I hear those words swirl around me in every corner of my life…from the at home mom to to the working mom to the sports family to the single career focused…I’m so busy. We have become almost immune to it, like a cold, we don’t really flinch when we get one, it just happens and we move on, trudging through. And it doesn’t really both me…except when people say it to me..”you’re so busy” and it seems like it’s being used as an excuse, because although my days are full, I don’t usually feel ‘busy’.
There are days when it feels like too much, and I will admit there are plenty of those days, more piles than clear counter, more laundry than hampers, more bills than money, more kids to drop off than gas…you know it. But I have worked diligently on finding a balance, on finding not bus, on creating space, and calm and a free calendar. So when someone says to me, “you’re so busy” I have to take a step back and ponder that. I guess from the outside I look busy … but I don’t really like that word because to me it’s shallow and superficial. Like I’m filling my time for no other reason than to fill my time. Like the worksheets we used to get in school after a test or before an assembly to keep us ‘busy’. Really nothing good comes of it except to fill a gap. So is this a trap we can fall into, creating busyness?
I admit, I have a full schedule. And yes, I schedule stuff and yes, I often times with four children and two businesses have to be flexible and super creative sometimes in order to fulfill my obligations. And yes, many times things fall through the cracks. And yes, I may not always be available at the drop of a hat or even with a days notice. But to me a full schedule is different than being busy. A full schedule is deliberate for the most part, it is planned and designed to work for me and our family. It is intentional work time, mom time, wife time. Again, I daily mess that up and get them out of order and overlap them and it becomes fuzzy sometimes. And I catch myself wanting to respond to an email immediately while a child is standing before me. But does that make me ‘so busy’.
There was a time that I thought I needed to fill us up with stuff to occupy our time, our every moment….play date after play date…then I realized that my kids did better, had just as much fun and functioned better the more down time they had. The more time they had to just be, to play with the neighbors creating their own games, to be creative in their own minds, to not have me or anyone else entertain them for hours on end. To be ok with being with themselves. And that right there is what I think a lot of the busy is….being afraid of being alone, of falling behind, of missing something … of having our kids miss something or fall behind someone else’s kid. If I’m not going, going, going then I’m not doing what people think I should be doing. With four kids people have always said things to me like, “you have your hands full”, “your too busy”, “I don’t want to bother you”, “I wouldn’t dream of dropping my kids off to you, you have enough going on”. And although I appreciate all those false sentiments (yeah that was a little sarcastic) they’ve been hurtful to me. I would rather someone ask me and I’m not be able to help them that time than to not ask. Thankfully through the years I have come to realize that it was more about them than it was about me. Those statements are more about them feeling victimized by their own busyness, than me actually being busy. Because honestly, we spend a lot of time at home, just doing life.
So as summer crests the midway point and we start sliding down the other side full speed into the start of school and fall, I urge you, no I beg you…stop – look – listen…like you would before you cross at a railroad…. are you busy or are you full, full of time to refresh, to be still, to listen to your heart, your own thoughts (I know that can be scary), to be with your kids, not occupy them, to cut something out that isn’t serving you or your family, to courageously say no to a meeting or a project — I’m here to tell you, it’s ok to slow down, it’s ok to let others know you don’t have plans to go out over the weekend and you like it that way. It’s ok to say no to your child wanting to participate in another activity. It’s ok to work hard, play hard and love hard…just keep an eye on where your focus is, because at the end of it all, it’s not the one who was the busiest that wins.