Recently, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. September and October are always busy, but this year, it seemed like it was ten times worse. I almost felt like I could barely tread the waters of life without drowning.
I was drowning in commitments, work, house chores, and I wasn’t giving 100% of myself to my family. While my day planner and appearance looked like I had it “all together,” I was the furthest from it. I was a hot mess.
I was sort of like Adam Sandler’s character in Click. I was there, but I was just going through the motions. Get up, go to work, come home, make dinner, bathe and read to toddler. I would try to capture every.little.moment. on the camera or on my phone, but I wasn’t truly LIVING those moments. I had a few days here and there where I had some quality time with Andrew, but overall, during the last few months, I was feeling like I had missed out on something.
Then I got sick and was forced to take two days off to get well. It was my body’s (and maybe God’s) way of telling me it was time to sit and think.
And think, I did. While I sat holed up on the couch, I also was able to read some blog posts about white space written by Erin at Blue Eyed Bride. They really spoke to me and reiterated SO MANY things that David, the Reiki practitioner, had even recommended to me in our conversation the month before. At the time of our session, I felt refreshed and content, but once I started to read Erin’s posts, it all came to light for me.
Being worried and anxious were starting to creep back into my life, and I was starting to doubt myself. I kept feeling like I was overbooking myself in an attempt to keep up appearances, while at the same time, I felt like I was letting friends down. During my Reiki session, David and I had a great chat. I don’t know if it was because he was a stranger, or because he made me feel so at ease, but I totally unloaded on him. I mean, I rambled about so many things that had me worked up. At the end of our session, he gave me some really great information and suggestions on how I can work through many of those things.
The biggest thing on the top of his list: simplify my life. Return to the simple things that bring me joy. Focus on those things and the rest would fall into place.
I think, as mothers, we have a tendency to want to “do it all” and we feel like we HAVE to. The fact is, we aren’t superwomen and we aren’t robots; we are HUMAN. More times than not, we’re not doing anyone any favors when we overextend ourselves either. I felt like if I didn’t go to this event or that dinner, or if I skipped out on something, I was going to disappoint someone or not meet up to expectations (although those were expectations I had set myself). That became abundantly clear when I became sick. In my constant desire to try and “do it all,” not only did my health remind me that it isn’t possible, but my heart realized it too.
A week or so later, I spent the weekend with my family camping. We disconnected from technology and played outside. I did take pictures, but I didn’t keep the phone or camera constantly at the ready to capture every little giggle. We popped popcorn in the campfire, took walks, and skipped rocks. In the early morning hours, we watched squirrels chase each other into trees, listened to blue jays and cardinals call to each other, and got to spend quality time with cousins we don’t see often enough.
When we got home, we were tired, but our hearts were full. It was then that I looked at my calendar and realized that I really needed to start managing my time better. I needed to stop trying to keep up appearances and spend more time with the people who need me the most, my family. All of those years, I had prayed for my own little family and here I was, not using that sweet, special time I had with my people (and my dog), my most precious gifts. I realized that not only should I turn to God for grace in the hard moments of motherhood, but also, I should look to myself and take responsibility. I should stop trying to meet some preconceived notion of what I need to do to be a good person and mother and give myself some grace. I need to accept that I can’t do it all and in order to be a good mother, I just need to be LIVING the moment and enjoying those simple, beautiful moments that are gifts not to be wasted.
The following weekend, we spent the whole weekend as a family doing nothing, but everything. We carved pumpkins (yes, after Halloween), we played in the backyard (apparently I make a great “horsey”), cooked dinner together, and cuddled in for another showing of Toy Story 3. As we sat on our back porch and watched the sun go down, I felt my heart begin to feel right and full again, and I knew all I needed was a little bit of love and time with my family.