Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My internal battle

On Sunday afternoon I walked across the alley behind our house to my neighbor’s home to check on Samuel (they have two boys close to Samuel’s age and the three of them play together every week). As I opened their gate and walked up their sidewalk, the afternoon sun warmed my face. I stopped and looked around their backyard…and thought it would be a perfect day to sit in the sun and read.

I brushed away that thought and walked into my neighbor’s home where they were watching the Viking’s game on television. I checked on Samuel, chatted with my neighbor and then returned home to sort coupons, make my grocery list, and check out the sales items for the week at various stores. After 60 minutes of meal planning and list-making, I rested on the couch thinking a Sunday afternoon nap sounded good. But I couldn’t sleep (even though I love naps) so off I went to the store.

And while I'm driving in my car, my internal battle
the one I struggle with dailycomes to light.

Why don’t I sit in the sun on a lazy Sunday afternoon while one kid naps, one kid plays at a friend’s house and one husband snoozes while watching football? I do things for myself: I go to craft night once a month. I meet with girlfriends for after bedtime chats every once in a while and occasionally I even eat in a restaurant with a friend. Saturday I spent 7 hours celebrating a friend who turned 40 this month. I attend events with friends, but I rarely enjoy unscheduled things for pleasure.


Because I schedule my fun. And when fun isn't scheduled, there is work to be done.

Seriously...who does that?!

A friend asked me not too long ago about whether or not I take Sabbath days. And I don’t. I often use the days I have at home to get all the stuff done I can’t do on the days I am in the office. And when I don’t accomplish tasks, I feel very far behind.

I am a doer. Even when I go to a friend’s home or meet someone for coffee, I am doing. I am celebrating a friend. I am being social. I am accomplishing an activity.

I read plenty of parenting articles about letting it all go and just sitting on the floor and playing with the kids. In two days last week….two entire days…I’m not sure I sat on the floor once and played a game or made a puzzle or read a book with my kids (other than the usual bed time reading). We did make play dough together – but that was still me completing a task. Because you know, making play dough was on my to-do list and I was happy to cross it off. I certainly didn't sit at the table and play with my kids. I cleaned up the kitchen while they played.

I have a little secret: I am obsessed with doing.

I make to-do lists almost daily. I text myself things to do. I email myself things to do. I write notes to remind myself what to do. I even wrote a blog post for work awhile back about this phrase: Do less. Be more. I am preaching to the choir friends. And the choir is made up of one person: me.

I want to be more and do less. And yet….I don’t live that way. I’m so busy doing that I’m missing the days and moments and hours of just being. Being seems so appealing. I love bubble baths. I love snuggling on the couch under a blanket and reading. I enjoy being creative and yet, unless it’s on the calendar, I don’t do it. I let the cooking and laundry and meal planning and picking up around the house and preparing for tomorrow fill my minutes, hours and days.

In my brain, there is always something I should be doing. The word bored has never been part of my vocabulary. And the times I’m too lazy to actually get up and do what needs to be done, I often times feel a heavy burden and sense of guilt.

When Ryan and I watch a movie I’m usually multi-tasking so I don’t feel like I wasted that time. Why in the world do I think relaxing and watching a movie with my husband is wasting time?

I’m constantly living by my to-do list and my list is never done.

I’m also constantly living for future state. Future state 1: Ryan is employed and our life looks different. Future state 2: we have more income. Future state 3: the kids are older and more independent and require less supervision (and yet the thought of this is enough to put me in tears because I love the little arms that wrap around my neck and the small hands that hold mine). Future state 4: my home is organized. Yes, please laugh with me because that future state is far, far, far away.

Living in any future state, leaves me missing out on Sunday afternoon reading time with a cup of hot tea and sweet moments to read or rock with my kids. Living by my to-do list holds me bondage to a dirty bathtub, a fridge that hasn’t been cleaned out in months, recycling that needs to be taken out, a closet that needs serious help, toys that need to be sorted and back steps that have cob webs growing on them.

I realize part of this is my personality. And part of this is a sickness created by our culture that idealizes doing, doing and doing some more. But I also take responsibility that I am a grown adult and just as I tell my kids they have a choice, I have choices every day in how I choose to spend my time.

Yes dishes need to be washed, lunches need to be packed and my family needs clean clothes to wear. But my obsession with doing and my fear of being will only succeed in robbing me of the abundant life that is mine for the taking.

It's a daily battle. My flesh works hard to stay busy doing. It fights the Spirit who is calling me to a life of being

I'm continually learning that rather than try harder, I just need to stand in awe of what was already done and allow the One who created me, teach me how to be still in Him.  

**Side note: I will be the first to admit that I am totally delusional about future state 3. From what I read and observe and hear from friends who are further along in parenting, I’m currently experiencing a very ideal time in parenting. At ages 3 and 4 I no longer deal with teething and sleepless nights or endless crying that leaves me confused and exhausted. And I’m not yet into classroom volunteering, sports, other extra-curricular activities, fundraisers, homework or many of the other commitments that come with school-age children. So future Stacy, please tell present-day Stacy to soak up these days. They are sweet. And fun. And full of opportunities to play at the park, do puzzles for hours on end and create terrific play dough sculptures out of warm, fresh dough.   


Zach Lien said...

This is me. This is TOTALLY me. I spent my entire Sunday also making lists and stressing about getting everything in order for the week. It's Tuesday today, and while I feel somewhat caught up on things I need to "Do" I have missed out on resting, and just enjoying life with my husband. These are good reminders.

I am always waiting for the future state and often forget that I need to enjoy the NOW.

Jeri said...

SO right! Got must have given you that word- not only for yourself, but for all of us in the same place. Thank you for the reality check. Now go rest... ;)

Jeri said...

I mean God. Darn typos.

cybil said...

You are right. It is so important to enjoy your life, your loved ones and let all go for a while sometimes!!
And you can assume an exciting future with older kids too!
All the best,
I enjoy your posts!!

Meredith said...

Oh sweet Stacy. Way to put my feelings to words. Thank you for the best reminder. I'm working on this too.