Thursday, October 13, 2011

Keeping Pace

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity.  The pace has been way too fast for me.   I have been beating myself up thinking, "What a joke, I write about slowing down on my blog and here I am running full might into every day, trying hard just to keep up."

But the truth is, no matter how I want my ideal life to look, some days, some weeks, some months, and yes, even years, require us to move at a faster rate than we'd like.  Here we have had two sports in full swing with nightly practices and long weekend competitions. College hunting, testing, and applications required lots of work for us-for Isaac especially, but we logged hours and hours in the car, and there were so many tight deadlines that we had to work together to keep each other straight.  Required school meetings, necessary appointments-just little mandatory obligations that seemed to all hit at the same time, made for only a few blank days on the calendar.

Motherhood requires much of us.  We might go from long, lonely, sometimes boring, sometimes heavenly days that last forever, to days that are so full we can hardly keep up.  Our minds race, our heads spin.  Some choose this hurried pace, but sometimes it's not always the choices we make-sometimes it just comes with the territory of being a parent.

I ran into a friend the other day and had a chance to catch up.  Her third baby, a little boy, needed extensive surgeries after birth.  This required her to be in a different city from her two little girls and she drove back and forth as much as she could, trying to be the best mother to everyone.  At the same time she and her husband, were in the middle of a move.  Now no one in her right mind would plan for all that to happen at once.  I am sure there were times when she felt torn in different directions.  I am sure there were times when she wondered if she had enough to give.  I am sure there were times when she snapped or when she sobbed.  But I could also tell that now, when things were somewhat settled, she felt enormous relief and was able to look back with some pride at what she, as a mother, was able to endure.  She slowed down, brought her family back together, and reestablished as normal as a life as she possible could after that strong rally.  In fact when I saw her, she had her husband by her side, her two girls next to her, and her baby in the stroller, out for a slow walk to a beautiful park.  She looked tired, but she looked happy also.

Over the years I have learned that the key to regaining my equilibrium when life gives me much to handle all at once is to readjust quickly.  Right now I have an adrenaline rush from the last few weeks, but I know that I need to right myself and my family, pull back and slow down.  I said no recently to some things that required my time in the near future, and as hard as that was, and as bad as I felt, I know that the next few months will require a lot of me here at home.  I don't want to rush the holidays...those are precious, beautiful times with my family-times that I can't get back.

I know how I parent the best. It's not when I am exhausted and frantic, or when my head is full to the brim with dates and deadlines.  It's not when I feel like I'll never catch up, or when I feel like I can't stop to enjoy my children, because I need to prepare for the next hour, the next day, the next week.

I also know that without a deep desire to keep a pace that I feel is best for all of us-a slow, steady, sensible pace-I would be flailing in the wind.  Or more accurately, just swimming along with the current that seems to be the rage...running from here to there, out and about constantly, with no real sense of a home base.  My children don't thrive in that environment, especially the younger ones.  Children can cope and adjust to just about anything, and learning those skills is required in times that push us.  Like I said, we have to rally sometimes and life is not always predictable.  In the long run though, I want more for my children than just coping and adjusting.   I want peaceful minds, and rested bodies.  I want family time, predictability, and routine in all our lives. I want a quiet joy.


24 comments :

  1. Your last statement is so brief, yet so very powerful..."I want quiet joy"...love it and so very, very, true!

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  2. Sarah,

    This is my first time (I think) commenting, but I wanted to let you know that your blog is one of my absolute favorites! Your posts are always so upbeat and encouraging, and really make me stop to appreciate what I have (rather than feeling like I'm not doing enough, like so many other blogs I read). I look forward to reading and am always happy when I see a new post.

    Just wanted to say thank you!! :0)

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  3. I enjoy your blog! So glad I found you! I love your honesty and "realness"! Thanks for the encouragement!

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  4. Quiet joy. Two of my favorite things in the world :)

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  5. Goosebumps! I totally have goosebumps right now. Quiet joy - what a beautiful phrase. And a beautiful post. You have such a way with words Sarah! This topic needs to be a chapter in your book (you know the one - the best seller I am going to get the first copy of). ;) You are always so right on when it comes to parenting. Have I told you before that I love you and your blog? Well I do.

    :)

    p.s. Mentioned you in my post today. Hope that's ok.

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  6. Sarah, I've been living the same life lately. And your last statement is so very powerful.... I want a quiet joy, too. Thanks!

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  7. Sarah, I enjoy all your posts, but this one is really awesome. I'm going to pin it on my Pinterest board--I wish every mom could read that last paragraph.

    In the early 20th century Thomas Kelly wrote a little book called A Testament of Devotion. Here's what he says in the last paragraphs of that book. I think you might enjoy this.

    "Much of our acceptance of multitudes of obligations is due to our inability to say No. We calculated that the task had to be done, and we saw no one ready to undertake it. We calculated the need, and then calculated our time, and decided maybe we could squeeze it in somewhere. But the decision was a heady decision, not made within the sanctuary of the soul. When we say Yes or No to calls for service on the basis of heady decisions, we have to give reasons, to ourselves and to others. But when we say Yes or No to calls on the basis of inner guidance and whispered promptings of encouragement from the Center of our life, or in the basis of a lack of any inward "rising" of that Life to encourage us in the call, we have no reason to give, except one--the will of God as we discern it. Then we have begun to live in guidance. And I find He never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness. . . .

    "Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the helm."

    Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

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  8. Perfectly said Sarah! I am in complete agreement with you! I love your posts as they are full of wisdom! My family functions better in slower paced environment as well. I tend to follow my own rules and guidance for my family rather than what the "joneses" are doing. We try and have down time everyday to create and just "be," but as they get older there is less and less of that as obligations and commitments increase. I do value that we still luckily have family dinner 5 out of the 7 nights (hope that lasts for another couple of years ;) I will always try and keep that a priority as it really makes a difference and it's a time for us all to be present and focus on each other.

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  9. I was going to say that this post is just what I needed right now in my life, but then I realized that the contents of this post are just what I need all the time as I learn how to mother. Thank you for sharing these beautiful and true thoughts!

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  10. Sarah, I have been afraid to enter the world of sports and activities with my five children (ages 4-10) because I worry about whether or not I will have the strength to juggle things once we start. I am more of a slower pace person. I think long and hard about what I choose to do with my time. Usually I choose one or two things and do them with all my heart.

    Your post encouraged me. Deep breath...I just might be able to do this!

    Thank you,
    Melissa

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  11. Yes, yes, yes-to every word you wrote. This season of our lives is crazy, literally. I cannot keep up. We didn't choose it, but it is a necessary (and thankfully, temporary) season that we just have to live through. No one in our home is thriving as we keep up with the pace at which things move lately. I find myself becoming very defensive when others seem to criticize. So, thank you (!!!) for reminding me that sometimes things are just that way. And normal will return soon!

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  12. I can so relate to this post. We have been super busy lately, and not all by choice. I am looking forward to slowing down and taking things in more. I am ready to exhale!

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  13. Sarah,

    My two kids chose not to do fall sports this year (xc & football) and I was disappointed at first (especially about the xc!). But the last 6 weeks have opened my eyes. I had not realized how busy I always am running to practices, games and meets. We have cooked (and eaten) many meals together, played many games, taken walks, having some quiet joy.

    I do look forward to them getting started back up in their winter sports (basketball for both), but will now look forward much more to any "down time" that I get with them. We have all benefited from this slowdown. Thank you for your wonderful words, I read you everyday!!

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  14. Your blog is a breath of fresh air.

    Blessings,
    Sandy

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  15. I agree with you 100% - excellent post again! :) But, I do have a question for you that this post sparked. Maybe it's because I'm young (and clueless), but I feel so much pressure to "socialize". Women need women, my children need to be around other kids (or so everyone tells me), and all I want to do sometimes is spend a whole day at the park without having to rush off to storytime, a playgroup, or any of the other gazillion activities available to me/my children. I like to be alone with my kids, relaxed, but I don't want to deprive them of anything. The problem is I just don't know what they really need (what the long-term effects of my decisions will be). How do you find balance? How have you figured out what works for you? How in the world are you brave enough to say no? Maybe I just need to re-read your post ;)

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  16. Carolyn...the best socialization children need when they are young is to be with their Mom. Yes storytime at the library is nice occasionally and a play group at the park here and there is fun, but unlike society tells you children don't NEED all these extracurricular activities. They are perfectly content to play games and read stories and have quite time with Mom. Life is long and there is a lot of time for them to socialize with other children....there is so little time where we are the center of their lives...enjoy every moment you are not depriving them of anything, instead you are giving them everything!

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  17. As the mom of nine, I totally get what you are saying in this post! Right now we have 5 in soccer, 1 in baseball, 4 in Kung Fu, 3 in piano lessons, and 2 in the Girl Scouts (adding up the numbers, obviously some kids have double activities!) I feel like I'm on an adrenaline rush ALL the time. I long for a peaceful mind, one that isn't planning for the next "event" or trying to figure out how I'm going to be in five or six places at once. I have a very hard time saying "no" - I want my kids to be involved in social activities and sports. I know we need to cut back somewhere in order to slow down...but how do I decide what to cut back on? It's very hard to find balance.

    Katrina
    They All Call Me Mom

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  18. Great thoughts, Sarah. We all have to really consider what we need to do and stick to it!

    I just listened to a great talk about time, and this quote caught my attention: "the poor use of time is a close cousin to idleness." It kind of burns to think that frantic busyness (sometimes motivated by social pressure or unrealistic expectations or an inability to focus on specific goals) is akin to being lazy, but I know the principle is the same.

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  19. I can hear you take a deep breath, release it slowly, relax, regroup, and settle the herd!
    I remember those times and watch my own children race around madly with their own children trying to squeeze everything in - its a fine line we tread.

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  20. Beautiful post, what so many need to hear and heed. Quiet joy. Love it.

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  21. I hear you, it has been crazy around here and all I want to do is put on the breaks.

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  22. You have no idea how much I needed to find this post today. Thanks for helping me remember this is just a part of motherhood, soon it will pass and things will be back to semi-normal ...

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