Recently, my (fantastically wise and nurturing) mentor has been discussing the idea of simplicity. Whittling down the busyness. Removing the distractions in order to make room for the priorities. Or as it was stated in the Harvard Business Review (and discussed in my post last January) ‘the disciplined pursuit of less.’
This is where the stay-at-home-mother in me laughs. Scoffs, actually.
Simplicity? My life is anything but! It is overflowing in busyness, with noise, diapers, cooking, laundry, schoolwork, sibling fights, chauffeuring, trips to the grocery store again and again, interrupted sleep and earlier than desired wake-ups. It’s full and it’s complicated and it’s anything but glamorous. Just this week I tracked how long I stood continuously in the kitchen. 5 hours, folks. Five! Seven am to noon cooking, cleaning, educating, repeat. And I was still in my pj’s. That is not my vision of a simple life.
I wonder if you feel the same way?
So I asked my friend to expound on this idea of simplicity. What does it look like? How do I get there? And where do the kids go in order for me to get this simplicity?
To my immediate disappointment (but long-term joy), she told me that this type of simplicity comes from embracing my life, not escaping it for my dream life. That it comes from finding value in the mundane; the daily maintenance of personal and family life- the 5 hours in the kitchen, the laundry, the stopping to hug a child or help them spell a new word-without wallowing in the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). It’s the simplicity that comes from having clear priorities, not necessarily a relaxing or exciting current daily life.
For me, that clear priority is raising children (and growing up myself) the best I can. THAT is a full.time.job. No big blow out vacations right now, but plenty of diaper blow outs. No time-and-money consuming hobbies right now, but lots of time-and-money consuming healthy cooking. No regular sleeping in until I wake up naturally, but plenty of waking up to the needs of little ones who trust me to provide for them. No killer magazine-worthy wardrobe right night, but certainly lots of laundry!Simplicity is doing all of this with the hope and belief that it will pay dividends. That I am raising- investing in- children who will go out into the world as equipped as possible and who will make it better. And that when they do go out, I’ll have more time for all those other things I missed out on. Though I wonder if I’ll have the same longing for them? Maybe, I don’t know.
My husband is a wealth manager. He helps clients plan for their long-term goals and desires; to invest wisely their assets. He is continually reminding others (and ourselves) that the hard, sacrificial and mundane efforts we put in now will pay dividends in our future. And he has the graphs to prove it! For me, my children are my assets under management.
The other month we were at an event with my husband’s colleagues. People who feel out of my league. Big time. Angel investors. Millionaires. High-powered execs. Inventors. Investors. Women who rock it in heels. People who love math (gasp!). One young, single, super successful man struck up a conversation with us and I did my best to hang, but really I was mostly thinking about how painful heels have become since the last time I wore them….when was that again? Then he asked if we had any children. Micah and I glanced at each other a bit nervously and answered, “Five.” It was as if you could see this poor man’s brain misfiring. Trying to compute. Trying to find the appropriate response from his clearly well-practiced list of smooth responses. But he didn’t have any and quickly and politely excused himself. To his credit: really, what does one say?? I could give you a list of what not to say from my interactions at the grocery store (ex. you need a hobby…don’t you know how that happens…are they all yours…)but that’s for another post.
In that moment I went from feeling inferior to proud. And grateful. And wealthy. Sure, I don’t understand the stock market. And my math skills are on par with my 8 year old’s. And I picked up my heels at the consignment because why would I buy new heels only to wear them once? #MommingIsAerobic! #Sneakers! But I am investing. I’m investing in my children and in my own growth (and fun fact: you CANNOT have one without the other. Sorry. You just can’t.) Children who are making me a better human, are making the world more joyous and creative and caring, and who are growing into really awesome people. That’s an investment! That’s a privilege! And the price (the ‘buy in’ as my husband would say) of this privileged investment is embracing the simplicity of a daily, mundane season of life filled with hours upon hours of cooking and cleaning and training and functional rather than fashionable clothing. Of resisting the urge to grumble about how unfair all of it is and how much I’m missing out on.
I’m not implying this is true for all people. There are many ways to grow and invest and improve ourselves and our communities. Not everyone is called to have children- or lots of them. I certainly didn’t think I was! But alas, this is my path, my portion, and my investment strategy. For me, the delayed gratification of free time and quiet time and sleeping in and fun nights out on the town and cute (clean and or/white) tops are leveraged by the understanding that my investment in my children and myself during this very long, very short season will pay out in more creative and satisfying and richly rewarding ways than I could ever imagine or calculate.
I’m definitely in the beginning stages of this investment, so this post is written more as a personal pondering and a regurgitation of what a trusted and wise mentor continues to encourage me with. (Older moms, your wisdom and perspective is welcome!) I’m hopeful, however, that as I continue to commit my parenting and personal growth to God, who is FOR US, that I will not be disappointed with my investment. I pray God’s blessing on all of us in the many ways we are striving to invest in his way of doing things.
“Unto him who is able to do immeasurably more…”
*If you would like some support as you grow up and get real alongside your kids, consider registering for Two Weeks With Tommimom, a 20 minute nightly training starting January 22 that fits into your schedule. I’ll show you ways to wade through the stress and busyness of parenthood to find the personal growth it offers. It’ll feel like relaxation, but you’ll actually be training!