I’ve done this cycle so many times it’s almost comical– my life gets overwhelming, someone in my house cries STOP, I cut out as much as possible and we bump along the road of life until it happens again.
Just one day after Ben talked me into photographing a fall wedding, “Because we could do it together; it would be so much fun!” he came back to me with, “I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t want you as a business partner; I need you as my mom. I need you to be calm and steady and available. And everyone else around here needs you too.”
Maybe I could choose to be offended by his words, but I felt complimented and relieved. I said ‘no’ to an inordinate number of requests and felt especially grateful the next week when more stresses landed in our family than I could have anticipated.
I’ll protect my childrens’ privacy and refrain from detailing the events of that awful week. But I was so very grateful I’d already made the decision to simplify, cut back, retreat.
We never know when disaster will strike. I remember when my mom was dying and I wrote, “Why do I get so damn busy? And that’s exactly the right word because I block or damn myself from happiness and the people who matter most.”
I know I’m not alone. The pull in and out of our homes remains a constant struggle for women and men. We have so many ways to fill our hours. But I know how I want to fill mine this fall: planning the wedding, teaching Mary, making dinner and bread and cookies, answering the phone whenever my children need me for quick requests or long conversations, paying attention, visiting all my loved ones in Provo, writing and posting photos right here.
That’s another request/criticism from Ben, “You need to write on the blog more.” It might seem strange that my children love this space so much, but it builds our family and provides a window home for Hans in Madagascar (he should land sometime tomorrow after 48 hours of travel). While I feel guilty and sorry about retreating from the world, I’ll be right here. Some of what I share might be useful, some purely selfish (like finally creating a video of our 2013 trip to Italy). Hopefully I’ll write with more authenticity, rather than just the highlight reel that emerges when I’m here only once a week. But first, I need to address those wedding invitations. And that’s a very happy task.
I hate saying no to parties and gatherings and time with friends and all that goes along with my fun calling. So then I go to everything and love it but then I stay up too late and drag the next day at work and then it starts all over again. Nothing gets done around my home (do I even have anything clean to wear tomorrow?) and I feel awful getting only 5 hours of sleep a night. I had someone I love and respect greatly tell me flat out to take more time for myself – I’m really trying and sometimes succeeding. It’s hard though! And I’m glad your kids appreciate your blog even more than I do. (Oh and I’m loving Hansie’s emails so much!)xoxo
I so very much respect your decision and ability to be happy with what immediately surrounds you. It’s what I want as a mother. I want to stop the glorification of busy and just marinate in what’s right next to me. Thanks for the reminder.
I’m glad your son is encouraging to blog more. This will go on my list today of things I am grateful for. Your writing is very engaging and thought provoking for me.
I love you, and you continue to inspire me to be more present with my family and take another look at priorities. Thinking about yous. xoxoxoxoxo
I recently came to the conclusion (as I was spinning through my version of this cycle) that the best thing I could do for my health, the baby’s heath (I’m pregnant),my mental health, spiritual health, my marriage, my children, our homeschooling, all of it, is to simply go to bed earlier. And guess what? It is working!
I love coming here and reading your words of wisdom. Your example speaks volumes to me, thank you for sharing, Michelle. I send my best wishes for a long calm, happy stage in the life of you and your beautiful family.
My soul really needed your words this morning. Thank you! I just love how you pay close attention to the needs of your family and adjust accordingly. It can be too easy to just keep hurrying and running around. I have felt grateful time and time again that I can put as my job description: “on call friend, on call mom, on call wife, on call sister…”. I love having some spaces built into my life so that when a kid comes down with a fever, I am glad to have him home with me or when my sister needs to talk, I eagerly pick up the phone or when my boy needs a package delivered, I can run to the UPS store. It feels like a real privilege (most of the time:) to be here, around, and available for the people I love the most. These souls in our care need to feel like there is a safe place to land. I remember reading a quote years ago (unfortunately I can’t recall the writer) which essentially stated, “When your family is wrestling with something hard, what your kids need most from you is pancakes. They need to feel like all the simple, beautiful, everyday things in their world will continue and be there for them no matter what.” I’ve thought about that idea again and again. It was the idea that inspired me to bake banana bread for my boy shortly after bringing him home from a traumatic surgery in the E.R. The sounds of the mixer, the whiff of the vanilla, all the inquiries about when it would be ready just made us all feel like there was something normal in the craziness.
I can’t wait to read more of your writing through the months and years. You combine brilliance, wisdom, and so much love in your words and pictures. Wishing you all the best as you prepare for a very, very joyous event. xox
Hi Michelle, You probably don’t remember me, but I’m a friend of Lisa G. I pop over to your blog once in awhile because I love your uplifting, meaningful messages. I don’t want to be a stalker 🙂 But want you to know this post hit a chord with me for many reasons, but especially the part about keeping up with a blog. I agree that it truly does build family unity and is a place the kids – when they are all over the map – can check in and see what is happening on the home front. It’s a great journal of family life. You have inspired me to spend some time catching up on ours! Thanks for your positive example in so many people’s lives. A friend, Leisa
Of course I remember you Leisa! Thanks for your kind words. Much love to you and your family.