Slow…Down…………….

 

I get an e-mail newsletter from The Confident Mom, and actually haven’t taken a lot of time to read it since I signed up for it, quite awhile ago.

A couple of the items on the sidebar caught my eye the other day, though. These were from blog entries:

“Confessions of a Crabby, Worn Out Mom”

“Are You Over-Committed?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about these issues lately…that maybe I have piled a little too much on my plate, here and there. Some days I feel that I have very few responsibilities, because after all, I’m basically a stay-at-home mom (minus teaching now and then.) But any empty slot in one’s schedule just begs to be filled, so there is always something going on in our lives, and there is always more that can be done. But, every time in the past, when I’ve taken on too much, I end up getting sick, and burning out. And, that was before I was in my current state in life.

I really felt a deep appreciation for the “Confessions…” blog entry from Susan; it made me feel so much more “normal.” I have realized one thing about myself over the past few years that if I try to fight, I cause insanity–in myself and in my family: I NEED time to myself, fairly regularly, to re-charge. I am a serious introvert, and if I don’t respect that fact about myself, things go awry every time.

There’s where the second article struck a chord for me. She asks, “Does today’s young mom see her busy schedule as badge of honor?” She relates it to pride, which I totally agree with. She says we like hearing “I don’t know how you do it all.” Sometimes this is definitely true. I’m not the kind of person that usually actually hears this, but I can relate to the pressure of HAVING to do it all, and the hope that we are pulling it off.

Most of the time, that “ALL” in “how you do it all” is helping others. Sometimes it’s just plain busy work. And sometimes, it is things we really need “To Do.” Sometimes it’s entire days like that–just crammed with “To Do’s.” But when I start seeing too many days that are nothing but one To Do after another, I know I’m starting to get into dangerous waters, and better come back in. And as the mom, that’s my responsibility. I absolutely have to tell myself over and over not to feel guilty about taking time to myself, and “feeding” myself, in ways other than just the physical.

I’m planning on trying something really radical, for me, this year. I don’t really know of officially designated “Spring Resolutions,” but it seems like a good time, and kind of like “Spring Cleaning,” it’s a good time to start over with a few things. Plus the penitential season of Lent gave me good time for pause in re-evaluating myself, but didn’t quite culminate in a battle plan; I think that’s where I’ve come to now, in the season of Easter. It all seems to make some sort of sense. (Or, maybe it’s just Spring Fever–at any rate, I’ll take it.) But back to the radical plan: I am thinking about trying a little time off scheduled in on a regular basis–now–even though I’m not actually burnt out, and am not feeling sick. In fact, I feel pretty good, and have really been getting a lot done lately; but it has this strange foreboding to it. Have I reached a point of maturity that I can admit I would be even more effective if I engaged in some purposeful leisure? I hope so.

That statement, in itself, brings up an ironic point: I’ve had the book Leisure: the Basis of Culture, by Josef Pieper, on my Wish List since Christmas of 2008. A friend of mine had told me about the “classical” definition of leisure, and it was pretty intriguing. Especially since it dovetails nicely with my personality. Apparently the Ancients thought of leisure more as a time for quiet study and contemplation, generally in a solitary fashion. More like what we are doing when we are at Eucharistic Adoration.

Here are a few excerpts from product descriptions for the book: 1

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure — a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture…

He maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity; unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture – and ourselves.

So the irony: What am I waiting for? Why haven’t I gotten this book yet?2 I sure can put plenty of other things on my To Do list…why am I not taking the time to do THIS–read a book on the necessity of leisure–for MYSELF?

Well, we stay-at-home moms are not immune to the “bourgeois world of total labor” either. In fact, as women, in general, we are naturally good at multi-tasking, so it seems like we tell ourselves that it only follows that we “should” try to do as much work as possible, (for the good of our families, right?) I think I am a prime example of the combination of the “total labor state” mentality, and the “good Catholic woman/mom” mentality. This makes for a really ugly, overtired, specimen of a guilt-ridden, perpetually driven, shadow of a human being.

What in the world am I pushing myself for? What am I trying so hard to accomplish? I think if I spent more time trying to examine my true purpose in life, I could probably accomplish it–and with greater efficiency! At any rate, as I said, if I don’t take some “time out,” for me now and then, the machine comes to a grinding halt, anyway. And then, it takes a lot longer to repair.

Awhile back, I “confessed” my guilty feelings to the friend I’d referred to above, about taking time out to read, (referring to my love of learning, and my looooong reading list,) even though I have tons of housework and plenty of other things to do. This is what he sent back: “Never feel guilty about the pure contemplation of truth–of course, in moderation according to your state in life. That guilt is not holy–these are temptations.”

It’s taken me awhile, but lately I’ve been trying to “sneak” in more time, in Adoration, meditation, contemplation, journaling, and of course, just plain reading/studying. Still feel that I am “sneaking” it, away from my duties to WORK, WORK, WORK; but I’m getting better. And what a difference it makes! Some days, I actually almost feel human, instead of simply like a (malfunctioning) machine.

I haven’t quite given up on my dream of somehow being made into a “hu-bot,” but I am getting closer and closer to accepting my humanity for what it is, with all its limitations. I’m also getting better at seeing past the limitations and more toward the joys of humanity…when I actually allow myself enough time to (re)discover them. And I am especially blessed: my 3½ year old son keeps me informed better than any other source ever could, of just how NEAT it is to be alive, to work our bodies, use our brains, and play–the way God intended us to do in our lives here on earth!

 

❦                                        ❦                                        ❦

 

 

1 There are three print versions of the book, an updated paperback printed in 2009, from Ignatius Press, one printed 1998, with an Introduction by Roger Scruton, by St. Augustine’s Press; and the 1999 hardcover reprint of the 1952 original, with Introduction by T. S. Eliot, by Liberty Fund Inc. Of course, they are also available on Amazon.com, and probably through many other sellers.

2 Actually, in my search for the book, I found a digital copy, free, and downloaded that, at the Internet Archive. (So, now I do have the book…)

 

❦                                        ❦                                        ❦

 

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