Monday, October 24, 2011

Pick Your Battles

Over the years, as the children have arrived and during times when our life has been turned upside down by my husband's work schedule (he has worked 2-3 jobs at times or been out of town often) or by illness (like the time we experiences two hospitalizations in one year for our third son), I began to learn the fine art of letting go.

I have to admit, I am not particularly good at it. But I am getting plenty of practice. I have found that even though I like things "a certain way" or feel like I can't live without ____, there usually reaches a point where inevitably, it becomes obvious one thing needs to go to allow space for sanity. And it is usually that one thing I thought I couldn't live without. Guess what. I can.

I have, like many mothers, ideas about the way things have to be. When I had two children, I had a spotless house; I dressed my children in what I wanted them to wear; I got an hour or two to myself each day; I enjoyed cooking on a regular basis; I was a size 6 and completed a triathlon; I had time to spend on personal projects that brought a sense of fulfillment. I loved to be in the middle of things and be involved in the community and volunteering! I guess I thought life couldn't change and it would always be so.

Each one of those has fallen by the wayside, although I occasionally get an hour to myself (late at night) and every year or two I can complete a personal project, like a family photo album. I am, alas, no longer a size 6 and I do not always enjoy cooking--sometimes it is just about making sure everyone is fed, and hoping the food is healthy enough!

As more children joined our family and as the kids got older, things started not always going my way. Although that's not always been comfortable, I don't think it's something that needs correcting. I want my children to grow to be their own people. For instance, sometimes one child wants to wear soccer shin guards to church under their socks or the stained tie dyed shirt to the store. I choose to pick my battles, and just go with the flow.  I am sure there were a few people who thought things about me or my children I would not have liked to know about....but I am learning that what other people think does not matter.

I have been feeling stress and more than a little sadness at losing parts of myself, or my former life as I knew it. You know, the clean, well-groomed, all-about-me life. But reading a few Mom's blogs and the commentary about just letting things go has really been helping me. PB and J for dinner. Not worrying about getting a child to read perfectly by age X. Keeping only a minimum number of toys in the house to cut down on clutter. Not signing up for extra activities out side the house.

I can't tell you how inspired I am now by mothers who do not "do it all" or "do it perfectly". I used to be so caught up in doing everything right--it was well-intended, because I wanted to get this mothering thing right the first time! BUT, I forgot to trust God and allow Him to make all the imperfections right over time, too. It certainly has been a painful lesson for me to learn that I can be happy even if life has a slower pace. But the good news, is that it is getting better. I am learning!

I LOVE to read the stories of the Moms who say they survived and enjoyed raising their kids because they simplified things: they didn't worry about keeping up with the neighbors or keeping a perfect house. I really do need and appreciate the ideas mothers share on how to organize or streamline running the household, but I definitely take what works and leave the rest these days.

I am going to implement this spirit of letting go even more. I already only spot mop my floor once a week, if that...just because that's all I have energy for. But the dishes are done at night (mostly). I get the laundry washed and dried, but I don't stress about getting it put away--people can wear clean clothes out of laundry baskets as well as out of a closet.

Tonight was soup with whatever veggies were in the fridge and no frills about it. Ahhhh...just letting go can really be relaxing. I just can't believe it's taken me about 4 years to really GET IT. It's just now sinking in that life can be good, even if not ideal or perfect or "awesome" all the time. It's so much unnecessary pressure, and you know what, the kids are alright and we can be happy anyway!


  1. Oh Eve! How I LOVE this post! You hit the nail right on the head with what I've been feeling lately. I couldn't agree with you more. I was the same, everything needed to be done my way and that was pretty easy with just one or two little kids, but then as more children come and they learn they have minds of their own BUT you are so right ... that's a GOOD thing! It's so hard to let go sometimes, but it was when I hit five kids with the last two only 16 months apart, I had no choice -- I HAD to let go and it has been so good for me. A lesson I know the Lord needed me to learn and I continue to learn. I now cut out as much extra curricular as possible and just focus on making life as simple as possible and just enjoying each other. I want to enjoy these child-bearing years, not white-knuckle it. Thank you so much for sharing!! :)

  2. Good post. It IS hard to let go, and every time you think you've let go of ENOUGH, something comes along to make you realize you still have MORE to let go of. I'm impressed that it only took you 4 years to learn this art, I find that whenever I think I've got it down, I don't. They don't call these the 'trenches' years for nothing. I'm setting my sights on the easier years, and hoping that by then, I'll still remember what a clean house looks like, and how to apply make up.

  3. Sherry and Kristin, I am glad you both liked this post. It's reassuring to me that there are mothers like you who know what the nitty-gritty of mothering can be like sometimes. If there's anything harder than mothering many young children 24/7, it's going through it and feeling alone. I really appreciate your comments.

  4. I only have one child so can't relate to some of what you said though I just wanted to assure you that I still don't have a spotless house lol and many other things that others may think I should have working better in my life! I like you sometimes have wondered about what others think of my home but I know it stems from wanting their approval and God has certainly healed me in this area over the years but it's still ongoing....I'm glad the penny has dropped for you, it's so freeing isn't it! :)

  5. Rosemary, I agree with you--no matter what differences we may have in number of children or other life circumstances, motherhood always offers us all chances to stretch and grow in new ways. Sometimes that growing can be so uncomfortable! I appreciate how you said God is helping you to heal in that area of your life--how good He is to offer that healing, I know it's something I need, too.


Thanks for your comment today! I love reading your thoughts, too. :-)