Many years ago I met a woman whom I decided had the most unimaginative life possible.
She had a large family, and the last handful of her kids at home were all in school and old enough to fend for themselves. Despite what seemed like an abundance of free time, she didn’t work outside the home, never volunteered at the schools, was not involved in the community. What on earth did she do? I thought to myself.
If I were her, I’d take classes or read to elementary kids or work a shift making some extra money. Something, for goodness sake!
As our kids became friends and I got to know her better, I discovered how shallow and misguided my original judgements were.
The truth is, she was a thoughtful, dependable friend to those close to her. She performed acts of charity quietly, so I only knew about them in roundabout ways, but it seemed like wherever there was a need for a steady hand and warm heart, she was there.
The atmosphere in her home also testified to her concern – there was always a feeling of stability, of care, of calm. The “free” time I assumed she wasted was actually spent in managing the affairs of her family and home, and you could tell her family was strong and secure because of it.
I’ve been a wife for 16 years and a mother for 15, and I have yet to establish that kind of security in my home. Instead, there always seems to be a frazzled, kinetic energy, and I think it’s because for these many years, I’ve been filling my life with pursuits OUTSIDE the role of either wife or mother.
Some of my endeavors have been well worth the time – like finally finishing my Bachelor’s degree and working when I needed to help supplement our income. But sometimes, I’m finally realizing, I fill my time with outside activities and responsibilities because I mistakenly believe that being a wife and mother isn’t enough. That I need to be needed somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly believe that I need enrichment and service opportunities outside of my family. But is that why I fill my “stay-at-home” schedule with things that perpetually keep me outside of the home? The Boosters, the PTA, Scouts, volunteering, church, carpool, whatever. Am I seeking enrichment, or am I seeking validation? Am I hoping to serve, or hoping to show that I can do it all?
At the Type A Mom Conference, I listened to a great panel discussion on balance. The incredibly wise Robin from Pensieve shared her favorite quotes on priorities, most of which summarized the idea that our actions reveal our priorities. It made me wonder: is it really my priority to be running from meeting to workroom to supply store to front desk? Or is it my priority to follow the example of the woman I knew and make my house a home and my friends my primary concern?
I decided that if my actions were out of line with my priorities, something needed to change. Last week I resigned the two hefty PTA posts I held at the elementary school. I was nervous to do so, sensitive to any judgement I felt might come from others who would say, “But she’s a stay-at-home mom, she’s got time to do it!” Which is exactly what I would have said, too. But I’m learning.
I’m continuing to look at ways I can reduce my obligations outside my home. This has even extended to re-focusing my online priorities and eliminating ways I am unnecessarily drawn away from what I truly care about in this season of my life – my friends, my home, and my family.
IT IS ENOUGH for me to be a stay-at-home wife and mother. I’ve got nothing left to prove. Yes, I can do it all – I can keep a crazy schedule, operate on little sleep, keeping 10 plates spinning at once. Who cares. What I really want is to have the time and focus and ability to create a home that invites the Spirit, allows my family to feel at peace, brings us closer together, and a lifestyle that gives me the freedom to serve others in the ways they need it and in the way only I can.
What a profound, liberating place to be. It’s only taken me 16 years to get there…but I’m getting there.
“This post included in Real Life’s Your Life Your Blog“