Lately, I’ve been feeling totally bombarded by the responsibilities of being a parent. It’s not been the British weather, or the cold, or even the rain that’s been a culture shock since returning to Blighty from Oz. No, it’s been the return to the banal Never Ending to do list. Ever been there? Yep, thought so.You know, the times when everywhere you look in the house seems to have stuff that needs sorting/ painting/ clearing away/ donating/ selling. When there never seems to be time to just read a book in the evening or watch TV for want of the urgent must-dos that really can’t be left till another day. The endless stream of school letters, requests for help with this cake sale or that Brownie event, emails, organizing PTA events, phone calls to plumbers and hairdressers, letters from the eye clinic, or tax man chasing you for money they overpaid you which turns out you hadn’t kinda stuff. And I haven’t even got started on the far greater emotional and spiritual responsibilities of parenthood.
I start to feel like life will always be one long list of never ending to dos. Boring, banal chores that rob me of my creativity and spark. Aaaggh.
In short, I feel like Alice in Wonderland when she shrinks and everything becomes enormous. And that darned Cheshire Cat keeps grinning at me.
I don’t have a child with special needs, and I don’t even work! How on earth do the rest of you do it???!!
Ok it doesn’t help that we’ve recently had a small extension; that and I’ve married a man who sees through mess like its glass (oh, for the gift), and believes things can always be done another day whilst I conversely love things to be clear and uncluttered and to get on with things (oh joy); that we both used to work from home and so have the legacy of that still sitting on the shelves in my son’s room… or that I have too many interests and say yes to one to many things. Hmmm.
But what’s the alternative – become a bored-stiff house wife? Er, no.
Trouble is, the list is never going to get much shorter and in fact, reliable sources tell me that parenting is going to get more complex and taxing as our kids metamorphose into teenagers 🙂
Oh, heck, so we’re all doomed? No, the answer has got to be in my attitude and in my boundaries.
The thing is, my boundaries have been slipping, and my attitude to handling life as it is, rather than it ought to be, has gone a similar downward direction in recent weeks.
I’m finding that I’m not saying goodbye to my laptop or my to do list till way too late in the evening for me. I simply want to get things done. So, this week I’ve actually started to put an alarm in my phone that tells me to STOP, shut that laptop lid, shut your brain down and go and unwind before bed. You see, my brain is like an unruly bouncing ball that needs to be stopped playing with at least an hour before bed, or it keeps me awake. Pesky thing.
I’ve also been saying ‘yes’ to too many things, all small commitments, but once added up, look like a veritable tower of terribly-worthy-and-much-needed jobs, but shouldn’t all be on my plate. Time to rethink.
And as for my attitude… Why, oh why, you’re wondering, are you struggling with a negative attitude after a fantastic 4 week break in gorgeous sunny Australia? You’re probably reaching for an egg to throw my way as you read this…
Well, it’s got something to do with getting virtually no time on my own whilst away and, although I’m a garrulous socialite, you may be surprised to know that I really do need time alone to recharge. And even those with the easiest family dynamics will know they go crazy if they get no time apart 🙂
But there’s another reason. Whilst I was away I got no time just to sit and be with God. You see, when I don’t my thinking becomes more focused on self, on problems, on things that need to be done or fixed. My tendency to negativity and worry rears its ugly head. Stress, that old arch enemy, creeps up on me and takes up residence again on my shoulders.
But when I stop, when I create time to draw near to the One who I call Father, my perspective re-adjusts and I dissolve.
I dissolve into His presence. A place of rest. Of being, not doing.
He says Daughter. One simple word. And that’s it. I’m reminded of his incredible goodness and tenderness. Love that says That washing can wait, That list will never end, so don’t try and finish it before getting to me.
I’m overwhelmed, but this time, with the goodness of a God who loves me in far deeper ways than I can comprehend.
I’m reminded that my purpose in life is so much more than providing for my children or husband, more than ensuring their comfort and happiness (which is a crazy goal in the first place). That I am a daughter of the living God whose purpose is beyond all I can see or imagine.
In the wake of that moment, my list seems to be less urgent, less pressing and somehow lighter. There’s still a mountain to do, but being in God’s presence has a way of putting a filter on my perspective: some things fall off that list, whilst the rest I approach with a lighter and more thankful heart.
Keeping the boundaries around my ‘rest’ time with God is, surely, the most precious.
Saying no to the tyranny of the urgent and yes to matters of the heart are going to be top challenges for 2013.