At the beginning of August, my newly three-year-old son Beau was hospitalized for five nights as he fought off a respiratory virus. He was on oxygen for four straight days and received breathing treatments every couple hours throughout the day and night as his body worked hard to move air in and out of his lungs. Though Beau has a myriad of health issues, this was his first overnight hospitalization. I surprised myself by holding it all together, staying strong (or maybe just busy) by focusing on his needs and meeting with several doctors each day. Though I held up alright during his stay, everything came to a head soon after we got home.
The stress and worries and refereeing and to-dos of the past couple months have slowly accumulated to the point that my cup is overflowing, brimming with impatience, weariness, frustration and feelings of inadequacy. It seems like I get to this point once or twice a year, and though you’d think I could slow things down before the deluge, it never works out that way.
I look around me and I see the aftermath of a flash flood–a byproduct of my “try to do all the things” approach. I see increased behavior issues in my children. I see a rise in tantrums and aggression. I see increased sensitivity and overblown emotions. I see my kids pushing the limits farther than they knew they could.
And then it dawns on me. What I see is my children screaming out for me–for my attention, my love, my grace. And just typing out that revelation brings tears to my eyes, because how could I have missed that when I am with them all day long?
How many days have I raced through the morning, trying to keep my kids entertained and active to ensure simultaneous naps, which gives me time to “do all the things.” A couple months ago, these things included trying to selling Rodan + Fields. A couple weeks ago, these things included writing articles for an RV-related company. A couple days ago, these things included filling out 20+ page medical forms to get my son into one of the best children’s hospitals in the country.
As my cup was beginning to fill quicker and quicker, I noticed that I would get upset when nap times didn’t coincide and I didn’t have time to do all the things. My frustration mounted while my patience with my kids plummeted. I wondered, “How would I ever be successful selling skincare?” or “When will I ever have time to finish this article?”
But goodness gracious does God have a way of realigning priorities. For me, He’s shifting it back on simply taking care of my family. Just last week, I learned that the company for which I was writing had its freelance budget cut for the next few months, meaning no more article submissions. And as much as I enjoy writing, it was still one more deadline that I had to meet despite the fact that my kids are blind to deadlines. And though I had debated stopping skincare sales for a couple months, this freelance cut was a sign that I needed to cut out this additional obligation.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe that us moms need some quiet time throughout the day to recharge so we can be the best version of our unperfect selves. But for me, I need downtime that doesn’t create more pressure or stress or defeat the purpose of recharging. I need downtime that encourages personal expression and growth.
As a mom and wife, there will always be a rolling list of things that have to get done–the cleaning, the cooking, the laundry, the scheduling, the chauffeuring, the appointments, the personal assistant tasks for my husband’s business, etc.
But there are other undertakings in which I can be choosy about my approach–the side gigs, the commitments, the activities, the educating, the nurturing, the disciplining, the child rearing. Oh, the child rearing.
I am learning there is freedom in doing less so that I can do more better. There is freedom in choosing them over me. There is freedom in surrender. There is freedom in relinquishing all the things.
No one ever said motherhood is easy. It is undoubtedly the hardest thing I will ever do. And three years into this stay-at-home-mom gig, it’s still hard to transition out of the working world mindset. Three years in, and I am still struggling with my own identity, one that currently stops at wife and mom. At times, I ask myself, “But can’t I do more, can’t I be more, don’t I have other talents I could be using?” Yes, yes and yes. Even though I would love to add freelancer, entrepreneur, legit blogger, community volunteer and more to my list of personal attributes, at this stage of life, my calling is simply wife and mom.