and lazy (gosh, I really hate that word) in my work and in the things that I deeply deem most, most important. I can swing from one end to the next one day, rushing to cut hair and to fold laundry, to fit in some devoted quiet time while I fold the laundry and think about dinner. I can try to do it all. And then the next day I may do it again. But eventually I hit a wall and crash because no one can do it all, all the time. And yet we try.
That's why I chose a journal and a pen and made a list. I wrote out what matters most, what things or situations in life I would feel so empty without. The things that not only make me want to be a better wife and a mother, but those items that are most important to me, myself. Sometimes it's hard to separate who I am from what I do. I'm currently growing a human being as I try to raise a human being and sometimes that's all I can do: exist and eat a sandwich and make it until bedtime.
But what exhausts me is very rarely my priorities. I mean, yes, I won't lie, my little boy makes me tired. But he also is my biggest joy. What exhausts me is everything else I pile on or the expectations I heap up onto my plate. Kind of like when you say, "Oh, yes, I'll have that healthy salad!" and then you destroy its purity by dousing it with a layer of fatty dressing so thick you don't even know if there's a salad still under there. That's what I do sometimes. And that's what I don't want to do at all. I want to choose the salad and I want to enjoy that salad and I want to know at the end of the day that I ate that salad.
That may be the dumbest analogy I have ever, ever used.
But it makes sense to me and I need things to be simple and to click and at the same time to be convicting. Because I don't want to look back and wonder what I "ate" (ie: how I lived). I don't want to wonder if I did enough with my boys; I want to know that I did my best and loved with all I had and that I was focused and intentional. I don't want to grow old with my husband and wonder who he is or who we are. I want to know. I don't want to wonder if my friends know they matter; I want to show them. And I don't want to wonder if I could have done better in the kitchen or with the organizing or with my own personal gifts and creativity. I want to know that I tried. That I had fun. That I wrote that song or wrote that story or painted that closet just for fun.
I'm tired of expectations. I'm tired of allowing myself to feel guilted into a path that does not match up with my core group of desires for this life and for my relationships. If I say that something matters to me, then it matters and I can't let something less take it's place. We are so easily enticed by things and situations and online this-and-that... and it sucks away our time and it sucks away our lives and it sucks away our love.
I don't want anything to simply take away my love and focus like that. I want the choice to give it. And the only way I maintain control is if I determine what matters most and live like it matters most.
"No temptation has overtaken
you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and He will
not let you be tempted beyond your
ability, but with temptation he
will also provide the way of escape..."
~ I Corinthians 10:13, ESV