Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday ruminations

walking in the woods yesterday
I've been struggling lately with feeling cumbered by too many cares--a little Martha-esque.  I wonder if she worried--while she was cooking and cleaning and bustling around preparing things--that really she should be right where Mary was, seated at the feet of Christ.  I wonder if she debated whether it was more important for her to go learn from the Master, or to prepare for all the guests in the house.  I wonder if she worried that no one else would do it, and that things needed to be done, and I wonder if she was a little heartsick thinking about what she was missing.  Or if she was so stressed that it didn't even cross her mind, and if the Savior's gentle rebuke was a total shock to her, because she thought she was really making a good choice.

I worry a lot about whether I am choosing the better part.  There are so many things in my life that--in my mind--need to be done in order for our life to function smoothly.  But there are so many things that I want to be doing that it seems we just don't have time to do.  I'm not sure what to cut out.  I think I need to pray for more discernment and fortitude.

This week is going to be hard.  In the four days from Monday-Thursday, I have eleven appointments.  Eleven. All of them are vital and none are reschedulable.  That's not counting the nights that Neil is gone, or driving Abigail to school and picking her up.  Or the thirty miles I need to run this week.

Yesterday in church we talked about visiting teaching.  Our wonderful Relief Society presidency outlined a very specific set of goals and standards that they would like us to meet over the next six weeks.  And I admit, I sat there trying not to cry.  Not because I was so touched by their message, although I was--I really believe that visiting teaching is a wonderful program.  But I felt completely overwhelmed, because I know that visiting teaching is so important, and it has made such a difference in my life when I have had really wonderful visiting teachers who were attuned to my needs.  But I don't know how I can find the time to be that kind of wonderful visiting teacher for four different women and still meet the needs of my own family.  I have always been really diligent about at least visiting my sisters every month, but while I bring meals and babysit, it's more because I see a need than because I am doing it regularly as a matter of course.  I've just felt really despairing about that over the last day or so, because I know how much I would love someone to somehow magically make things easier for me, and I know that my visiting teaching sisters feel exactly the same way.  Because we all do. 

Lately I have been wishing that I had more time with my children to just be with them.  That I didn't have to hurry them through lunch so we were on time to drive the carpool.  That I had more time to read stories before somebody showed up at the door.  That I didn't have to worry about laundry or giving Isaac his breathing treatments or washing dishes.  I just want to be with them.  And I worry that I'm on the wrong side of that teeter-totter of caring for their physical needs while providing for their emotional needs.

Like I said before, I need to pray for more discernment.  One thing that I have found very comforting over the last five years or so is realizing that if I had everything figured out, there would be no purpose in living on Earth.  Because this mortal life really is a time for us to be tried and tested and to figure things out on our own and to grow stronger because of those experiences.  This is what I keep telling myself, because it seems like I'm always confused and pulled in a dozen different directions, and endlessly worrying about whether I am doing the right thing as a mother and a wife and a person.  If I knew what I was doing, then what would be the point?  Right?  I'm grateful for the chance that I do have to make these decisions and have these worries.  I'm grateful for my ability to choose my own path.


Sarah Harward said...

Let me watch some of your kiddo's this week while you're running yourself ragged at all those appointments! Even though you'll still be running ragged, it's easier to do with only one kid than three!!

One thing I found is that when I start feeling 'guilty' about things pertaining to my kids, it's the Spirit nudging me towards what is really important and what I need to focus on. If my dishes don't get washed until the next day after they're in bed, big deal. Yeah, it drives me a bit crazy to have the mess there, but in the long run, they're not going to remember there were dishes in the sink for one day. So then I need to pray for patience in letting those other things go, so I can reevaluate my life. Certainly there are things that we can't 'let go' (11 appointments in four days! HOLY COW!! That would drive the saintliest woman to the the devil!) but when we know those 'busy' times are upon us, then is the time to let go of the non-essential things. Of course, this is just my opinion, and heaven knows I have just as much experience in all of this as you do, so who's to say which is the best course of action. But know that I'm pretty sure all mom's feel this way at some point or another, and that's why we need to remember and relish in the 'easy' moments of mothering (when everyone is healthy, the weather is nice and we can lazily play all afternoon, when husbands are home from work for vacation and we can shut ourselves in the house all day) even if it's just through our memories, that way we don't get too overwhelmed but remember that those days will come again, we just need to wait out the storm. And it seems to me like you do a SUPERB job juggling it all!

Meghan said...

I really enjoy doing "Tree" in yoga. I'm pretty good at it, and it gives me a feeling of accomplishment (even though I'm not supposed to feel that way in yoga--but I do feel very in tune with my body).
The thing is, though I'm staying upright on one leg, and the other is where it belongs on my upper thigh, and my hands are staying in heart-center position--I'm not perfectly still. I'm constantly trying to maintain my balance, shifting my weight slightly side to side and tensing and relaxing muscles constantly in my feet and ankles to keep me balanced.
Motherhood is the same way. There is no "right balance," because needs are shifting constantly. And you're right, the best thing you can do is pray for discernment to know, right now, where should you shift your focus. And you can bet it will be different tomorrow. But overall, as you trust your gut and the Spirit, you'll get it right. Just stay on your toes!

Anonymous said...

I'd say the one thing I would do in your position is get a helper/maid. If income allows of course. I've found that even having a couple of beehives come over a couple times a week to do tasks that I can never get around to helps keep me sane (especially when I'd rather play with my kids than dust the house). And if I need to, have a professional come twice a month and do the deep cleaning. It's definitely worth it to me and makes me enjoy even the busiest days when I know my house is clean.

Mary Beth said...

Last night I was visiting teaching, and came to the part where I made the routine offer to help in whatever way I could. And this time my visiting teachee actually took us up on it... So I'm going to her house on Thursday to help her unpack some boxes she hasn't yet got to. And it's interesting the kind of spectrum of feelings I went through--I really did want to help her, to be a better visiting teacher and not just the kind who comes once a month to talk for 30 minutes and then never shows up again. So I was glad she found something we could help with, and I'm glad for the opportunity to offer service and think about someone other than myself. At the same time I'm still struggling with dismay: how on earth am I going to manage this when I've got so many other things to do?

But y'know, I know this is important. And whenever I make a commitment to do the important things, somehow everything else manages to get done, too. I have faith that you'll be able to decide on the important things, too, and to accomplish everything else that you need to do (even if occasionally you have to let go of the things you want to do). Good luck with it all!

Crapos said...

I have nothing smart or pretty to say, just that I feel your pain and I'm sorry for your 11 appointments! We have the same thing going on around here. Neil and I keep looking at the calendar trying to cut things out and we can't. We've tried to have a date for two months now and there's just no time. I have THREE church activities on the SAME night this week and one medical appt meant I was gone from 7:35 to 2:00 one day last week. I have resigned myself to the fact that I can only do the most essential things in my home but when I pare down that list, I still can't do it all.
I was reading Sister Beck's conference talk from April and she says "A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do... But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently." You should read it, you know, in all your spare time ;) After reading it I decided that I wasn't doing enough to qualify for that Spirit and if I could just muster a little more time to devote to prayer and scriptures and gratitude that maybe I would get that inspiration and know what to do. The next talk by Bishop McMullin talks about inspired prayer too. It's pretty good.
I hope you find a nice balance that you can live with this week. Good luck.

Neil said...


This struggle is what life is all about. And the fact that you are pondering and praying about it shows that you are on top of it. I would be concerned if you didn't have worries like this. I think you are a wonderful mother. I could see that in you when we first met and it was one of the main reasons why I chose to get to know you.

I love you very much.

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