In a life full of to-do lists and expectations, how do we conquer the day?
I try to remind myself of Matthew 6:34 all the time! This Bible verse says, “Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” It’s a reminder that we need only worry about today. Notice the word “try” in that first sentence. I feel like I’m always “trying” but never quite achieving or arriving. I don’t think I’m alone in this. It’s not news. We all want to be productive. We’re running homes, businesses, raising the future, etc. It’s no wonder we are, at times, exhausted and running on fumes.
My book club just finished “The Island of Missing Trees” by Elif Shafak, and this quote stuck out to me: “Because we’re busy! Women have more important things to do. Taking care of our families, our parents, our children, our communities, making sure everything runs smoothly. Women are holding up the world, we don’t have time for monkey business.” That resonated with me on an extremely deep level.
It showed me that I may be trying to run my house more like a drill sergeant and less like a loving mom. I want everything perfect and in its place. All of the items on my to-do list must get checked off. I want to feel like I am in control and have everything under control. I think some of this stems from a desire to be a responsible stay-at-home mom. Taking care of my house and children is my privilege, but it’s also my job, so to speak. We all want to give our best at our job. No one wants to fail their performance evaluation. But, I have to think about who is doing my evaluation. Am I working for man or for the Lord? Am I trying to impress myself? My husband? Other moms?
In all my striving, I keep coming up short, not just for myself, but also for my children. I end up simply ‘surviving’ each day. They’re not getting the best of me because I’m giving all of my energy to ‘other’ things, thinking that I’m doing it for them. I’ve recently realized that they don’t care that I’ve picked up the same baby doll or Lego 38 times in the past two hours. They don’t care if the laundry baskets are full or empty. They certainly could care less about the healthy dinner that takes over an hour to prepare. The only things they care about are being full (gold fish and fruit snacks) and having fun, whether we’re reading, dancing, swinging, or just watching a movie together. I do want my home to be orderly and organized, but I no longer need to be ruled by it.
I finally began to realize that when anything positive would happen, I would say, “Hey, that’s a win.” So, I started looking for those throughout my days. The best ones are the moments that seem insignificant. Those small moments mean everything, if you can pause long enough to embrace them. What I found was that by changing my perspective, I am able to change how my day is ‘run’ or ‘ruled.’ It takes the pressure off me, which also takes pressure off my children. Some of my wins include things like the following
- My four year old only changed clothes one time that day.
- My one year old took a nap longer than 15 minutes.
- Publix had Gatorade in stock.
- I got a decent parking place at Target.
- I was able to take a shower.
- My son put clothes in the laundry basket rather than beside it.
- My children played together—alone—for more than 45 seconds.
- Dinner got cooked.
- The kids held hands while in the car.
- We had no meltdowns in public.
- My son said, “Mommy, thank you. I love when we play together.”
- My daughter looked at me and then did the sign for “I love you.”
- The three of us found ourselves belly laughing at absolutely nothing.
- I heard my son talk so sweetly to my daughter, telling her that she’s his queen, and that he loves her and will always take care of her.
- We are all alive at the end of the day!
My husband has also helped me see that it’s okay if something has to get pushed to tomorrow. The world will not end because I didn’t get all of the laundry complete! I will not be fired because, well, no one else wants the gig. 🙂 Most importantly, the kids are all okay, and even happy! Their growth and joy don’t depend on my to-do list or personal accomplishments. It depends on me just being there, being flexible, and helping them find fun in each day! Once I started looking, I discovered that there are a lot more wins than losses. Hear that, mama? You really are winning!