I felt like I was standing in the intersection of a 4 way stop. I’d been going along feeling like things were fine, managing it all until I found myself in the midst of a collision. You know how it is. One day I was handling things and then I wasn’t. I’d become the victim of my own enthusiasm and tendency to overcommit. Honestly, I thought I was handling it all until everything, including me, came apart at the seams. I was in desperate need of a summer reboot.
I’d reached a point where I couldn’t recall the last date night with my husband and (as I am prone to do) felt myself withdrawing as I tried to keep a grip on everything. I was constantly fighting the urge to just sit and hold my girls and all they really wanted was for Momma to get up and play.
My weight had crept up over the last several months and my eczema was out of control. My quiet time, my prayer time, my time in the Word was suffering too.
There was just too much in need of being done. Too many roles, too many commitments, too many expectations from others and myself. And so, I purposed (again) to start saying “no.” I decided then that I couldn’t afford mentally and physically to do every book launch, that I’d back away from my weekly blogging and that I’d only run if I really, really felt like it. (Or if a bear was chasing me.) Choosing to walk seemed symbolic of my choice, my need, to slow things down. I didn’t want to spend the whole summer following a training plan or catch myself literally racing against my own times and expectations.
I decided to make an investment in myself physically and emotionally. I saw a nutritionist and counselor to talk about my pattern of eating when stressed and worked through an amazing book on intuitive eating. I also sought additional help and someone to hold me accountable as I work to be a healthier version of me.
But, in the meantime, I again started making other commitments to do this and to do that. Just like, as quickly as I’d started it, I’d broken my fast from “more”.
If the scheduling conflicts weren’t enough to set off red flags, then things, big things, came up at work. For seemingly no reason I began getting hives. Right in the middle of the work day, in my climate controlled office, things began to get more than a little uncomfortable. My hands would become red, hot and itchy. The same sensations started to spread to my feet, ears and neck. Later they marked my forearms. In the midst of what I’m sure were stress induced hive attacks I realized I was a bit of a mess.Whether or not we admit it, the stress in our lives has a way of making itself known. #motherhood matters Click To Tweet
The Same Song and Dance
You’ve heard this song and dance from me before. Sadly, it’s the lesson I seem to need over, and over again. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out I am humbled into realizing I don’t. Maybe it’s a good thing, because heaven help me if I ever get to the point of thinking I can handle all of this on my own.
I also know that this experience, this struggle with finding the right rhythm is not unique to me. We mommas, especially those of a certain personality, often don’t know how to say “when” or identify when “enough is enough.” We keep pushing till our bodies betray us. We keep pushing because that’s just how we roll.
You know that big wheel keep on turning
Proud Mary keep on burning
And we’re rolling, rolling, rolling, yeah
Rolling on the river.
Tina Turner, Proud Mary
Sometimes we fail to realize when our roll has deteriorated. When it resembles something more like a growing snowball barreling down a steep mountainside – a peril to anyone and anything in it’s path.Momma, we need to slow our roll if we want to avoid collateral damage. #MotherhoodMatters Click To Tweet
Yes, there is work to do and gardens to tend. There are end of year parties, play dates and summer camps – all beckoning us into the road warrior version of our self. We pile into our minivans and SUVs dragging soccer equipment, pool floats and a cooler, fueled by a grande cold brew. And, while the coffee is good, it is our guilt, our sense of duty and our work ethic that keeps us motivated.
There is a better way and every so often we just might have to fight our way back to it. My friend you must choose to invest in the care and keeping of you When we neglect to do so, the risk isn’t that the work that won’t get done when we come apart at the seams. Rather, the risk is the collateral damage felt by those most important in our lives.You cannot be the best wife and mother God created you to be if you're relying on your own strength and not His. #MotherhoodMatters Click To Tweet
I share all this know thing that I am preaching to myself as much to you. Almost two hours ago I left my kids at my in-laws condo and headed to the pool for “Adult-Only” lap swim. At just after 9:00 am I made my way into the pool area and took in the empty lounge chairs and silence. It was a sight to behold. I jumped into the water, warmed from yesterday’s sun, and swam a few leisurely laps. And then, after pulling myself out of the water and onto a lounger, I began to write the old fashioned way – with pen and paper. Periodically I’d glance at my phone and feel a twinge of guilt that I’d been gone to long.
But, I need this. I need more days like this.
So do you.
I will start over. I will cut back my “yes” responses. I will be posting with less frequency and without feeling guilty. I will sit on invitations as well as expectations and weigh them out before responding. I will stop sacrificing quiet time on the alter of my “to do list”. I won’t work so hard to check off the boxes and instead consider more often tossing them out all together.
I am going to play with my girls and date my husband. I am going to get lost in a novel or four or more. I am going to walk my dog after the girls are in bed and listen to the frogs and other nighttime noises. I will enjoy coffee or margaritas or maybe both with my friends. I am going to sends and rather than plan things to do I will simply sit on my porch and be. I am going to linger over meals and conversations. I am certainly going to spend more time in the sun, warming myself from the outside in.
God knows it’s not easy to slow down, and I wonder the lesson He has for me in all this. An object in motion tends to want to stay in motion – I am certainly inclined that way. If you struggle with this same tension here are a few tips to help you plan for your own slow down.
5 Tips for a Summer Reboot
- Take some time to look at your already crammed calendar. Sit thoughtfully and pray when might be a good time to “Stop” adding anything more to it for the summer. Of course, we always want to leave room for the Holy Spirit to add to your days but purpose to be more disciplined and prepare for your cut off day. If you haven’t reached it already, the last day of school marks a notable shift and change in schedule. This might be a good time to set a new pace for you and your family.
- Think about what it is you haven’t done in a while that you really enjoy? Reading a book for no purpose other than enjoyment? Going to a movie? A day at the pool or beach? Figure out what’s missing and what it would look like in it’s most ideal sense. Now, plan a day to incorporate these good and fun things back into your life. Pencil in a trip to the library, invite a friend to a movie – take a cooking class!
- Date your husband. FB message that babysitter with a couple of days in advance, find one you can both agree on and the put it on the calendar. Make reservations, borrow a kayak, go for a ride – do something, do anything to get back into a date night rhythm with your spouse.
- Have fun with the kids. What do your kids always ask you to do that never seems to happen. Whether it’s a game night, tea party or ice cream for dinner make it a night of “Yes” for them. And, do so enthusiastically, be fully present and don’t worry about moving on to that next task.
- At the end of each the summer months stop and ask yourself how you’re really doing with this reboot. There will always be room for improvement so don’t beat yourself up too much.
Here’s the truth friend. I know that God did not create us to live our own lives too busy for Him or His people. He calls us to love Him and to love them. It’s hard to live out that love when we are so busy; moving from one thing to the next. In order to live up to the calling He has given us we need to focus on living our lives in such a way that we are able to be the best version of the person He created us to be.
Isn’t it time to plan your summer reboot?