We work from sun-up until the kids go to bed and then we collapse. There isn’t any margin. At least not any where I’m not so tired that I can’t walk in a straight line.
We’re aware this is not a good thing. I’ll be scaling back my working hours soon, but in the meantime, a girl’s gotta keep pedaling. My inner guilty drama queen wrestles with this scaling back so we can breathe bit. Is it ok to not work as much so I have time to do a few extras – things that make me a better person, or should I keep my nose to the grindstone because, hey, we have a lot of people to feed?
I read Ann Voskamp’s article recently about making space for the life you want. I read it to Andrew and pondered the quote, “Make your space and play anyway.”
Is it even ok to play? Raising kids is serious business. Balancing the budget is important work. Educating and discipling these people is my contribution to society and the future. So is it ok to make a little space for Mama to write a few sentences and tell a few stories because it feels like what I’m made to do?
I wasn’t so sure. I wondered about cultivating a hobby (writing) that insulated me from my people. I’ve got seven people to build relationships with. (Eight, counting Andrew, which I do.) Why couldn’t I pick something crafty that would let me talk and giggle with my girls, or athletic that I could include my fellas? No, I had to fall in love with sitting quietly and stringing words together.
And my sweet husband, in his wisdom, said to me – “It’s ok to model doing the thing you love. Let them see you play.”
He’s right. We show our children how to work hard, how to laugh while you work, how to prioritize what matters, but do we show them how to play? Do we show them how to be creative humans, crafted in God’s image, to live out the gifts and passions He’s given us?
I still scuffed my toe and pouted. “But writing is so insular!”
“So tell them what you’re doing. Have you told them what you’re writing? If they want to be with you, they’ll hunt down their pens and draw or write beside you.”
And, son of a gun, that’s what happened. Rather than crawling into my office hole and hiding out when I finally gave myself a chance to work on my own writing, I told the kids what I was doing and sat right there on the couch. I used my headphones for awhile (They were playing Wii. I could have announced I was going to tap dance on the moon and they wouldn’t have blinked.) Later, though, Willa wandered over and said, “Mommy, what can I do with you?”
I looked to Andrew for help. Mommy-guilt wanted to drop everything and reach for a book to read to her. He smiled, “You promised yourself another 15 minutes. See if she wants to join you.”
So I said, “Mommy is working on a story. Go grab your paper and markers and you can draw what I’m writing.”
I told her a little piece of the story I’d written that day and she drew it out in stick figures. I searched through my descriptions to help her add details to her drawing. And I asked her what she thought should happen next. Pretty soon, Mira joined us.
Admittedly, I didn’t get much writing done in that fifteen minutes, maybe another sentence or two. But it felt ok. We sat and created together and I didn’t feel guilty. Once I shut my laptop, I did reach for a book so we could cuddle, but it wasn’t long before she was off and running to another activity. I’d filled her love tank by just including her in my own play time.
I don’t have some big point or epiphany here. I’m still working through all of this in my brain. But I wanted to put it out there in case you’re feeling the way I feel: like there aren’t enough hours in the day and I have this thing I want to do and I don’t know if I should just put it off until, Lord willing, I make it to the nursing home or if I should work at it in the mess and chaos and beauty that is now.
Voskamp says, “The space you make that is unconventional can make you a force that is unstoppable.” In other words, making time to do the things we love, even when it’s hard, makes us better at them than if we had all the time in the world to devote to them.
I don’t know if that’s true yet. But I think, with the help of my kids and Crayola markers, I’d like to find out.