Being a busy-body is in my blood. Growing up, my parents put a lot of effort into teaching their children to be hard workers… a lot of effort. When I was 13, my dad had us up every single morning at 5:00 to complete our paper route before school started. We ran the streets of New York, as fast as we could, trying to get done before 7 am. Every Saturday…EVERY Saturday, the house was cleaned from top to bottom, with ‘inspections’ before we could be done. Mom never forgot daily chores, we paid for nearly all of our own things (movie tickets, school clothes, car insurance), and our first part time job started as soon as it was legal. It wasn’t just important that we work hard, we were taught to do our best, and always play after our work was done. Teaching children to work hard requires a lot of effort! And, they did an awesome job.
Now, here I am, a mother of 5, proud of the work ethic that they instilled in me. It’s something I try to teach my own children. And, it’s a quality I feel is so valuable, as a mother. Aren’t there a million things to juggle, when you’re a mom? We don’t have much choice BUT to work hard. Sometimes the list seems never-ending…
Making sure the kids are healthy and exercising
Keeping up on doctor appointments, birthdays, homework
Taking them to dance, sports, scouts, and their friend’s homes
Keeping the house orderly, laundry done, dinner on the table, and the pantry stocked
Paying the bills, getting the internet fixed and the house sprayed for spiders
Keeping kids smelling fresh with clean bums
Making sure the kids are socially, spiritually, and emotionally fed
…and on, and on, and on. Not complaining, I love being a mother, but that’s just how it is. Moms have to work hard to be able to stay on top of things.
A few years ago, I started to notice something about myself. Something kinda crappy. I just wasn’t that much fun. I think I was taking the value of hard work a little too far. My kids would ask me to watch a movie, and I’d say, “Eh, I can’t right now. I’ve just got to finish this and that.” Or, if I did sit down to watch the movie, I was working on something at the same time, thinking about something else, and anxiously waiting for the movie to be over. I would read them a story, and I find myself secretly skipping pages, so I can get back to all the stuff that needs to be done. And, by the time everything was done…I was too dang tired to do much besides crash on my bed. Granted, most of the work I was doing was FOR my kids and husband, but I was finally starting to clue in to the signals that they were wanting something else from me. What kind of signals? Oh, usually random comments…”Mom, you never play,” or “Why are you sitting? You never sit down. That looks weird.” “Didn’t you just sweep the floor earlier?” “Mom, do you want to…oh, never mind.”
Being a busy-body may be in my blood, but it’s not really okay with me, any more. I have these five adorable children, and they’re growing up faster than I can believe. There a million things that I need to do for my family, and it’s hard work. But, the hardest thing for me to do, of all the things on my list, is to just stop. To just be. To be with them, to play with them, to read to them, talk to them, teach them, and adore them adds more to their life than a clean home, folded laundry, their sports activities, and a house with no spiders, ever will. The hardest thing just happens to be the most important thing.
I made a plan. I am slowing down. I am making time. I’m going against everything that comes natural to me, and it’s tricky. But, the thing is…it’s getting easier, I feel so much less guilt, and I’ve been having some really special moments with my children. I’m not offering this as a suggestion, just telling you what I’ve been doing…but, I started homeschooling a couple years ago. I needed to do something drastic that would force me to give that quality (and quantity) time to my kids. And, it has literally been such a blessing to our family. I’ve also been taking the kids on individual dates. A couple weeks ago, my son and I went to Barnes and Noble to read books and to eat at Chick-fil-A. The whole time eating, we took turns asking each other ‘deep questions’ like, “If you were stranded on a deserted island and had to eat any meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?” My favorite question was when I asked him, “When you are a parent, what things do you want to do differently than I do.” He thought, and he thought, and he honestly said, “I really can’t think of anything.” I was like, “Ahh, babe. You’re my favorite kid.” I’m sure he’ll come up with some gripes as he ages, but the moment together was really special. I really look forward to taking all of my kids out on their dates. It’s way more fun than doing dishes! I’ve been taking them on walks and to the park. We’ve been doing field trips, picnics, and I’m hoping to try letterboxing as soon as it warms up. I’ve been making brownies and popcorn and watching movies. Sometimes I feel like I’m being tortured inside, cause I just want to get some things done, but I’m fighting. I love my kids too much, and really…most of the time, I’m actually having fun. Maybe I’m not such a poopie-head after all! Instead of adding more activities, more meetings, more appointments, and more chores, I’m adding more love.
I’m adding more mom. I hope they’re cool with that.
And, I hope that I can always be an example to them of finding the balance between working hard and enjoying the most important things in life…it’s something that will require my endless effort.
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