If I stayed inside the house one more minute, I might seriously explode. Every time I turned around, a new mess called out to me. Every room I entered reminded me of something left undone. The soles of my feet were coated in crumbs from a floor in desperate need of attention.
Room to room I bit my tongue from lashing out. It was safer to keep my mouth closed because the anxiety in my heart threatened to spew on the ones I loved. No one tried to approach me. In fact, it seemed everyone in my home wanted to avoid me. The look on my face told them I was not happy with the state of the house, the noise level, the chaos. And when mama’s not happy, well….. it just gets ugly.
Running through my head were all the things I needed to do, all the people needing something from me, all the things I was supposed to have done last week, all the thoughts of what people must think, all the ways I’m failing, all the ways I can try to keep up. A serious boxing match was going on inside my head. I had to step out of the ring. I needed fresh air.
Grabbing a book and a blanket, I headed to the backyard. I collapsed on my back and stared at the sky for a few minutes. The clouds moved in a hypnotizing motion as I breathed deep of the breeze. Everything that seemed so pressing only moments before seemed to fade away. Moving away with the clouds.
My heart rate slowed, my breathing slowed. All the anxiety that held my shoulders so tightly began to dissipate. I prayed. I thanked. I asked.
I tried not to stress about what the kids were doing inside the house. I tried not to think of what I would walk into when I reentered the walls of our home.
The screen door slammed, the grass crunched under his feet as he made his way to my blanket. His 10-year-old body cast a shadow over my face as he stood over me, allowing me to open my eyes to see him.
“Hi, mom, can I read with you?”
“I’d love that.”
We sat and read. We only had about 15 minutes, but it was glorious. It was all I needed to regain my composure and be the mom I wanted to be.
My stillness drew my boy back to me. My stillness draws me closer to my Father.
My anxiety, the pressure I put on myself, pushed my kids away from me. When I stopped, when I walked away, when I slowed down, they drew back to me.
My kids don’t want a spotless house. They want an available mom. My kids don’t want a completed task list. They want to complete a board game. My kids don’t want a perfectly scheduled week. They want a spontaneous tickling match.
When my kids are grown, I don’t want them to remember me being grumpy because I was trying to achieve the unachievable. Or impress the unimpressible.
The reality is the life of a mom is hard. What is harder is the pressure we moms put on ourselves. The expectations we place on us are unachievable. The guilt of what we aren’t, the guilt of what we can’t do, the guilt of what we should’ve done only increases the fight to do more, try harder. It’s an endless, vicious cycle.
The only way to break the cycle is to pull out completely. Escape to fresh air to clear the head. To see the beauty right here.
You remember I said I have a little rebel that lives inside of me? The rebel is rearing its head again.
I need more stillness. I need more slow. My family needs me to be still more than they need me to be supermom. My family needs me to slow down more than they need me to set records for accomplishing more in a day than humanly possible.
Yesterday was mine and Steve’s 14 year anniversary. As he thought what I would like most for our anniversary, he decided it was time with him and time with God. At 5 am he woke with me, and we headed to the coffee maker. Coffee and Bibles we sat together and prayed for our marriage. Steve had done his homework and came prepared with a list of verses on marriage. We read them to each other.
That started my day slow. And still. The rest of the day I focused on doing what was necessary but allowing room for spontaneous. And when I tucked the boys into bed, I sat on the couch. This is unheard of in my house because I don’t watch tv. Ever. But the rebel in me decided I needed a break.
I did something radical. I watched a movie. (Mom’s Night Out…..highly recommend). This after a chain reaction of simple decisions through the day that turned out to be exactly what I needed. And it turned out to be one of the best days I can remember in the longest time. A lot of letting go. A lot of lowering the bar of my own expectations.
For the most part, I live in a constant state of doing. If I have free time, I will do something productive. Every minute of every day is filled with something. In the course of a day, I rarely, rarely, rarely do something just for fun. I rarely do something that has no purpose. Everything I do has a purpose and accomplishes something. And I’m tired. So I’m ushering in more stillness.
Life as a mom can look crazy ugly and crazy beautiful at the exact same moment. Being a mom is a high calling. High callings come at a high price.
When I stop doing, I start seeing. The doing will always be available. The seeing changes. I don’t want to miss seeing what is here to see right this very moment.
I want to be the wife of my husband’s dreams. I want to be the mom of my boys’ dreams. And what they want more than a beautiful home, gourmet meals, perfectly planned outings, and accomplished looking days is simply me. Doing less and being more.
Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.
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