See that meme? I spent about ten minutes working on it.
Because it had to be perfect. Because I wanted it to say exactly that. Because it would otherwise reflect an image of me that said I allow carelessness, that I somehow have forgotten how to pay attention to detail, that, somehow I don’t care. And I do care. I care very much what you think about my blog. I care what people say on my Facebook page. All day, whether at home or out and about, I care.
And when it comes to my children, this caring is carried to the penultimate level. I care what my kids eat, what they wear, what they do. I care what they think, I care how they behave with each other. I care that they have friends, entertainment, school in the right amount. I care that all of this exists in their lives in the perfect amount – just enough, not too much. Of course I care.
I care entirely too much.
When I spent what was just ten minutes on that meme, that was ten out of the twenty-five minutes I had carved out for myself in the morning to be able to write this post. Did I succeed? Hmm. Yes. I like what I’ve done there. Clever, if I may say so myself. Was it worth forty percent of the time I have set aside for blogging? That’s debatable.
I think my life as a modern mom often reflects this dilemma and it affects how I spend my day and whether, when I lie down, I feel as if I have accomplished what I set out to do or if I’m just marking time.
There’s a connection. Time management is not something only corporate types need. As a mom, I especially need to number my days, hours, minutes so that I truly apply my heart to wisdom. And often I have found there is one thing that stands in the way: the embarrassment of riches.
The tyranny of choice has been well documented. Given the plethora of options, moms today are often at a loss about how to navigate their way through the day.
So many decisions! What to make for dinner? What curriculum to pick for school? What to wear? What to do for school? Which room to organize and clean first? How to teach the reluctant child? And sometimes, what approach is best? Am I harming my children by letting them play computer games? Am I hurting them by not teaching them to read early enough? Am I giving them enough time to play outside?
Here’s the thing: big questions need answering. They need big answers. I’m not denying that. Convictions take time to form. You should, by all means available to you, take the time to form convictions, deep convictions, unshakable ones. Everyone needs to know the hills they’re willing to die on, battle lines that will not be passed if only to know what isn’t all that important.
And here’s another thing: what isn’t all that important isn’t all that important. I know I’m sounding redundant. But it needs to be said. I know because I’ve said to myself often. The thing we get stuck on is this: what isn’t all that important isn’t all that important – but it still needs to get done. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Life in this world is inherently messy. Mistakes cannot be avoided. You’re not going to get it all right.
As one of my favorite teachers in college loved to say, “You have to be comfortable with not figuring it all out.” (She taught literature. That’s obvious, isn’t it?)
In my day, there are a million decisions to be made, but some of them are already in place because of my convictions. The rest are routines, which give our family the familiarity we need to be able to relax. And the smallest of things that don’t matter very much at all have the niftiest of tools: timers and stopwatches.