Is What We Do Enough?

by Mary Ann on May 14, 2010

I have a really fabulous mentor/coach. Mentoring is one of the keys of a great education and so I have mentors and coaches. This particular mentor is also a dear friend. I love talking with her, although I do not love all of our conversations. Some are painful and emotional. We had one of those today.

I am sharing it with all of you because it is the same conversation that I have with many moms and dads that I coach.What I hadn’t connected was that I, just like them, suffer from the same malady – it is never enough and because of that I am not free to make a place in my life for the things that fill me up, without feeling guilt and pain.

It’s a sorry admission I know. We always think that those we mentor with must in some way be so much better than we are. In truth, a good mentor is usually just a step or two ahead of us-which is why they can be our mentor.

In order to be really productive and have space for all the families that I work with and the book I am writing, grandkids and seven children, as well as church and a new business, I account to my mentor daily on what I got accomplished and what may have blocked me from getting the really important things done. This process has worked wonders for me. Yet, I end by saying things like, “I did waste three hours today, resting, eating lunch and leisurely fixing dinner. Sometimes I just feel so lazy!”

In fact here is the last email that I sent to her. “I did my morning routine, read for an hour and went to work till 12:00. Came home and cooked dinner, then ate lunch (I read while I ate) and rested an hour. I read 5 chapters and took notes on the Jack Rabbit Factor. I called my business mentor and have a phone meeting set for tomorrow. I wrote 3 blogs, ate dinner with Don and had a discussion about business. I got all the A items on my daily list done but one. I also took nap for 45 minutes. I didn’t get any B’s or C’s on the list done.”

“I rested too much today but I was tired. I stay up too late. I always feel like I should do more but I am not willing to push like I used to. I have ambivalent feelings because I am making a healthy life change but am still tied to the old way of being. Sigh. It is ok though because I really don’t want to push all the time. Sometimes I WANT a nap.”

Does that conversation ring a bell with any of you? I’ll bet that it does. Can you believe that I could think of myself as lazy or falling short in some way with a day like I just described. It is a crazy thing!! The fact is that I work a lot and I get a great many things done. I serve others, help my family, run a business, and spend time with God, and study, study, study. What I don’t do is allow myself to incorporate the things that fill me up without feeling a twinge of quilt.

What I have consistently failed to recognize is that these things that I love to do are just another part of having a life of fulfillment.That is the life that we constantly think we are going to have soon or someday when we get everything else taken care of. That is never going to happen. There will always be work to be done, children to care for, husbands to do something for, church assignments, things at work, a neighbor to comfort and the list goes on.

Whenever I say that I just don’t have time for a long bath or to sit at the table and eat lunch or share a sunset on the balcony with my husband and daughter what I am actually doing is running away from that thing inside that tells me that I am not worthy of it, haven’t done enough to deserve it… you add your line because we all have one.

It is very important to start thinking about life as a whole and not in compartments. I can have hot coco in front of the fire because it is part of a good day, just like finishing an article or publishing a blog or serving my neighbor or cleaning the bathroom are part of a good and successful day. The things that bring us joy shouldn’t be saved for when we have done enough but should be part of every day. I am making a firmer commitment to that very thing. Sometimes we just need to change our intent.

This is an important topic for all of us to consider. What do we want to model for our children and grandchildren. How do we want their lives to run? Don’t we want them to breath, don’t we want them to rest, don’t we want them to enjoy. Of course we do. But if all they see is that “it’s never enough” then we cannot pass anything else on to them.

Parents are mentors. We are the example for our children to follow. We are the leaders they know best. We are who they will most likely pattern after.

I work with a mom who can’t enjoy even one minute of her home schooling day with her children. She misses so much of the joy of watching them explore and learn. That is because she is so focused on what isn’t right, what isn’t in her Spark Station, who isn’t reading yet, what field trip they haven’t taken. She feels constantly overwhelmed and anxious because no matter what she does it isn’t enough. There is no time in her day for pleasure, joy, rest, or some thought.

I have another mom who never could even get a Spark Station started because she just couldn’t find the time to “do it right.” So it never got done. Years went by and she always intended to find the time but life is life and if we wait for perfect or when enough is done we wait forever. Listen to what another mother said after attending one of my classes.

“Your class was wonderful! I loved it. In fact, I used our “Spark Station” today for the first time in our home school. I have always been waiting for that perfect day in a perfect world when I had the perfect Spark Station….which day was not coming anytime soon! After going to your class, I threw together some fun things in some clear Tupperware containers, and voila! our temporary closet. How liberating! It was wonderful! We had a great school day together. Thank you so much!

Let’s liberate ourselves. Let’s stop being victims to “it’s just not enough”. Let’s let each day be enough. Let’s let our kids, just the way they are, be enough. Let’s let our Spark Station be enough. Let’s allow every day to contain some work, some rest, and a good measure of joy!

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