How many of you can relate to this scenario: I’m sitting in bed with my laptop at the end of an exhausting day; which, among other things, happened to entail a unexpected trip to the ER with my 2-year-old (he’s recovering fine now). Of course, I had planned to write this article earlier. My priorities and commitments were shuffled so many times this week that here I am cranking it out past midnight. Not only that, I will be awoken to nurse a baby at least once in the night before gathering all three of my children age 4 and under by 7:30 and heading out the door by 8:30 for an early-morning event.
My guess: almost all of you mamas!
I’m postponing my original topic to share how I have been encouraged this week as I reflect on the commitments I make and my unending to-do list.
For starters, I am rethinking my traditional Type-A approach to my life as mama, wife, homemaker, photographer, writer etc. I am working on truly prioritizing. Anyone else? Surely I am not alone!
Here are a few speed bumps of inspiration that have given me pause this week:
#1 I shared this on my personal blog this week, but David Allen’s fantastic quote sums up many of our lives. Yes we CAN do anything, but not everything. Sounds simple. But it can be so difficult to eliminate the “everythings” to make room for the important anythings. Oh, and it also involves saying “no” – to others and to ourselves. What’s *really* important and what are we working toward? We need to figure that out first and then we can prune the list.
#2 Nesting Place had an amazing post about perspective when it comes to housekeeping:
According to suburban queen and humorist Erma Bronbeck, “Housework, if you do it right, will kill you. No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.” There is truth in there. And, although I don’t always make our beds everyday, I am guilty of this offense — and countless others. Striving for perfection in lieu of completely acceptable. The article followed with this book recommendation: A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life: How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. I’m adding it to my wish list pronto.
#3 This PDF excerpt from one of my favorite author Shawna Niequist’s new book Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change Grace and Learning the hard Way. The chapter is entitled “Things I Don’t Do.” I can’t wait to get a copy of this — one of may all-time favorite reads is her previous book Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life.
Want relatable? Try this on for size:
“I’m a list-keeper. I always, always have a to-do list, and it ranges from the mundane: go to the dry cleaner, go to the post office, buy batteries; to the far-reaching: stop eating Henry’s leftover Dino Bites, get over yourself, forgive nasty reviewer, wear more jewelry. At one point, I kept adding to the list, more and more items, more and more sweeping in their scope, until I added this line: DO EVERYTHING BETTER.
It was, at the time, a pretty appropriate way to capture how I felt about my life and myself fairly often. It also explains why I tended to get so tired I’d cry without knowing why, why my life sometimes felt like I was running on a hamster wheel, and why I searched the faces of calmer, more grounded women for a secret they all knew that I didn’t.”
By now, I’m already wishing I could meet her over a frappucino. She had lunch with a friend who seemed to be “doing it all” and with grace and contentment. The advice?
“…it’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard, she said, is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about. Her words from that day have been rattling around inside me for years now, twisting around, whispering, taking shape.”
Once again, I’m hooked. I’m singing Hallelujah from the rooftops. She goes on to share how she got there and how she made a list of the things she does, as WELL as a list of things she does not do. The conclusion:
“The grandest seduction of all is the myth that DOING EVERYTHING BETTER gets us where we want to be. It gets us somewhere, certainly, but not anywhere worth being.”
The chapter is an incredible read. And if you’ve come this far, I am certain you can relate–at least on occasion. So tomorrow (I’m wiped tonight), I’ll be starting a list of things I do not do. It’s going to be difficult if I do it authentically. But I’m ready. And 7:30 comes quickly. Are you with me?
Co-editor Stephanie Beaty is a blessed mama of three children and military spouse. After a 10-year career as a professional writer/PR pro she began Lifeography, a modern child + family portrait studio where she focuses on capturing relationships and connections. Although her growing family currently resides in Virginia Beach, Va., home is wherever the Navy sends them. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.