Friday, February 28, 2014

Margin for the Middle-aged Mama

As I am planning 10th birthday parties and watching the independence of my children bloom, I am aware that my time with my children is limited.  As my kiddos grow the mental and emotional requirements of meeting them where they are and loving them to the cross are great--exhausting even--taking me to the ends of myself. Additionally, I desire to create a home of peace and order as loving support for my husband's work in a stressful career.

Although my actions don't always reflect it, my heart wants to save my best for the four other people who share my home. It has taken years of tweaking my schedule--and seasons where various things move to the front and the back of our family agenda--but I have come to realize that a key component of my ability love my family well is margin.

It's a buzzword, I know...but for me, it is essential. As a result, I have been in a season of reigning it in as a homemaker/wife/mama/community volunteer.

Yesterday I sat across the table from people I love at a charitable organization I adore and said about a worthy project, "This isn't my season. I can't do it."

The people pleaser inside me died a thousand deaths. The passionate world changer in me felt self absorbed. I've been praying ever since that the Lord would let me know if my motives were selfish or impure.

I have reinstated my policy of blocking 2-3pm each day for rejuvenation and quiet before our afternoon rush begins. I've tried to put away my cell phone as much as possible during the hours of 3p-9p. I have also tried to schedule blocks of 'at home' time during my weekdays when the children are at school so that unmanaged laundry, piles of paperwork and a sink full of dishes don't steal from the time when my people are home.

As I am typing this I realize it all sounds so old fashioned--and I don't really care. It is working for my family. I am reading my Bible again--something many busy days distracted me from. My anxiety is decreased. My mood is better. My daughter even commented last night that she noticed a change. I cringe as I confess her actual comment was, "Thanks, Mom, for not freaking out about that." (As in, you usually freak out, I am pleasantly surprised you didn't this time.)

And I confess that while hopping off the hamster wheel has brought peace, it has also left me feeling boring, with little to write about and even a bit lonely.

My friends and I have noticed a funny thing that happens during Summer break when most stay at home Mamas are forced to refocus their energy from their 'usual schedule'--we call it Summer Insecurity. It's that deep sense that you are doing the right thing by shifting your focus back to full time motherhood, but you are somehow also missing out.

As my children age I get flashes of this insecurity a bit more year round. There are fewer stories about my children that are appropriate to share. I have to think long and hard about the implications of anything I type--since they've admitted they log on and read this from time to time. And even among friends, every kid struggle isn't a conversation piece.

Cruising the Internet last week I stumbled across this post by Rachel Anne Ridge. I passed it on to a couple of friends and we agreed that she nailed it. THIS is where we are...Not alone, just focused. Even as the crowds thin, we remain devoted to being good stewards of the role with which we have been entrusted. In certain seasons, the road curves and takes us out of the pack and into more solitary places. As long as we are still relying on Him as our guide, these narrow roads with fewer traveling companions are OK. It is a season. And God is working it all out no doubt.

So if I'm a little more quiet, just know I'm tending home fires and it is well with my soul.

P.S. I realize this post is very much from the perspective of a stay at home Mom. I cannot even begin to imagine how much harder it must be for working Mamas who don't have the flexibility I do. I hope you don't find this offensive in any way. It was absolutely not my intent. Prayers specifically for you as I hit publish--that in your own ways, you too will find the margin you need.


Kate Geisen said...

As a working mom, I didn't find this offensive at all. We're all in different places, and I'm sure I couldn't begin to imagine what it's like parenting triplets. Even if our places in life are very different, I always learn from your perspective. Thank you from sharing the things you can.

Mrs. Sweetbriar said...

I am a working mama - no offense here either. A Facebook friend posted a quote the other day that has stuck with me and might be meaningful to you as well. "Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise." - Andy Stanley

Samantha said...

It is encouraging to see another mom choose to step back from the good things she does so she can give her family her best. It is a constant struggle! As the mother of 2 teenagers I am very aware that life is so very seasonal! This time with our children, these years to create habits and memories are so very short. Use them well and shake off those voices of guilt about what you are not doing. What you are doing is a job ONLY YOU can do.

Denise Ross said...

I'm a working mother too, and no offense taken. A quote that I've read is that who you are at home with your family, is who you really are. That sticks with and convicts me. I've worked hard to be the perfect Christian in my workplace and put my best into my workplace. By the time I was home I was worn out and had little left to nurture both my husband and children. I've since prayed and I'm working at giving my best to my family, doing the best I can at work but knowing that the only way to see God through me is for my work colleagues to see the real me, warts and all. Since I've made this change life at home is better, my loving from me and less stressed. I'm also more relaxed at work too.