I have noticed something about myself. When my family schedule gets too full, I turn into a manager instead of a mother.
When I have an ever-growing to-do list and this child needs to be here and that child needs to go there and this one needs to finish homework and that other one needs his hair cut and this child needs a stack of permission slips signed, I zap into efficient manager-mode. I make lists. I plot everything on the calendar. And then I move people from one place to the other, one task to the other, and one-by-one, we mark things off the lists. And then we go to bed and do it again the next day.
Sometimes, if I mark enough things off the lists and the children get where they need to be on time and everyone is relatively clean and fed, then I consider my day a success. I feel like Wonder Woman.
When we get into the groove of a schedule or routine, I begin to feel like I’m overseeing an assembly line of productivity. And in that efficiency, I forget that, as a mother, I’m not about productivity; I’m about relationships.
The thing is – relationships and nurturing and loving cannot be measured in the same way that getting to soccer practice on time or making a menu and buying groceries can be measured. Nurturing my children and cultivating authentic relationships with them is so much more than marking items off a to-do list and doing it all again the next day with a different to-do list. When it comes to nurturing and forming strong bonds, I definitely don’t see the immediate results I see when I finish making a favorite pasta dish, then everyone eats it and tells me it was delicious. Cultivating authentic relationships with my children is not an instant gratification or a one-and-done kind of thing. Oh that it were!
Right now, there’t not a lot that can be done about our busy schedule. And the activities we’re doing are not bad or wrong or even too much. I don’t believe the schedule needs to change. I think my heart needs to change. I need to shift my focus from tasks on the list and activities on the calendar to building relationships, having conversations, listening, laughing, connecting. I need to have discernment about when to set aside the lists and just sit and snuggle or sip iced tea and listen, fully present.
Accomplishing the day’s tasks and going to all the events on the calendar isn’t what makes me Wonder Woman. Stealing moments in the day to connect with my children, to look them in the eye when they talk, to compliment them, to enjoy them — that makes me Wonder Woman to my kids. Shifting my focus and my attitude so that we accomplish the tasks and get to the activities and appointments in a kinder, gentler, sweeter way — that makes me Wonder Woman to my kids.
What’s the Jenn-Message version of 1 Corinthians say? I can make sure the chores get done and the homework is finished, but if I don’t have love, I’m a clanging cymbal of a nagging mom. I can get kids to soccer practice on time and pick up from diving practice on time and pack the chairs and snacks for the weekend game, but if I don’t have love, I’m nothing. I can earn a little paycheck and make a menu and grocery lists to save money and cut my kids’ hair to save more money and volunteer my time to help at school or teach at church, but if I don’t have love, I gain nothing. I can be efficient and task-oriented and and make lists and charts, but if I don’t have love, I’m doing it all for nothing.
I’m not a manager. I’m not all about productivity and efficiency. I’m a mom. I’m supposed to be about gently and tenderly tending my children, knowing them, loving them, feeding their souls. My main thing is not finishing all the to-do lists. My main thing is nurturing my kiddos. Even in the midst of busy schedules, I can do the main thing.
What’s your main thing? What are you all about? Are you doing it?