“Mommy, when are we going to start back to school? I’m bored!” I really wanted to roll with laughter at my 7 year old’s impatient, slightly whiny tone.
You know those moments when you look at your children and you can see yourself staring back at you? This was one of those moments for me.
My oldest daughter is just like me; she hates the slowness of summer.
I long for August…
When I was growing up, I hated the summer months. I dreaded the arrival of June 1st and longed for the beginning of August, when I would be busy with a new school year learning new things.
Summers were hot and long and boring. Life happened in the busyness of incoming autumn; the excitement of the school supply list, the joy of fresh notebooks and sharpened pencils. Yes, I was, and still am, a terribly geeky person; my love of new office supplies has long been the subject of jokes among those who know me well.
And even as an adult, I find that the approach of the summer months fills me with dread and, worse yet, a kind of summer depression. I love being busy. Better yet, I NEED to be busy. I am the kind of person who thrives in high-stress situations when my time is short and my to-do list is a mile long.
That’s also the world I grew up in, where success is measured entirely by one’s accomplishments. I have spent most of my life running at a breakneck pace, simply because society has told me that my value as a person is intrinsically linked to how busy I am. Or how busy I appear to be.
A Kind of Addiction
As a mom, that pressure to be constantly busy and productive has only increased. My children should have non-stop play dates, engaging Pinterest-style craft projects, constant outings and field trips. They should be involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible so they can “experience everything.”
One glance at my Facebook page and I begin to feel terribly inadequate about my own social activities calendar. Doubts scream in my head; I’m not doing enough! My children are missing out! I should be doing all these fun things that I see all these other moms doing! I’m failing my children!
And yet, as much as I like to be busy, why is my favorite time of day after the kids are all in bed and I can sit and drink in the stillness? Why do I long for a few quiet moments in the midst of the craziness of life? Why do I feel like the only time I’m fully recharged is after spending some quiet time alone?
Could it be that my busyness is actually a kind of addiction, like too much caffeine or sugar or too much social media? Could it be that the busyness I crave and think I enjoy is actually not good for me at all?
A Huge To-Do List?
God speaks to us in moments of silence, when we quiet ourselves and we still our constant requests for our own needs and wants. Quite frankly, God needs us to sit down and shut up and listen to Him once in a while.
But if we are constantly busy and constantly running from activity to errand to activity, how will we ever hear God over the clamor of our own busyness? I fall prey to this constant busyness all the time, and when I do, my prayer life is the first thing that suffers from neglect. And with it, my peace of mind.
I have to look at this from another perspective: do I want my family to be running constantly without a moment’s reprieve from scheduled activities? Isn’t that why I began homeschooling in the first place? Do I want my kids to grow up without knowing the value of stillness, of a lazy day spent laying in the grass, watching the clouds roll by?
What am I teaching my children about the value of their time here on earth if I never truly enjoy mine because of all my rushing around? Do I want my kids to grow up constantly hearing me complain about being tired because my to-do list is ridiculously and unrealistically long?
Relishing the Stillness
The answer is no. I want my kids to learn to enjoy their busy days but also to understand the value of sitting still and just being in the quiet. I don’t want to raise kids who need to be endlessly and constantly entertained. And the only way they will learn these lessons is if I model those behaviors in my own life.
I want to relish my moments of stillness and appreciate them, so that the rest of my moments are spent happily and joyfully, not begrudgingly, as I plow through another exciting and challenging day.
I want to be still and shut up, so I can truly hear my Father, because this job that He has blessed me with is a tough one, and I desperately need His help. Only spending time with Him can fully recharge me and equip me to thrive in my roles as wife and mother.
So this summer, I’ve added a new task to my to-do list: to learn to embrace the lazy days of summer instead of wishing them away; to enjoy our lighter-than-normal schedule instead of resenting it.
The time God has given me on this earth is precious, the busy moments and quiet ones alike.