One year can make a huge difference. This time last year, I was five months pregnant. We lived on an acre and a half in New Braunfels, Texas, a place Brady and I have come to call “our Eden.” Tristan was finishing up Kindergarten in the best school in the county, surrounded by his closest friends, playing soccer on the weekends and deeply involved in our church. Wyatt was going part time to the kind of preschool that I know with 100% confidence was hand-picked and gifted to us by God. (We miss you terribly, Ms. Kerry!!)
But life wasn’t all it seemed to be. I have to remind myself of this point when I get too homesick.
Besides all these beautiful things about our lives, on the inside, we were gasping for air. Brady worked and traveled constantly. He had an hour and a half commute each way! I was knee deep in being the managing owner of a successful small business. A small business that kept me from my family on EVERY major holiday for the previous five years. My phone rang constantly, never really allowing for my kids to get my undivided attention. And I was TIRED! I didn’t want anyone to miss out on anything, so every night was full of activities. That meant that I dropped everyone off at school in the morning, worked all day, and the raced home to pick them up, feed them a healthy meal (from the frozen section of HEB of course!) and get us where we needed to be. That usually entailed a panicked call to my mom who was in all essence the boys’ primary care giver, and absolutely my life saver, telling her how they needed to be dressed, what to have collected and ready to go (and where it might be located in our chaotic house). On a few occasions, Tristan had a special lunch or party at school at an odd time of day. So, I’d go to work for an hour. Drive 30 minutes back to New Braunfels for the event, stay 30 minutes, and then drive 30 minutes back. I was sure if I didn’t, Tristan would never forgive me. Afterall, in my mind, all the other kids had stay-at-home moms who made it not only to the class parties and field trips, but helped make copies for the teachers and performed major surgery in the break room in their spare time.
Fast forward to now. Now, I live in a world where I have someone who comes and watches the baby three mornings a week. The boys are both in school full time. Brady’s commute is a solid ten minutes. I no longer work outside of the home. We either go to church on Sunday only, or watch last week’s Oakwood sermon streamed from home. Tristan has French tutoring once a week, and we are trying to get both boys into football (soccer). Other than that, we lead a much slower paced life. And you know what? We are happier. We have dinner with friends at least once a week, if not more. The boys have play dates. I have gone to get my hair done and grocery shopped without any kids. I even got a mani/pedi on a Saturday afternoon (albeit with a baby on my lap!) Here’s my point: When we stopped running around being busy, we started spending our time more wisely. We have time for that game of Memory with the boys. Feeding Lyla is not the chore it was with Wyatt. I love to see the faces she makes as she tries new foods; the independence she is acquiring as she learns to feed herself. Brady and I have gone on more dates since we arrived in Bosnia than we did the entire previous year. And our kids aren’t being raised by day care, or our nanny. We are just not as busy.
When I first came to the realization that I was no longer busy, I felt guilty. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. My friends work harder than me. I need to get a job so I have more worth. It became apparent to me that busyness had become my crown of thorns that I wore like a badge of honor. Let me say that again, I was miserable, and I wanted extra credit for it. Sick, right? Until I really thought about it and came to the conclusion that our American culture glorifies busyness, and I had fallen right into the trap. If you aren’t constantly on the go, then you are lazy. And lazy adults breed lazy kids, so be sure to keep them as busy as you. I remember one time posting on Facebook something about a book I had read, and the first response was from someone loathing how they wished they had time to read. Really? We have the same 24 hours. And I was really busy at that time. So, what was the logical response? To question why I had so much free time to read and how could I be spending that time in other “more productive ways,” of course. I hate to repeat myself, but Really??
I know my life is unique in a lot of ways. I have the ability to not work anymore. I have someone who can come and love on my kids so I can go workout or get some much needed quality time with the hubs. Not everyone has that. And when we move back to the states, I likely won’t have it either. But, what I hope to have is a perspective on what’s important. I hope to have the ability to say “NO” to things so I won’t be so busy. And the confidence to be ok with watching everyone around me scuttle about trying to keep all their ducks in a row, while I sit and sip on a cup of coffee and read my book. Because in reality, this is the only life we get. I’d hate to look back on it in 50 years and see how much I truly missed when I was trying to do it all.