These types of posts are always hard for me to write. I stare at the screen, watch the cursor blink for a few seconds and I wonder if I really want to start typing. For me, writing things out makes them real, makes them tangible, makes them permanent. Once I write it, I can't go back. It's just there. But that's where I am. I'm at this point where I have to look at myself, my life, and my relationships and ask, "What am I missing?" And the answer is a lot.
I am a hardworking and driven escapist. I see what I want, I go after what I want, and everything else is just something I need to get through to achieve my ultimate goal. But when things get hard and don't go as planned, I escape. I've always been that way. When I was younger, I escaped to my books or my journals or my riveting imagination. Now that I'm older, when things get hard I escape to my phone. Unquestionably. It is my escape through and through. And when I'm finished distracting myself from confronting and dealing with whatever's going on, I jump back in to working towards achieving my goal, whatever it might be that day.
Motherhood is one of those things I tend to look at as something I need to just get through. The days get harder when my priorities are out of whack and for a long time now, they have been. I want to write, I want to provide for my family, I want to be a speaker, an author. I want to inspire women and help them be better wives, better mothers, better friends. I want to be a person in the world and make a difference, I want to make the love of Christ tangible and the truth of His word practical, and I want to get out of debt so stinking bad. Those are my goals and my children distract from them. My marriage distracts from them. My laundry, my dishes, my floors, my bathroom, they all distract me from my goals.
Last night, I was taking a much deserved bath after a long day of cleaning, shampooing carpets and parenting. Emery was already in bed for the night, Jonah was watching Curious George Boofest, Zach was at a weekly Dale Carnegie course that he has to attend for work, and the house was quiet so I seized my opportunity. I filled the bath up with hot water and bubbles and tea tree oil, grabbed a book and ... ahhhhhh. So nice. It lasted about 10 minutes and then Jonah was right next to me. Pooping. Aw yea. Just what my peaceful bath needed, right? I put my book down and was getting ready to hop out of the bath when Jonah flushed the toilet and sat down next the tub with a bag of marshmallows that appeared out of nowhere. He said, "So. Did you have a good day, mom?"
And then we talked. About nothing and about everything and we ate marshmallows while I got all pruny and it was so sweet. My typical night time routine is to let him play quietly with his toys while I clean up, do some writing, or something else that doesn't involve directly interacting with him. But last night, that bag of marshmallows shifted everything into perspective. HE is my goal, my life, my biggest calling. Why do I so often let my selfish desires cloud up this incredible gift of motherhood?
And so we read books. I told him we'd read three, but I think we'd read 6 or 7 before we called it a night. While reading the last book, we were snuggled up so close that he felt the baby kick his elbow. He looked up at me and said, "What was that??" When I told him it was the baby in my belly, he started giggling uncontrollably and put his hand under my shirt and we waited for the baby to kick again. And then again. And then again. And every time, Jonah would lose himself in a fit of giggles. "Is she saying hi, mom?" (he's convinced the baby is a girl) "Is she saying, 'hey big brother!'?" As he was giggling and we were trying to finish the story I thought to myself, "Is this what I'm missing? Is this what I'm saying no to when I say yes to my distractions?"
What are your yes's costing you? Have you stepped out of yourself long enough to even know the answer to that question? I know I hadn't. In a long time. Maybe the pursuit of your "calling" is leaving the ones you love in the dust. Maybe your dreamlining and to-do lists are ruining your social life, and you don't even know it yet. Maybe you've let yourself go, stopped taking care of yourself, forgotten completely who you were before you filled up your time with ... what? I don't know. For me it's my pursuit of my dreams, but for you it might be something totally different. Maybe being a mom is just a lot harder than you thought it would be, so you escape. You just get through it. Maybe your frustration with the lack of change in your ministry is causing you to retreat and give up and self medicate instead of pressing through and being the change. Whatever your story, step away, look at your situation and ask yourself, "What am I missing?"
As I was walking Jonah to his bed last night, he asked me if I wanted to lay with him for a few minutes. That's a habit we broke a while ago because he was starting to become dependent on us to fall asleep. But every now and then, Zach will cave (he's a sucker for a snuggle) and lay with Jonah until he falls asleep. I don't do that. I have things to do at night. But last night, I said yes and we both crawled into his little toddler bed and snuggled up underneath his "brown blanket" (his lovey, if you will). We prayed for his cousin Charlie who's getting his tonsils out in a few days. We prayed that God would help us find a new house and that Jesus would make us strong and brave. And then Jonah told me that if the foot clan came, he would fight them off and protect me and Emery and the new baby because he's a big strong brother. And then he dozed off with is face as close to mine as he could possibly get it (something that would usually annoy the hec out of me) and he blinked his little eyelashes on my forehead and I shed a little tear and whispered, "I'm sorry."
This. This is what I'm missing. This is what I'm too busy for. This is what I've been distracting myself from. How did I get so far of course? I still have my dreams and the things that I feel I'm called and equipped to do, but the second those things start messing up my ultimate calling, they're just things. They're not important anymore. They pale in comparison. My marriage and my motherhood are my ultimate callings and I don't want to mess them up. It'd be so easy to.
So, mamas, friends, fellow dreamers, escapists, entrepreneurs, and talented creatives, I challenge you to put on your perspective glasses and see what comes into focus.
What are you missing friends? Go get it.