Finding My Place Mid-Season

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

  • What a beautiful post.

    I, too, needed to resign from a position that I loved just a week ago. It was hard. It hurt. But right now my time and energy needs to be turned to keeping Parker alive, and my family going.

    Having a medically fragile child can either make your family stronger, or slowly rip it apart.

    I choose a stronger family.

    Tammy and Parker
    http://www.prayingforparker.com
    @ParkerMama on Twitter

  • LCM

    It drives me nuts when my sisters ask me what I am going to do with myself. I already have a Bachelor’s and I also spent 2 years devoting all of my time to taking care of my very ill child. I took last year off! But this year, I have found things to make me a better person and let me help the girls at school through my own way. I volunteer at Buttercup’s library during the time her class is there. I read to Fiona’s class every Wednesday. But I am excited when the girls get home and spend several hours at night helping them with their school work (gotta love Texas). I have also started to go to the temple on a regular basis, something I gave up while I had small children and something that will only help my family.
    Good for you! Do what you and your family need. I always tell people that no one will ever put up a plaque that says, LCM filed here for 20 years. But my girls and their families will be what I have to show for my time here.

  • This post really speaks to me. I am a frenetic energy type of person; it seems to come naturally to me and *for the most part* it works for me. But I can sense this fall that I’m trying to cram too much into too little time. We just spent the weekend with my MIL and she remarked that I seem really tired (and what she left unsaid is that the kids were bickering and picking at each other all weekend and our family unit is rather in disarray). It made me really re-evaluate how I’m spending my time (too much Twitter, ahem) and pledge to myself that I’m going to get us back in a nice, calm groove. And the only way I can do that is by setting a good example as the heart and soul of the home. I don’t think I’ll be giving up all my activities any time soon (that wouldn’t suit me, either) but this is a nice reminder that I could stand to cut back.

  • And I strive to be, just like you! Awesome post, my friend!

  • What a beautiful, enlightened post. Your family is very lucky. -Christine

  • Heather

    Love this post. You have to do what’s right for your family. Thanks for sharing & inspiring other moms.

  • This is a fantastic post, and one which I imagine rings true for many moms. My “nervous breakdown” over the summer and the realization that I was giving too much of myself to others and not my own family was the slap in the face I needed. I’m not one who can keep too many balls in the air, and I start to do a mediocre job of things when I don’t have my priorities in line. I probably inadvertently closed a lot of doors when I decided to change the course of Root & Sprout, but my family always comes first.

    Thanks!

  • I love this, Stacey! This year, I have given up a couple of things that I knew I wasn’t called to, and were making me really stressed! They weren’t bad things, but were just taking up space for what God really wanted of me- to nurture my family.

  • great post, and I am glad to hear the truth in your voice about your perception changing and your view of yourself, and your search for balance. Robin’s words continue to rattle around in my brain about balance!

  • Melissa

    Thank you! I have been feeling stretched a little to far this past month. I needed the reminder that it is okay to say no sometimes, and that I need to work on me feeling okay about not being able to do it all. I struggle with guilt!