My mom brain is loaded with logistics and plan for everything plans. If you missed the last blog post, check out what it takes to achieve a morning at the pool with my kids. My thinking has become so strategic, so calculated, that I've actually lost the ability to determine what I want. I am so used to hashing out every possible scenario in my head and choosing what will work instead of what I want. For example, dinner out. I want a leisurely dinner out complete with wine and dessert and grown up food like salmon. But what will work is the Mexican restaurant where we order our food without looking at the menu, ask for the check when the food comes, the kids can be loud(ish), and I can put them in the car while I'm still chewing my last bite of burrito because time is up. It's just reality. As parents, we learn to think "what will work" instead of "what do I want". Because we have to. Because if we didn't, we'd end up with even more face palm moments than we already have.
But then, what's happened to me is that I can't decide what I want how when I do have the chance. I still think in terms of "what will work", when in reality, anything will work! I can have the freaking salmon. If. I. Want.
My husband just tried to let me choose what to do for our anniversary. And I almost couldn't do it. I couldn't let myself be simple. I couldn't answer what I wanted. I didn't even have that many choices, but I was frozen. I was mom-alyzing the decision instead of just picking what I wanted. I was so used to pushing aside what I wanted in favor of what works that I had no idea how to just pick what I wanted. I needed the strategic planning. It's how my brain works now. So I had to slow way way down and make a grand effort to stop thinking and just let myself choose what I wanted. And it felt really good.
So, henceforth, I will officially be working out my "what do I want muscle" whenever possible. I'm starting in little league. Not "what do I want for my life" or "what do I want my legacy to be". I'm starting with fun. What do I want to do for fun? I want to relearn how to play. My way. I just want to retrain myself to know what I want, let myself be ok with wanting it and actually having it. I'm talking simple stuff. Like trying kayaking. Or reading a fiction book. Easy does it at this point, ladies. It's back to basics for me.
Now, I'm the shiz at pretend play, storytelling, and fun with my kids. I know how to have fun with them. I exercise my "what do my kids want muscle" on the regular. It's fit and toned and ready for action. And when it comes to myself, I accept that "what will work" will still win most of the time because I have two tiny humans. Period. Plain and simple. But sometimes, I do get the chance to pick what I really want. And I'm going to be ready. Because knowing what we want seems simple, but if we don't ask ourselves often enough AND let ourselves have it, then our "what do I want muscle" atrophies and it won't work any more. So just sometimes, I'm getting a babysitter and getting the freaking salmon. It will work. If. I Want.
It's like The Cat in the Hat says, "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how."
Sweet summertime. Slow and simple. Fun and playful. And as a mom, loaded with logistics. Every adventure takes full blown strategic planning. Let's break down the "morning at the pool" adventure with my 1 and 2 year olds. Here are the steps one must account for:
Prep Time: 1 hour
1 - Drag naked runaway 2 year old out from under the coffee table and wrestle her 85 limbs into a swim suit.
2 - Take off the suit because it was the obvious wrong choice. Choose the correct suit.
3 - Drag naked runaway 2 year old out of the closet and wrestle her 85 limbs into the right swimsuit.
4 - Track down the baby and pry swimsuit she's been carrying around the house from her tiny steel trap fist and wrestle her 1000 limbs into swim diaper and swim suit.
5 - Smell poop.
6 - Take off 1 year old swim suit, change swim diaper, and replace swim suit on body.
7 - Referee a fight over sunscreen.
8 - Apply sunscreen to two tiny moving targets.
9 - Pack bag with towels, hats, sunscreen, extra swim diapers, dry clothes, regular diapers and wipes. Put the bag by the door.
10 - Pack snacks and water bottles and fight with the 2 year old over why she can't have them all now.
11 - Put on my swimsuit while 1 year old unpacks bag and 2 year old eats snacks.
12 - Repeat steps 9 and 10.
13 - Load all humans and bags into car. Be sure to let 2 year old open the front door, jump off the bottom step and climb in the car through the front seat to her car seat.
14 - Buckle everyone and put the car in reverse.
15 - 2 year old announces she has to potty.
16 - Unload everyone. Let two year old potty. This means choosing which potty she wants, which sink in the house to wash her hands in, and a few songs.
17 - Repeat steps 13-14.
15 - Drive to pool, unload babies and bags.
Swim Adventure: 30 minutes
1 - Let everyone get in the water, splash, squeal, enjoy the pool.
2 - 2 year old announces she's all done. 1 year old follows her lead.
Wrap up: 1.5 hours
1: Enjoy snacks by the pool. Ensure snacks are divided equally and console whoever spills something.
2: Change baby into dry diaper and clothes.
3: Assess 2 year old. Is she dry enough to ride home or does she need to change? She will need time for her opposing arguments.
4: Gather wet belongings, including children, and proceed to the car.
5: Begin car loading process. Listen to 2 year old debate whether she should "hang and drop" into her car seat, slide in, jump in, or slither in like a snake.
6: Make sure everyone has "something to hold" on the way home.
7: Drive home singing loudly, hoping to avoid car naps.
8: Upon arrival back home, unload wet belongings, including children.
9: If meal time, feed children. No matter that they just had pool snacks.
10: Wrangle two now exhausted fussy children into the tub to wash chlorine and sunscreen from their sensitive skin.
11: Calmly administer baths while children scream that they are not tired.
12: Negotiate with the tiny tyrant 2 year old to potty before nap. Promise anything she wants when she wakes up if she will just empty her bladder.
13: Clean clothes, clean babies, snuggles, books, kisses, sleep.
14: Victory dance (in my still damp swimsuit and cover up).
Rinse and repeat a few times a day, with a few minor adjustments based on the specifics of the adventure.
So my point is that I want a simple, slow summer. But even simple takes effort in this mom life. Just getting them dressed and in the car takes high levels of grit and perseverance. But that's life, folks. It's work to be in charge of tiny humans. And even simple is rarely ever simple. So, let's just embrace the effort it takes to be simple. The work itself never ends, but we can choose our perspective on all the effort. We can slow to the pace of our toddlers. Because why are we actually in such a hurry? We can laugh through the potty accidents, tantrums, marker all over the body, trying to escape the house naked moments. Because why can't it be a little bit funny? We can choose to embrace the work because the work is the real adventure of parenting. It's the good stuff that shapes our kids. My 2 year old might not remember that I packed the best pool snacks or that her 2 year old summer was filled with all the best age appropriate activities, carefully selected to give her a range of "experiences". But she might take something else from this summer. Something bigger. Something that becomes part of her. She might not remember a single experience, but she might grow more confident from not being rushed, more empathetic from being listened to, more kind from being put first, and more creative from being told no. If I can reframe the work as the adventure then we're in for a crazy fun ride. Cheers to summer. And pool snacks.
Summer is my favorite season. I love the heat, the water, the long days. Mostly, though, I love the slowness. I tend to live a little more freely in the summer. My mind resets somehow from why to why not. Why not eat popsicles on the porch before dinner? Why not hit the beach, take the trip, bathe the kids in the Target baby pool? I just love it. And I can feel myself shift into summer mode. It's tangible. I feel lighter, more open, more energized, more centered. And this year, I'm using my awareness to be super intentional about this summer. My only goal this summer is to slow down. I'm quitting busy and chasing slow. And it's going to be awesome.
"I'm so busy. Things have just been crazy." I tell people that when they ask how I am. Is that even an answer? I don't say I'm tired and overwhelmed. I don't say I'm happy and fulfilled. I say. "I'm good. We're just so busy." Do you do that? I do. Even when I mean to say something different. Busy works its way in. Why? I mean I am busy, but it's not the number one takeaway I want people to know about me when they ask how I am. I actually don't even want to be busy, and yet here I am - busy. I make busy, need busy, crave busy. Even though I I don't want to really be busy. What I want is simple. I want simplicity. I want presence. I want authenticity. I want people who I love and things that bring me joy. I want to see the glory of God everywhere. I want simple simple simple and yet I pursue busy busy busy. Why?
My husband recently told me about an article he read. It suggested that in our culture, "busy" projects status. It used to be that things projected status - if you had a big house, fancy car, designer clothes, that projected status. Not anymore. Now it's all about how busy we are. We equate our level of busyness to how much we are wanted and needed. So, if we are busy, we are important.
We want to be busy because we want to be important. I get it. I know I want to be important. So the illusion becomes the busier I am the more important I am. It makes total sense. In an attempt to fill the need to be needed, we get busy. But does it work? Are we really needed by any of the things we busy ourselves with? Or our we so busy being busy that we miss who and what needs us most?
I've found that, for me, the simpler I keep my schedule the more saturated the moments are. The less I multitask the more engaged and satisfied I am; and the more I learn what can wait. The less I talk the more I know people. The less I commit to, the more committed I am to what's important. So why do I still pursue busy?
Because I want to be important. I want status. If I'm asked to do something - bring cupcakes or come to a party, or pick up someone's kids, or give money, or lead a Bible Study - I find value in the busy. I find value in being needed. But often it's an illusion. The party doesn't need the cupcakes as much as I need to rest. The party will go on without me if I need a date with my husband. I can say no. I can choose what's best for me. But I don't. I choose busy because when I choose busy, I think I'm choosing important.
I know what you might be thinking - I want to be good person too. I want to help and be there for people and be involved. But saying no to busy doesn't have to mean saying no to being good or involved or helpful. It just means we get to prioritize EACH commitment EACH time. So, is it important enough THIS TIME to give up time with our family? Is it important enough THIS TIME to give up having a quiet night alone or with my husband? Sometimes it is. Sometimes we really are needed. And we need to be there for the friend, the child, the school who really needs our gifts and presence. But sometimes the answer is no. Our kids need us home, our husband deserves quality time, and we need a break. Every situation is different. And every time we can pause and examine and choose.
When we value ourselves and how we spend our time, others will value us and our time too. Sometimes it's ok to to just not want to do it. Because sometimes all you want is simple. All you want is saturation. All you want is to see the glory of God everywhere. When we stop seeing it everywhere, it's time to lose a little busy. It's important that we do our part for the whole but not at the expense of being whole. We are important. Busy doesn't make us important. We just are. Because we are alive.
I say it all the time. "How are we so busy? How did this happen?" I finally know why. I have a mindset that busy equals important. Busy equals needed, wanted, loved. If I simplify, I run the risk of not being noticed, of not being important, or needed, or loved. If I simplify I might not have a purpose. What?! It sounds crazy, I know. But, busy means a lot to us. I have really good news, though. It's not true.
Our purpose is not to run errands and head committees and chauffeur our children to a hundred activities. Our purpose is simple: love all, love always. Love is simple. It is saturated. It shows us the glory of God everywhere. And love can get left behind when we chase busy. How can we love when are racing at breakneck pace to keep up? We think we do the busy in love, but really love got tired a hundred miles back and we left it. Instead we took obligation, duty, and social norms with us and kept chasing busy. But listen, love is still back there, waiting to be picked up, waiting to show us what life is all about, waiting to relieve us from the chase. So I'm stopping to go back and get it. I'm adjusting my pace so love can keep up and stay with me. I'm letting busy lose its power and I'm claiming the simple, saturated, glorious way of living. Because busy is not important. I am. You are.
So Summer, bring on the slow. I'm ready. Busy is over rated, and I'm choosing slow. It's a challenge, but why not? Why not saturate my moments? Why not take my time to make sure I see God's glory all around me? Why not rest in the truth that I'm important. Period. Not because of anything. Just because I am. Go on without me, Busy. You have no power here. I'm with Slow. I'm with Love. And I'm here to stay.