Saturday, March 17, 2012

Things I Don't Do

I just enjoyed an amazing two days at the Hearts at Home National Conference. It's a conference to encourage and educate moms and is spiritually based. I heard really wonderful speakers and came away with strategies around organization, nutrition, parenting and improving our marriage. The workshop: 50 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Your Husband was wonderful and am already using some of the tips. We also enjoyed a fabulous Mom's Night Out with wonderful music and an improv group.

This morning there was a really moving talk titled: What To Do When God Says "Wait" The presenter spoke about her experience trying to adopt, coming close but not getting a baby, and the heartbreaking waiting time. I'd read her bio and I purposely preferenced this workshop last as I thought I'd have a hard time holding it together and wasn't sure I wanted to get emotional in the middle of the conference. But God had another plan and I was matched with the workshop.  I'm sure glad I was--I wasn't the only one in tears and there was much I needed to hear.

But now to expand on the title of this blog "Things I Don't Do," This phrase was from speaker Linda Anderson, founder of Mom to Mom Ministries.  I loved her talk as it truly struck a chord with me.  Linda guest posted on Hearts at Home CEO Jill Savage's blog earlier this week and I'm pasting a section of this blog below.

Linda Anderson's Post (Click here for Linda's guest blog to read her entire post.)

I was suffering from a common mom-malady, which I think has intensified recently: TMS (The Too Much Syndrome) Recognize it?

• TMI (Too Much Information) We are bombarded 24/7 with cable news, the internet, Facebook friends, even magazines at the supermarket—all full of suggestions for who we are to be as moms and what we should be doing for our kids.

• TMA (Too Many Activities) All good things. But too much of even a good thing is too much. Do your kids see only the “van view” of you– the back of your head while carpooling?

• TMT (Too Much Technology) The noise is deafening. Are you (or your kids) texting your way through life as it passes you by? Do you know your FB friends better than your family?

• TME (Too Many Expectations) We expect too much of our husbands, our kids—and mostly ourselves. Our “To Do” lists are killing us.

So what’s a mom to do? Or, put more appropriately, what’s a mom to not do? My suggestion? Try making a list of things you don’t do. As a recovering perfectionist mom, I gradually compiled my own list of things I just didn’t do—in order to do the things that mattered most.

Then recently, I came across author Shauna Niequist’s chapter “Things I Don’t Do” in her wonderful little book Bittersweet (p. 53-60). If you want to pick up the book, you’ll find her list inspiring.—and freeing.

Making a “Things I don’t do” list is hard. There’s a lot a mom just can’t cut out of her schedule. Like diapers and meals and laundry. But if you think clearly about your priorities and creatively about your daily life, you’ll be surprised at what you can let go.

Here are a few “Don’t Do That” items from my own list:

• Gourmet meals: My kids were well-fed and nourished, but no Julia Child here. I once asked my grown son what meal he most remembered from his childhood. His reply? “Those “Steakum” sandwiches you made before Little League games”! Full disclosure: He went on to list other slightly more sophisticated family meal favorites. But you get the picture.

• Crafts—or anything handmade: Just not my gift! I’m not a “crafty” person. I often wish I were. But somehow my kids survived without hand-sewn Halloween costumes and Martha Stewart decorations on their birthday cakes.

• White glove cleaning: Being a first-born half-German recovering perfectionist, I do need a certain degree of order in my life. So I did pick up toys and clear the countertops fairly regularly. But deep cleaning (like washing the kitchen floor frequently)? Not so much.

• Gardening: Here’s another gift I wish I had. But I don’t. I did assist one of our sons (with the help of a Grandpa) in raising tomato plants one or two seasons. But that’s about it.

I hope this sampling from my “Don’t Do” list will not alarm you. My kids seem to have survived quite well into healthy, happy adulthood. But I do hope it will inspire you. Making this list—and living it without guilt—can be very freeing!

What’s on your “I don’t do that” list?
I can so identify with Linda's "Too Much Syndrome."  In fact, I arrived late to the session as I had stayed behind to speak with the previous presenter.  So I stood in the back of the balcony--out of sight of Linda and the other attendees and proceeded to respond to e-mails while listening with one ear to the first part of her talk. To be fair, I had kept my cell phone in my bag all day and had been only focused on the workshops. But for some reason I felt the need to multitask during this one--maybe because I was driving back to Chicago directly following and wanted to get on the road. So when she spoke about "Too Much Technology," I chuckled to myself, put my phone away, and gave the talk my full attention.

Coincidentally, my women's small group at church is reading Wayne Muller's A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough. Reviewer Frank Ostaseski describes this book as "an antidote to ‘more is better’ and the madness of multitasking. It offers a respite from the endless cycle of seeking that perpetuates our suffering. This book is a great reminder of the joy of keeping it simple, of the abundance present in this moment, and that even these few words are enough.”

I'm behind on my reading as the past few months have been quite busy.  I plan to finish the book and then spend some time in prayer and reflection looking at my priorities, how I spend my time, and what I do and don't do. I'm really grateful for experiences like this conference to get me out of my routines and challenge me to be more intentional.

1 comment:

  1. I've heard of this conference and many friends who've attended it. I'm so glad you could go! It is definitely an important message in our doing too much world. There is so much good to do, but to try to do it all makes everything stressful and meaningless. I'm speaking to myself here! Thanks for the reminder.