More is Not More

I am in a constant battle against busyness. Let me define what busyness means to me. It’s any time I have to leave my house. Yep. That’s about it. If I can be home all day, working on chores, hanging out with family, cooking, cleaning, changing diapers, wiping noses, breaking up fights, reading books out loud, basically non-stop activity from the time I get up till I go to bed…as long as I didn’t have to leave the house, it was not a busy day. 

 

Then I have days like today. The kids had the day off from school. Yay! So, at 11am I had to take one daughter to the dentist. Her tooth chipped while eating a hamburger at school. A big chunk came off. The dentist is baffled, it shouldn’t have happened, it’s in an odd location, none of it makes sense. She will now have to get a crown on her tooth. Good grief. So, we finished that appointment then came home. Then at 1:30pm I had to take an older daughter to a doctor’s appointment for what turned out to be bronchitis. Fun. Then, on the way home we stopped at the store. Got home, announced I was now ready to make the library run that everyone had been pestering me about all day. Loaded up five kids into the car and ran down to the library. Came home. Then an hour later, had to to drive my daughter to her job. Then three hours later, had to go pick her up from her job. (This child needs to turn sixteen and get her license!). And then, of course, we had to stop at the pharmacy on the way home to get the prescribed medicine from the earlier appointments. 

 

It’s these kind of days that wear me out. 

 

Everyone I know is busy. And most of them don’t seem to be overly happy about it. Maybe it’s a matter of our time-saving devices actually, in the end, not saving us very much time. Just think about it, if we didn’t have cars that we could zoom all over the place with, we would no longer be zooming all over the place. I know, cars aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but there is a definite appeal to a slower lifestyle. 

 

I have found that simply raising my family is about all I can handle. I’ve been on a long journey of saying No. No, we don’t have the time to do sports. No, I can’t sign up to help in this ministry. No, I will not be able to be a key person in this project. No, I can’t volunteer this weekend. No, we aren’t going to sign our kids up for the extra curricular activities. No.

 

As my kids have gotten older, they have wanted to be involved in more things. That’s fine. Our high school is only a couple blocks away. If my kids want to stay after school to be in a club or sport or band or anything, they can simply walk home afterwards. Our middle school has a free after-school program that offers all kinds of clubs and they bus the kids home afterwards. I can handle that. It doesn’t involve me getting in my car and driving anywhere. 

 

Here’s the thing. When I’m busy, I don’t have time to think and ponder. When I’m busy I tend to operate at a much higher stress level. When I’m busy I forget to be thankful. When I’m busy, I tend to get cranky and irritable. When I’m busy, I miss out on all the little moments. Moments like sitting quietly in front of the fireplace, just watching the flames. Sitting on the edge of my daughter’s bed while she gets ready to go to sleep, hearing her excited chatter about all the things she’s going to do tomorrow. Stopping what I’m doing so I can watch my two year old show me his “trick” of rolling his toy car really really really fast! Or maybe, stepping out on my porch to get the mail, and noticing the birds flying overhead. 

 

I find that when I take life at a slower pace, it’s a lot richer. It’s kind of like the difference between skimming through a Shakespeare play in an hour, or taking a semester long class that spends the entire time analyzing the play. I can zoom through a day, crashing into bed at the end, exhausted and soul-weary. Or, I can meander my way through the day, stopping along the way to enjoy the view, discover some hidden gems, spend some quality time with loved ones…ending the day with a heart of thankfulness and peaceful sleep. I, for one, prefer the latter. 

 

Yes, life sometimes does get busy, and it’s beyond your control. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it. But, I think it’s worth it to keep on fighting for a peaceful, slower life. We can say No. When it comes to busyness, More is not More. It’s less. 

 

Love Tinted Glasses

This evening I felt myself succumbing to a really grumpy mood. I rehashed my day and thought about how bad it had been. Woke up way before the alarm went off, couldn’t go back to sleep. First day of kids going back to school meant an early morning and a bit of craziness getting everyone out the door. Had to take the two year old to a well-child checkup appointment at 9 am. Had to take the two little ones to Walmart for a big shopping. Got home at lunch and had a million things to do, but the baby fell asleep on my lap and clung to me any time I tried to move him so I ended up sitting in a chair with him for two hours. When he finally woke up I only had 45 minutes before I had to get back in the car to pick everyone up from school. Had to take my seven year old to physical therapy after I got the kids home from school. Didn’t get home till it was time to make supper. House was a mess. Kids were making a lot of noise. Aside from feeding people, I hadn’t got any housework done. I was stepping over toys on the floor, kicking dirty clothes out of the way, grabbing the baby as he tried to reach up on the counters and pull everything down. The younger kids all had their skates on and were crashing around the house, running into walls and furniture as they wobbled around. Chaos. I don’t like chaos.

As I sat at the supper table, I suddenly had a perspective shift. All the kids were sitting around the table talking to each other, talking with me and my husband. Everyone was laughing and joking with each other. My kids were fighting over who got to talk to me first about their day. The older kids were teasing the little ones. After the meal everyone gathered in the living room. It was still chaotic, kids running around in circles chasing each other. Every once in a while a child would hand me a book to read out loud. My oldest boy was playing the piano. My husband was working at the fireplace, trying to get our new wood burning stove installed. Still Chaos.

But good chaos. Family hanging out together. People enjoying each other’s company. Kids basking in being at home, being a part of a family, being loved. Warmth, security.

Two ways to look at the day. A failure: house didn’t get cleaned; dishes didn’t get washed; laundry didn’t get done. Or, a complete success. Children were hugged and cuddled; kids were listened to; laughter was shared. It was actually a good day.

Perhaps my perspective shift was simply getting a heavenly glimpse of my life. Seeing things through love-tinted glasses. And that is my New Year’s Resolution, that I would start slapping those glasses on my face every day and start judging my success on how well I loved that day, not how many chores I checked off my list. Love God, love people. It’s going to be a good year.