Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fun : Mom {Antonym or Synonym?}

I promise not to whine all summer.  I have rebelled and broken all my summer rules. It started with Julia’s desire for pointe shoes and my thoughts of how great her freestyle and breast strokes have been since she was 5.  She found out that if she took the “ballet intensive” in June {5 mornings a week for 3 hours for 3 weeks} that she would go “en pointe” ~ you know, learn to dance on her tippy toes.  And you did read that right.  5 mornings, 3 hours, 3 weeks.  She would also get to try out flamenco dancing which, to her, it’s all about loud “cloppy shoes”, as she used to call them, and swishing a long skirt  around with a certain Spanish attitude.  And then I said yes to B regarding swim team, mostly because of his enthusiasm for “ribbons and medals and trophies, Mom!!”  but I knew if he did it, she would and I think the girl has potential.  I also said yes to Music Theory Camp as requested by B and you guessed it.  He heard rumors of ribbons and medals.  And what mom can say no to Theory Camp?  The deal was sealed.

When I made these decisions, I must have been sitting on the couch in a clean home with a delicious hot cup of coffee overflowing with whipped cream, flipping through a Southern Living, feeling the breeze from the ceiling fan just slightly through the light blanket over my legs and feet which were curled up under me while I smelled dinner simmering in the crock pot.  And my kids were in the next room voraciously reading classic literature just because they wanted to.  And Gabe had miraculously stopped shedding despite the June heat.  In that moment, I might would have said yes to playing putt putt everyday.

I told a friend on the eve of the flurry of activities that I thought I had lost my mind.  Up until this summer, we basically swam {for leisure} and attended VBSs.  So Monday, after burning a tank of gas between the swim clinic on I-20 and the ballet studio off I-30, multiple times within a hour and again on Wednesday, adding my stuff for work in the passenger seat, their lunches, piano books, house key and directions for the sitter to the bottom of the pool bag, but forgetting a change of shorts for B realizing the drama ahead when he realized he’d have to go to piano practice in his Speedo, I heard a familiar question ringing in my ears {but only after my car was empty}....one Jeff asked me several months ago,

“Are you having fun being a Mom?”

By the second day of the first week of summer, I had decided I had bitten off more than I could chew............well, more than I could chew in a Southern ladylike manner.  Oh, I could chew it but Emily Post wouldn’t have approved and I was NOT having fun.  

When he asked me then, I didn’t have a quick answer and, at the moment, it certainly could not be answered with a yes or a no. Can my answer depend on the day?  Is that okay? Or should fun be my “overflow” everyday?  I think some of us moms on a LOT of days forget the word fun altogether and the days string together and then we get faced with the question, “Are you having fun?”  What’s fun about performing one task after another, checking off that perpetual, ever-changing mental to do list?  I displace the potential for fun with rush, with meeting a goal, with taking their behavior personally, with my own selfishness. My unwillingness.  Just because “fun” doesn’t fit into my day or, more likely, into my mood.

That’s a problem.

This isn’t the first time I have struggled through these thoughts but it is the first time I’ve written them down.  And I find it embarrassing.  I think about this year ‘round but here, at the beginning of summer, typically, a free-er time for all of us, I look at the kaleidoscopic  color-coded calendar wondering, did I make a mistake?  Have I left wiggle room for fun?  Not only on my calendar, but in my thoughts?  Will I let it be an option in the moments that make up the day?   Or will I just plow through, getting everyone to where they need to be with what they need with no thought of “fun”?  Is that so hard?  I struggle on the inside.  I plow on the outside.

Don’t you just love it when someone puts words to your life when you didn’t even know words could wrap around the way you were feeling?  I have a “reading list” on the side bar of my computer that is SCREENS long that I can scroll down for days.  My intentions are good because I love to read and I love to learn.  However, time is an issue.  I prefer to sleep at night.  Every now and then, someone’s words appear in front of me and I MUST read them.  Here is the post by Gloria Furman that put words to the battle I fought last week in my head.  And here are parts of it.

“SAHMs [stay at home moms] are resourceful, creative problem-solvers. We have the capacity to dominate over even the most harrowing multitasking nightmare. When a SAHM’s hope is in the God who raises the dead then she smiles at the future. She knows her Redeemer lives and she is working joyfully for his glory even in the midst of outer chaos.

The harrowing, inner chaos in the soul of a SAHM can drive a woman to do things she never wanted to do. A woman driven by inner chaos will do things like give her children the silent treatment, manipulate her friends, get an ulcer over the budget, or belittle her husband’s hard work.  
The manageable outer chaos is aggravated by the inner chaos in our soul. Outer chaos all of a sudden becomes unmanageable. Competent, confident homemakers lose their nerves of steel. Even though it’s “just” a hiccup in the schedule, or a setback with a child’s discipline, or a burned piece of garlic bread, it becomes so much bigger in our hearts.

Then the elusive “peace like a river” is more like a category five hurricane of anxiety, bitterness, discouragement, or discontent.”

Outer chaos.  Inner chaos.  They feed off each other squeezing out any room for fun.  Obviously, what’s going on in my spirit is the most important part of me.  If I am healthy, settled, at peace in my inner being {for me ~ a result of being in His Word, enjoying and obeying Him, having time for reflection}, I am empowered by His Spirit to walk through what’s going on around me~ sometimes outer chaos.   If those critical puzzle pieces are missing, I’m toast.  I can fake it for a time but eventually the wheels come off and blindside my family first.  Big sigh.  Hello, outer chaos plus inner chaos.  You are not welcome here.  You are no fun.  You make me think and do crazy things.  You make me think there is enough Golden Retriever hair around to stuff all the pillows in my house when really it would only fill up my dustpan.  You make B’s 5th question seem like the 5000th.  You make Julia’s tendency to leave shoes in every room in the house seem like a character issue.  You make me think when Jeff asks, “You okay?” that he thinks I need to be admitted somewhere or something.  Sirens begin to go off in my head that remind me that I need to take action however I must and take care of the inner chaos I am feeling.  Nothing is more important because it is affecting the most valuable part of my life ~ my family and how I am expressing God’s character to them.  “Chaotic” is not part of Him.  Enjoying my family is.

So, practically, what do I do?  First, I tell Jeff.  He knows my personality, my tendencies, my need for pockets of solitude.  He’s kind and he helps me.  I can’t expect him to pitch in if he has no idea how I am feeling or what is pressing on me.  Second, I make arrangements to take care of how I am feeling.  If I can’t have extended time, I set my alarm to get up earlier than usual so I can have the peace of a quiet house a little longer.  I have even stayed up later for that very reason.  In the afternoon, I have put in a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical for the kids-- because they are classic but mostly because each one is longer than a typical movie.  Ha!  As Moms, we can get very creative on getting a little time.  We find time for SO much in our schedule.  Getting what we need to feed our spirit should be every bit as important as that haircut or that doctor’s appointment.  Of course, right?  But why is it a no-brainer to get a sitter for a doctor’s appointment but embarrassing to get a sitter in order to re-energize ourselves for this role God’s entrusted to us?

The practical makes way for the spiritual. It makes a way to be a better mom. One with some room for fun.  Mrs. Furman reminds us to, “Glory in the love that covers a multitude of sins and redeems all of our inner chaos.”  Sitting in the grace of His Presence has a beautiful way of taming the inner chaos and when He’s done, the outer chaos looks like a simple math fact and not an algorithm.   A 5th question and not a 5000th.  A 10 year old tendency and not a character issue.  A dustpan of dog hair and not a mattress full.  Because of that,  I can have a lot of fun.

Postscript--- see this link here and the perspective it brings to this.  It’s really all that needs to be said.


Emily said...

Love hearing your heart in this. And the writing! So descriptive and fun.

Sandra K. (Hooks) Wade said...

Sounds like you've been reading my mail. Thanks for sharing the practical solution.

Wendy Britt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

I have done the same thing. Chosen the movie by it's length. You will watch Cars because it's a FULL two hours.

I have lost it twice in the last 3 days and this was much needed perspective. I keep reminding myself that this season is what he has for me for some particular reason. Now if I can only stop fighting it and embrace what He has for me.