burden and levity / by Carey

Even now, acknowledging how much the feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to accomplish it all affects me.... I don't believe I even have a full grasp on it.

Friday, I woke at 530-600 like normal and had my 'me time' before getting the kids up to get ready for school.
I took them at eight,
came straight home and showered,
went to Warrior's at 9am for the kindergarten field trip til 12 or so,
ran an errand,
went back to the school to help in (not so little) Buddy's class with a building creativity project (that was so wonderful and fun),
took the van to get gas,
came back to the school and picked (not so little) Buddy up,
came back home and parked in the garage,
we never went inside. They went straight to the backyard to play.

And I joined them.
Carey Pace on life and motherhood
And it felt SO wonderful.

It's not like I never play with them outside, enjoying their imaginations and creativity and this new stage of life now that they are 7 and almost 6. This stage IS so very much FUN. I cannot form coherent words around how wonderful it feels just to observe them interacting, seeing their own personalities, quirks, and attempts at learning how to relationally navigate the world. It's like I understand that look that came over older people's eyes when they'd gaze at you while younger - I know what they felt now.

So it isn't that I never do that, at all. I do. I may not enjoy or be very good at imaginary play... but I AM there with them. I will absolutely be midway through washing dishes, and throw them down and say, forget it! They will never be this age again and I"m going outside! Now, granted, I DO (albeit reluctantly as a good Anxiety Girl should) send them out to play, just them, without me there. I think that is important as well. But all of this to say, it isn't like I've never sat in the backyard while they played.

But yesterday was different. DIFFERENT.

Yesterday at 315pm, I hadn't been inside my home all day long.
I hadn't started any projects.
I hadn't half written any emails.
I hadn't started editing any photos.
I wasn't immersed in one of many loads of laundry.
I wasn't involved in an internet conversation with a hurting friend I was trying to counsel and encourage.
I wasn't halfway through cleaning a room.
I wasn't trying to get them started on homework.
I wasn't trying to get dinner prepared.
I wasn't trying to unload the dishwasher.
I wasn't trying to scramble to keep the house in a semi straightened order so it doesn't feel like clutteropolis when Shawn gets home.

None of that.

Because I was not here, at home, all day long, I could not begin anything. And hence, I felt no OBLIGATION to continue. No obligation to complete what I had begun. No echoes of the compulsion to FINISH what you had started, because that's what you are supposed to do.

And gracious, that felt so. very. good.

I could walk into the backyard, sit next to the swing set, and engage in their half decade old chatter, wholly.

How often does the weight that sits on my shoulders show in my face, to them?

I was reminded of how glorious it felt last October when we went to Hilton Head for a few days for Fall Break. I didn't anticipate it going in, at all. But we were away. There were no obligations placed on me. I couldn't do the many things piled up on my to do list, for we weren't at home where I even COULD attempt to accomplish them. So there was nothing to do but be free and enjoy the sand, the ocean, and my family. It was wonderful, and _I_ felt wonderful. That was the first time I really understood the weight that all these burdens was placing on me every moment of every day, at home.

I have learned about myself that when I feel that I have not completed a task, something I "owe", it eats at me. It continually chips away at my outlook, and I am weakened. It chips away at my mentality and replaces it with burden. Burden Burden Burden.

That is how I always feel: burdened.

And Burdened sucks my joy, and everything that makes me ME. A silent lurking leech, ever present, not so noticeable, but destructive all the same.

I got behind on managing the finances. So I would put it off til I had some more time. But then I was more behind... and then it would take more time... and then I had to wait til I had big chunks of time.... and then it was longer and would take even more time... until, I was ONE YEAR behind. I am so not kidding. ONE YEAR behind in my quicken work.

For ONE YEAR that sucked joy from my soul.

Now, granted, that is a personal flaw. I am not good at time management. I am most assuredly a paralyzed discouraged perfectionist that can find things to do in 20 or 30 minute chunks instead of accomplishing what I SHOULD be doing. Acknowledgement is the first step in recovery, right? I'm working on making better choices.

But the point of all this, if you've even made it this far, is that I am coming into awareness of how much these "tasks" of life, that this phase of life do not always lend themselves to providing COMPLETION, suck joy from me.

If I do not get the laundry done, I feel burdened.
If I do not get the dishwasher unloaded, I feel like I have a tally mark against me.
If I did not get a floor vacuumed, swept or mopped, I have failed.
If I didn't get these photos that I shot for free edited, I have failed.
I didn't get this done today....
This task took so much longer than I expected.....

I feel as if the stamp FAILURE FAILURE FAILURE is placed in red on my forehead, and everyone, everywhere I go, can see it.

Day after day after day is marked failure. For there are not enough hours to do all the things I want to do. all the things I need to do. all the things I've committed to do. I don't have enough hours to please me, to please the kids, to please Shawn, to please my role as manager of the house (what on EARTH do you even CALL that?), to please all the places outside of my home that I've committed my services. And I walk around feeling not enough.

A few months ago, I started pulling back on commitments. It felt awful and wonderful simultaneously. It felt like a quitter to say "I can't work on this anymore". I'm NOT a quitter. I know in my head that I'm choosing yes to my family (and my sanity), but in my heart it feels like QUITTER. It's HARD to say no to people. It's really, really hard.

Our family functions as a team.  As the children have aged and grown in abilities, they now have things they are responsible for that lessen the load on me as mother and homemaker.  Shawn is an extraordinary helper with initiative. I don't have to ask him to help - he sees what's left to do and dives in head first.  It's not at all that some oppressive amount is placed on me.  That isn't the point at all.  Even with pulling back from commitments, even with help from my family, I still feel overwhelmed. Too much to do, and every day just heaps more onto the burden pile and I feel like I will never, ever shovel my way out.

There is something in me that expects too much, and beats myself up for the lack of achievement.  Every day.

I don't know what the answer is. I don't know WHY I chose to write this all down and share it here. Perhaps God is wanting to whisper to your hearts, as He is mine, that I will never be enough, and that is okay. That He is enough, and that is all I need. That this inner stamp of FAILURE, that I do believe is Satan's whispers, can drive me to seek Him more... instead of feel more and more discouraged.

Managing the home and caring for them HAS to happen and that is MY job. I don't get to drive away to work and leave it there. My job constantly surrounds me and echoes of things left unfinished reverberate into me, assaulting my perfectionism, whispering I am not enough. Sometimes I long for that sense of leaving, having a place to accomplish tasks, and then leave there to return home. That's how yesterday felt. I came home, to my HAVEN, and there were no pressures placed on my soul. I was free to sit and enjoy, sans guilt. Perhaps it is just a mere shift in my attitude. Perhaps it is more of a saying no to all other commitments. Perhaps is is ever more of a dependency on God to work through my weak, weak self.  Am I striving still?  Perhaps it is more self discipline to overcome the flaws of my personality that make it difficult to start tasks I know I cannot finish at that time.

But I've tasted the levity of the unburdened life... and I want to feel it more.

I shot these with my Nikon D800
Nikon 85mm f1.8
Nikon 50mm 1.4D
Sigma 30mm f1.4