Last week was the busiest of my entire summer. Planets aligned (or collided) with family events, our church youth conference (which I was a committee member of and a speaker for), and a few “Faithful” promotional events (never mind the usual laundry, cleaning, cooking, and running kids around). Initially, I approached it with trepidation, then with prayer, then with desperation: how could I make this work and still keep family first?
I was reminded of some key principles. One—I was going to disappoint everyone in some way. There was not enough of me to go around. I’d already committed to a few things months before and they simply aligned in this unexpected fashion. Two—I needed to stay focused on family time, even if it sounded hollow to others. And three—I had to say no, in some way, to each set of people and events.
During the week I prayerfully pieced myself out and said yes to only the core essentials of so many worthwhile things, while keeping my big chunks with family. Amazingly, I felt an underlying peace and an energy supply that was not my own, sometimes going on only four hours of sleep. And though I couldn’t do all that was asked of me, or in a stellar fashion, I could piece out a bit here, a bit there, and still contribute what was key.
But the real test came for me one morning, at the week’s end, when I had to choose between an important spiritual event that was part of my committee endeavors (though I wasn’t a central part) or to spend time with my children.
The dilemma may sound silly because it’s a no-brainer. But to tell people, good people, that you won’t be able to do something important because you need to spend time with your kids can sound a bit mundane.
But it wasn’t.
So I stayed home and my husband and I sat outside in the slight cool of the morning, shady trees shadowing the yard and the driveway, and listened to the gleeful (yes, gleeful) sounds of our kids riding their bikes. As Dave and I sat arm in arm, reconnecting—talking, sharing, helping me get over my burst of guilt at not being able to do and be more—the children would come up intermittently and share their discoveries, reconnecting also.
It was as perfect a morning as I can remember.
And I knew, from a deeply peaceful and contented feeling, I had done the right thing.
So this fall, sweet mothers especially, when so many choices await you, and the yearly process of piecing yourself begins, remember that it’s never mundane or hollow to say you can’t because you need to spend time with your family. And that balance in motherhood requires saying no, prayerfully choosing, and disappointing someone along the way. And that’s okay.