When we see a mum doing well with her life – we make an assumption – how does she do it all?
It is the basis of a lie that we then build our life on – she can do it all, why can’t I? She’s got it together, I don’t! This is “stinkin’ thinkin’”. It isn’t based on truth. The truth is: I can’t do it all – I have to choose what is important to me and do that well.
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As I look back over my years of parenting and homeschooling, I can list a few things that I ‘let go’ for the sake of other priorities. But remember, what I let go and what you should let go are two completely different things.
I let go home baked goodies. This may not sound like a biggie, but I enjoy cooking, and I envisaged my kids enjoying home baked cookies. Like many of these assumptions we make they are built on what we imagine as ideal, but sometimes life shakes up our ideals. When Naomi was sick, home baking went out the window. Josh and Jess developed a taste for store-bought biscuits. When I realised they reached for a store bought choc chip cookie, instead of homemade ones I was horrified! But really it is not important – just my pride!
I let go fancy cooking. Like I said, I enjoy cooking. I enjoy trying new recipes. But with the pressures of family life, little kids, sick kid, hubby who works away from home – simple, tried and true were the types of recipes I looked for. I had to weigh up the time it took for me to cook a new recipe with the other things I could be doing. I chose other things. Like I said, the things I let go may not be the things you let go – I have a friend who cooks for her relaxation, she is even able to relax and refresh if her kids are in the kitchen with her! She increased her cooking as she added children to her family, I decreased.
I let go of women’s Bible study but I kept my prayer triplet. One was more flexible than the other, one fitted my current lifestyle more than the other. I couldn’t do them both, I made a choice. But I really missed the Bible study – for the first few years of homeschooling this is the one thing that I missed.
I let go of a perfect home. I love homemaking. Before kids I read, even studied, the art of homemaking. But once kids came along, once we started homeschooling, I decided I had this much time to give to my home, and in that time I would train my children to look after the home. The rest happens when and if I have more time. I know my windows aren’t as clean as they used to be, my cupboards need sorting, and there are cobwebs on cobwebs in some places in my house. But – the bits that are important to me, they are maintained daily, weekly or monthly. We have a purpose for our home, and I make sure that the home is kept in such a way to meet that purpose – not any other ideal I may have once had (though to be honest, sometimes I still do wish for that ideal).
I let sewing go. Initially when we first started homeschooling, Nomi was still having pain issues, Daniel was a baby and Pete worked away from home. There was no time for sewing. And yet I need a creative project – creativity is what rejuvenates me. I didn’t intentionally give sewing a miss, I simply didn’t have time for it, my creative time and energies were focused on teaching my young children: creating games, art activities, and teaching interesting things to them in interesting ways. A little further down the track I picked up scrapbooking – I wasn’t giving so much to the lesson planning and there was time and energy left for another creative pursuit. But I couldn’t do both sewing and scrapbooking. I had to make a choice. Later on I picked up writing. I could have picked up sewing. But I made a choice. I do have time to do the things that I love, I just can’t do them all – I have to make a choice.
I let go of possibilities. Opportunities are always knocking at the door. I could do this, I could do that. If only. Someone needs to do it – it could be me! But there are seasons in my life and I have decided, very intentionally, to live within those seasons. I can only take on so much – and sometimes I have taken on too much – and my priorities suffer. That all being said, there are many opportunities that I have picked up – but always keeping in mind how that is affecting my family and my responsibilities within the family.
So though I have let go of some things I have also gained much. In fact, my life has not suffered by letting these things go. We still eat well, I have friendships with women who love and encourage me, my home often welcomes people in and God has opened doors for me to encourage others even within the season I am in.
I see this idea of ‘letting things go’ very much as a seasonal thing. I let something go so I can focus on something else. It isn’t about letting it go and being left with nothing. I let one thing slide, so I can focus on something else. What I choose to focus on is based on what is important – what is important to me, what is important to Peter, what is important to the direction we want for our family. My choices have to be real – how much time and energy do I have, and what can be done with what I have and where I’m at. We have to know what our goals and objectives are, and how we are going to walk towards them. And we need to have the confidence that what we want in life, is important enough to make sacrifices for in our life.
The little maxim that goes: When I say Yes to one thing, I’m saying No to something else – is so true. I have had to choose what I say yes to. I haven’t said yes to everything, some things have had to be put aside for another day. I don’t do it all (no one can) instead I make a choice to do what needs to be done, and try and do that well.
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