Aftermath

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I’m tired.

I went to the amazing and overwhelming Allume conference this past weekend and filled my tank, so to speak.  I came home on Sunday with an afterglow that felt like it surely must be visible to anyone who looked my general direction.  (I’ve got an Allume post planned for another day.)

And yet, already I’m tired.

The day to day drudgery of school-work-activities-bath-bed is draining. My husband’s current job situation means that I handle the homefront on my own Monday through Friday, which means I get the kids to and from school and activities, and also attempt to keep a handle on homework and housework.  I seem to be losing my grip.

I just averted a level 5 meltdown from the 9 year old and I’m still not sure it’s not going to come back and haunt me.

There are ants on my kitchen floor and I have no idea where they came from.

The 12 year old is complaining of mouth pain from an adjustment to her braces yesterday and needs some pain reliever. (See photo above.  It’s her own fault for playing with my iPhone.)

The kitchen is a wreck, the groceries need to be put away and the dryer just reminded me that there are clothes inside waiting to be folded.

I had all these wonderful plans for how I was going to pre-pack lunches and snacks at night to avoid rushing around in the morning and they’re all falling by the wayside, pushed aside in favor of the holy grail of parenthood:  sleep.

It’s 9:30 p.m. and I just realized I never ate dinner, although my kids and the cats did get fed.

Everywhere I turn, something or someone in my house is screaming for my attention.

And amidst all this, I long for time to write.  Time to read.  Time to just simply sit and think.

But there’s never enough time for everything, is there?  All there is available to us is 24 hours per day, and it’s up to us to steward it wisely.  I don’t think I’m doing that very well right now. 

So I do the same thing I usually do, which is to determine which fires need to be put out first and start there.  The time constraints mean that not everything gets done.

And I wonder what I’m teaching my children.  What life lessons are they learning when I run around, as we say, “like a chicken with its head cut off” all the time?  It’s certainly not patience, because there’s very little of that to go around when it’s time to leave the house in the morning and the book bags don’t make it into the van.  It’s not multi-tasking, because I always manage to drop at least one of the balls I’m attempting to juggle.  It’s definitely not efficiency, because I leave a LOT undone.

What I want is to be present for my kids.  To sit with them at breakfast and carry on a conversation.  I realize that I DO that sometimes.  Maybe not every day, but some days. 

I realize that sometimes I have just one of them in the van with me and we get to have a heart-to-heart conversation that we might not have if we were sitting at home.

What I want to teach them is to put the priority on relationship.  That, given the choice between sitting together on the couch watching Disney channel (don’t judge) vs. putting away the clean dishes from the dishwasher, most of the time I’m going to snuggle first and do dishes later.  That during their waking hours I won’t always dart like a bumblebee from task to task and leave them to their own devices.  That if we do the “have to’s” together we can have more time for the “want to’s”.

Something’s got to give and it can’t always be me, because when I’ve given all of me out to other things there’s nothing left for my family. 

Meanwhile, I’m going to bed.  Hopefully things will look better in the morning. They usually do.  And I’m so grateful that His mercies are new every morning, because I need mercy like I need air to breathe.  And sleep.  I need sleep.  Goodnight.

Today I’m joining up with the lively crew over at http://www.crystalstine.me for our weekly Behind The Scenes link up, where we tell the stories behind the photos we splash all over the ‘net.  Come on out and play with us!

 

 

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Five Minute Friday:

This?  This is the day I have waited for for over a year.  I’m sitting in a meeting room with 60-something of my closest friends and we are writing Five Minute Friday together.  If it gets any better than this I’m not sure I can handle it. 

So whether you are here at Allume or playing from home, let’s hear your best 5 minutes on the prompt.  You can find it at http://www.lisajobaker.com. 

Her hair stuck straight up from her head.  Her eyes looked off to the side, like she was missing the touch of someone just out of the camera reach.  Maybe she was because I loved her from the first moment I saw her picture.  I wanted to touch her and hold her and I could not.  The idea that my child was waiting for me on the other side of the word broke my heart because her family here already loved her and she did not know it.

It took months of paperwork and questions that felt incredibly intrusive.  It took months of notaries and apostilles and certifications.  It took six long weeks of travel arrangements and 15 long hours on an airplane across the ocean. It took nights in a hotel in a foreign land.  It took hours that felt like days and minutes that felt like hours, but in the space of a moment it happened:  we were together. 

Day 20: Fear of Success

This is the fraternal twin to Fear of Failure.  As Butch Jones, the University of Tennessee football coach, said recently, “Our players understand that the more you win, the more is at stake.”

Fear of success can keep me from doing my best because what if my blog starts getting attention?  What if one of my posts goes viral?  Then people might start sharing it and posting comments, and there might be some less-than-positive ones in there that might hurt my feelings.

What if people start subscribing to my blog because they saw my one really good post, the one that was my first and only home run, and now they expect that kind of quality content all the time?  And what if I can’t deliver and they leave me?  What if I can’t hit any more home runs and I just strike out all the time?  Oh, the pressure!

Or what if I write something really good and it’s kind of a fluke, and people start coming to my blog expecting to see good stuff all the time, and all they find is my old mediocre stuff?  What if they decide I’m a one-hit wonder, or worse, a fraud?  You write one good book and they expect you to always write best sellers.

Or what if I got all popular and people expected me to be a model Christian?  Nobody is perfect and I’m bound to screw up in some epic way and go down in flames.  Then what?  I’ve given Christianity a bad name by putting myself out there as a believer!

What if I was a “bigger” blogger and then I felt like I had to compete with some other well-known bloggers?  Because I’m kind of afraid I would.  Be competitive, that is.

What if people started following my blog?  They might actually expect me to write on a regular basis.  Then I wouldn’t be able to be lazy and do what I want when I want.  I might actually have to have some self-discipline.  And that’s no fun.

Maybe it’s just better to stay a “smaller” blogger, where I can fly under the radar and avoid disappointing my readers.  It’s a whole lot less pressure, and I don’t have to hold myself to such a high standard that I’m destined to fail.

You know, some days I think it might be nice to be popular and well known, but then there’s all that pressure to produce.  Well, I’m assuming the pressure is there because I think it would be for me.  Then I catch myself not daring to use a particular turn of phrase or write on a certain subject because it’s a little different and a little controversial, and so I’m both scared to fail and scared to succeed.

Yeah, I know there’s something a little weird about me.  It’s OK – I’ll own it.  🙂

Day 19: Fear of Failure

Fear is a powerful force.  You only have to look through the annals of history to find example on example of how fear can drive people to desperate measures.  It can also inspire otherwise sane and normal people to do some crazy things.  I know, because I am one of those aforementioned otherwise sane and normal people.  (Sane and normal may be pushing it a little, but hear me out.)

I consider it a relatively harmless form of OCD when I have to drive back by my house in the morning after I drop my daughter off at school because I am afraid that I left the garage door up.  (That drive-by happens more times than I care to mention, and all because one day I did leave the garage door up all day.)  I hold my daughter’s hand when we cross a parking lot because I’m afraid she could get hit by a car.  I wash my hands whenever I’ve touched shopping carts and bathroom doors in public places because I’m afraid of getting some infectious disease.  That’s not the kind of fear I’m talking about.

I mean the fear that robs me of blessings.  The fear that keeps me quiet when I should be speaking up.  The fear that tells me not to pick up the phone and call that person who just crossed my mind.  The fear that reminds me of all the times I’ve reached out and been rejected.  The fear that says I shouldn’t bother writing because no one really cares what I have to say.

It’s vicious, the voice that whispers in my ear sometimes.  Don’t write about that – people will think you’re judgmental.   Look at your stats – no one reads your blog.  Why bother?  Why go through all this effort for nothing?  It’s that fear – the fear that all of this is pointless and that I’m destined to fail – that makes me want to curl up in a ball and disappear.  What if I write my heart out, pour out my bare-souled self on these pages, and no one notices?  More than that, what if people DO read it and decide that I’m untalented, delusional and unworthy, and they turn away?  What if I toil away for years and never get any better at this than I am right now?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and maybe if I repeat it enough times I’ll finally absorb it:  I believe that my job is to write out of obedience to what I feel God has called me to do.  My job is to write, and I’m to leave the rest of it – the results – to Him.  I don’t believe I’m meant to spend my time perusing my stats and trying to plot ways to make my numbers “better”.  I don’t really think blogging success is measured by the number of followers I have or viral posts I’ve launched.  And yet there’s a nagging feeling that if I don’t reach a certain size audience I must be a failure, and such an attitude will sink my writing ship faster than the iceberg sank the Titanic.

Day 18: The Pinterest Rabbit Hole

Do you have a Pinterest account? If you don’t, take my advice and stay away.  Because unless you have an hour or two that would not be better spent doing something productive, you don’t even need to go near it.

Pinterest is dangerous in so many ways, not just in how it wastes my time.  It makes me want things I don’t need, makes me feel bad about the way I look, stirs up envy, makes me feel less-than in so many areas.  And yet I can’t stay away.  Because I need to make that salted caramel sauce for my coffee.  And I need to find some ideas for a new haircut.  Pinterest is great for those things because it’s a vast repository for ideas and the chance that someone, somewhere, has pinned the very site you need is very, very good.  But I’ve got to control myself when I’m on it.

Day 17: The House

Sheesh!  Only halfway through and I’m already three days behind.  It would have been nice if I could have worked Five Minute Friday into the 31 Days series but I’ve already used laundry. Although it takes up enough time that it would really qualify for two days or more. 

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(This is my vacuum cleaner on the couch.  Yes, I do vacuum my couch this way because the little hose thing doesn’t get all the cat hair off, and nothing ruins a nice outfit like a coating of cat fur. )

But let’s talk about housework.  I know, I know – no one wants to talk about housework but let’s just talk about how it highjacks my writing time.  I’ll be honest and admit that I will never win any awards for Cleanest House.  We’re not in danger of being shut down by the Health Inspector, but things like magazines and school communications tend to hang around long after they have exhausted their usefulness.  There is always, always, something that needs doing. 

I write on my laptop, sitting at my kitchen table, which in hindsight doesn’t seem like the smartest plan.  From my vantage point I can see all of the living room and breakfast area, and most of the kitchen.  I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat down to write and something catches my eye.  Oh, I think, I’ll just move that plate off the table and carry it to the kitchen.  Then it won’t distract me while I’m writing.  

Carrying the plate to the kitchen reminds me that the dishes in the dishwasher are clean and need to be put away so the dirty ones in the sink can take their place.  And then I notice that the dish towel beside the sink is ready for the laundry (there’s that laundry again!) so I walk it down the hall, where I notice that there are enough towels for a load, so I throw a detergent tab in there and start the washer.  At which point I have totally lost my writing mojo, unless of course I am planning to write a companion piece to If You Give A Mouse A Cookie:  If you give a Mom a dirty plate, she’s going to want to unload the dishwasher.  When she unloads the dishwasher, she’ll see that the dish towel is dirty, so she’ll take it to the laundry room…   

I am fully aware that I could have a more organized home and I’d spend less time on maintenance.  More importantly, I could have less stuff and I’d spend less time organizing it, and I am working on that – giving things to Goodwill by the bagsful.  But there is still more to be done.  Now excuse me, because I need to fold that load of laundry on my bed…