Saturday, July 7, 2012


2 : full of activity : bustling

How busy are you?  Is your schedule crammed with one meeting after another, activities for your children, tasks that must be done?  Is coordinating your family calendar an Olympic event?  Do you look at what's coming in the next week and sigh at the lack of open space on your calendar, in your life, for your soul?

I will freely confess that am busier than I would like to be this summer.  I will also say that I don't believe my children are over-scheduled - I am the one that is over-scheduled.  They are doing the things they need to do (speech therapy) and love to do (dance, summer camp, piano).  But allowing them to be who they are and grow in their gifts does cost me something.

Earlier this week, my husband send me a link to an article called The 'Busy' Trap.  I wish you could have seen me reading it.  I was sitting in my van, waiting for A to come out of ballet (which is funny enough - that this is when I have time to read an article) and I was nodding along the entire time.  I do not value busy-ness.  I don't want it in my life, but it creeps in anyway.  I'm not someone who is proud of how busy our schedule is.  I'm not trying to raise overachievers.  I just want my daughters to be able to pursue the things they care about.

I have friends who are better at saying "No." Friends who manage to not have after school activities or summers littered with camp one week, travel the next week and ballet sprinkled here and there throughout.  I respect them for having good boundaries.  I just don't know how to water their little souls without letting them do what they love.  I would feel selfish to tell A that she can't dance this summer because I need a break from driving her to and fro.  Yet perhaps the key (as always) lies in knowing my children.

Last week, I reminded B on Wednesday night that she had piano the next day.  She began panicking.  "I told Ms. G that I would have Hey, Jude down pat by the next lesson and I haven't practiced at all!"  I reminded her that we had left for Wisconsin straight after her lesson and that we had only been home for 24 hours.  That did not assuage her concerns.  She climbed out of bed and went to practice the song through a time or two.  I offered to talk with her piano teacher and explain.  That helped a bit.  That night, I realized that B has been taking piano for about 18 months and has never had a serious break.

So the next day I asked her if she wanted to take the rest of July off of piano.  Somewhat to my surprise, she said "Yes" without little hesitation.  Of my children, B is the one who not only craves, but is vocal about her desire for down time.  B is what A has christened a mid-trovert.  While my children haven't officially taken the Myers-Briggs test, I can tell you with absolute certainty that A is an introvert and K as classic extrovert.  B straddles these extremes.  She wants to be around people, but needs time to herself.  This leaves my task as a mother of three a complicated one - they each need different amounts, levels and types of interaction to feel happy and content.

Where do my own needs come in?  As an introvert, I definitely need down time as much as B does.  In my ideal world, a day includes time for me to pray, read and rest.  It doesn't have to be a ton of time, but a few days that are packed too full leave me feeling like I am running on fumes.

I've been pondering the best way to begin our school year and what my expectations should be for next year.  It will be my first time homeschooling all three of my children and I think that will be challenging, at least for a while (and perhaps for the entire year).  But as I've prayed and imagined the year, I know that I want to find time and space for us each to be who we are.  We are all excited about the Olympics, so we will start our year with a unit study of the 2012 London games.  We did a field trip each Wednesday of Lent and loved celebrating spring's arrival with a short day midweek and time at some of our favorite Nashville places.

My goal? To be busy only with the things that matter.  Finishing school by 11:45 on Wednesdays required some pushing and pressing.  It felt busy in the moment.  But those field trip afternoons spent walking in the gardens or exploring the solar system or gazing at art felt unhurried and nourishing.  I'm not sure it's possible for me to parent the way I want to parent and not be busy.  What I can do is consistently stop and assess whether we are busy in a good way (doing things we love and need) or busy in a bad way (doing things everyone else is doing).

My home and my calendar may be filled with activity and bustling.  But I want to leave room for my heart to be quiet, still and present.

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