I am a busy person. I come from a long line of busy, productive women. My grandmother was still crocheting tiny baby clothes well into her 90s and only stopped when her hands and eyes failed her.
I feel most at ease when I am doing. Even when I watch TV in the evening it is often with a craft project in front of me or my planner open working out the week’s schedule. If I look at the calendar and there are a whole bunch of empty spots I think of ways to fill them.
With this way of living comes lots of good things: I love being able to contribute to my school/local/global community; I love being able to show generosity to my friends and family; I love the satisfaction that comes from a job well done.
But this way of living also comes with a fairly constant feeling of uneasiness and restlessness. I find it really hard to just sit for any period of time without doing something; even reading a book feels wrong (I’m not ‘producing’ anything). I find it difficult to sit with my own thoughts for too long and tend to avoid confronting them if I can fill that void with a ‘project’. I find it hard to spend time playing with my kids when I could be tidying/cooking/organising something.
So I have decided it’s time to make some changes to enjoy my life, my kids and my home more and spend less time exhausting myself.
1) Being comfortable in the mess of life
I don’t mean living like a slob or allowing the house to be overrun by cockroaches but its time I realised that no-one really cares what my house looks like or how well my kids’ hair is done, except me. No-one is judging me for it (and if they are that’s their problem). My little sister has 3 kids under 5. Her house is usually pretty messy. And I LOVE visiting with her. She always puts on an amazing spread of food and a hot cuppa; her kids are beautiful, secure, well-adjusted kids; and there is so much imaginative play going on. If I clean my house today it will just be messy again tomorrow; if I don’t put my hand up for every kinder committee activity, someone else will help out! But investing in my kids always has a return and one that I will continue to see for years to come! Here’s to being more like little sisters 🙂
2) Letting go of unhelpful parenting standards
I got this idea growing up that good parenting is deliberate and fully-engaged ALL THE TIME! Not only is that kind of parenting exhausting, but it means my kids never learn to play/share/negotiate/create on their own; they rely on my intervention in every situation. This does my kids no favours in the long run (because these are all vital life skills) but it also means I must be constantly switched on. It’s time I let my kids be by themselves so they learn- and I rest! The moments I feel I am most winning at parenting is when my kids are playing together peacefully or negotiating a conflict without calling on me… and I can read another chapter of my book (that I am able to read now even though it’s not ‘productive’) without interruption!
3) Understanding my real value
Sometimes I wonder whether I do all these things to make sure I have value. If people NEED me then I will never be alone or forgotten. But my kids don’t love me because of how well I can dust a window sill; my husband doesn’t come home from work to me because he appreciates my ability to fold washing efficiently; my friends would love me even if I didn’t painstakingly handmake their birthday cards each year (though I’m still going to do it anyway because I love it)! I can do things because they are important to me or I enjoy them but if I am doing them to ensure I am worthy then I will never be able to rest, because there will always be more to do. My value comes from understanding that God created me as a unique and remarkable individual and that there is no-one else who can be ME as well as I can; no-one else who can be the mum, partner, friend, daughter that I was created to be!
Gabriel ‘Gubby’ Norris
MOPS Writer and former Field Leader.
(pictured here (r) receiving her Hands of MOPS award in 2016).