I'm feeling the lack of margin these days. There are a couple of witty little posts and long, reflective ones trying to wind their way out, but honesty compels me to admit, right now I got nuthin'. This week I manhandled five passport applications into the U.S. bureaucracy, endeavored to inspire my children to further learning, tutored for four hours, and finally, after feeling like I was spending a disproportionate part of my day walking to and fro in the house picking up stuff, filled with grace for nobody, promised myself to stop that and just for a day, neither clean nor nag. By Wednesday night, I felt myself quivering on the verge of tears during our AWANA club night over my child's "under-performance." Not good.
I had to take ten minutes to stand outside and watch the rain fall. I had to tell the Lord, for the twelve thousandth time perhaps, that I cannot make it and that He must. I had to listen for His reminder that His transforming work in me is just like that gentle rain: unstoppable.
I know my children deserve my best. I know the answer is not to withdraw from them. But I also feel sometimes that they're getting less than my best, because I'm not taking care of their mother. I read a post by beloved author Shannon Hale about mothering and creativity and thought, yes, that part is usually the first to go. But one distant day from now, my children will be living lives of their own, and what will be left? How do you give your family 100%, relishing the work and the joys of the domestic sphere, but also maintain a certain amount of yourself in reserve -- the part that is a child of God and therefore enjoys creating, that wants to go and do and explore?
I believe that children naturally respect adults who take care of themselves, who remain lifelong learners, who refuse to stagnate. Yet meanwhile, they and their surroundings require great care and (often immediate) attention. The default for most of us, I think, is to become primarily consumers and maintainers, rather than producers and delighters. (New word. You're welcome, Mr. Webster.)
Friends, how do you all reconcile this dilemma in your own lives? Has anyone modeled for you that kind of balance?