In my last post, I spoke about finding respite during a busy time of my life. That is one virtue I’ve been trying to teach my teens these past few years: There are times throughout our lives when we must appreciate simple moments of rest and relaxation, for there are stressful periods when we cannot afford the luxury of leisurely breaks and long vacations.
Even during the hamster wheel that is my month of June, I still have laundry to wash, dishes to clean, garbage to take out, bills to pay, groceries to purchase, phone calls to return, schedules to assemble and reassemble, meals to cook, fuel to purchase… Each of us has similar schedules, similar obligations we must take care of. If we didn’t do these tasks, our utilities would be turned off, the house and our clothes would stink, we would either spend a fortune in eating out or go hungry. And for those of us with children? Well, we’d likely be reported to Child Protective Services for neglect.
We do have options. We could simply say No to the extraneous: No to overtime. No to school concerts and plays and sporting events. No to Play Dates. No to anything that doesn’t fit into our Daily Routine. We could say No to any one or all of the extras.
I am blessed to have three children who are active youth. They aren’t overachievers who are Altar Boys, Class Presidents, Team Captains in three school sports, play at least one instrument, sing, dance, act, write for academic newspapers, and serve at soup kitchens when they aren’t working at their paying job. My children are, however, each involved in sports year-round, and do participate in service classes through school. As such, there are numerous opportunities for us to be a part of their lives, and many events we choose to attend.
Someone once said to me, when I was rattling off the list of events I’d attended that week, probably in a state of overwhelm, “You chose to have those three kids.” Correct. The person who made the comment to me is one who seems to have mastered the art of No at a younger age than the rest of us, and appears to have little qualm in allowing the family’s teenagers to participate in school events without parent representation. Our choices are different. I look at it this way: I am only a mom once and I want to be there to experience their achievements and failures. I want them to know I am interested in their interests. Though I do schedule in time for myself, I consider my children my priority, and am selective about my personal choices, engaging in those activities that bring me joy, peace, or satisfaction.
This year, as June came to a close, I found myself preparing for my family to spread out across the globe for various activities. In hindsight, I might have fared better had I said No to all of the overtime that presented itself to me. And yet, the way I looked at it was this: The chaos had a definite end, only a few weeks away. And hubby and I would be able to use the extra money for an anniversary weekend getaway.
Part of teaching our children (and ourselves) is the act of doing. As they say in the writing world, “Show. Don’t tell.” By spending a few quiet moments each day, be it fifteen minutes (or so) in the hot tub each night, watching an hour of American Idol or America’s Got Talent with my husband, curled up on the couch to read a few more pages in the book I’ve been carrying around for months, or writing in this blog, I am demonstrating to my children the importance of relaxation, while creating patterns for myself that had previously felt a bit awkward. Raise your hand if your parents showed you how to be a hardworking person, and if you are familiar with the expression that correlates idle with the devil.
Last week was the most grueling. I ended up packing a few dirty clothes, some favorites I knew I could wash when I reached my destination. I left the house with clean laundry on the sofa, leftovers in the fridge, flower petals and dirt on the porch and deck, a dining room table full of papers and notes, a dirty bathroom, an unmade bed. But the most important things were done: Notes for my children to let them know how proud I am of them, and how much I love them. The bills were paid. And the rest? It will be waiting when I return.
My last June obligation behind me, I began this week with a lazy, relaxed sense of calm. My youngest son and I have been moving at a snail’s pace, sleeping late, eating whenever we feel like it, visiting with out-of-town family, reading, writing… Right now, we are both stretched out on a screened in porch, he a book in his hands, and me with my laptop. A southern storm passed through about an hour ago, bringing with it brilliant streaks of lighting, booming rounds of thunder, and a wind that carried away the stifling heat.
I’ve been doing some internet browsing today and stumbled across several blogs of note. I began this post with the intent of sharing with you 8 Ways to Optimize Your Life, a post I found at one of those sites. That’ll have to wait until next time. Right now, my stomach is moving me toward the kitchen, and America’s Got Talent is beckoning me into the living room…