People vs. Things

I’m a list-y type of gal. I almost always have a list of things I want to get done in a day, and I enjoy seeing how much I can plow through. Now, so close to our trip to get our girls from Ethiopia, that inclination is even stronger. Oh, the things I must do! Each day I feel challenged to check off as many items as possible.

Late last night as I roamed the house, tossing a last load of laundry in, picking up towels, flushing the little kids’ bathroom toilet one last time, I felt a pang of regret. I was so busy yesterday that I didn’t get a lot of playing in. Only a few minutes to play cards with the big kids. Not one story read to the two year old. Only a few minutes cuddling with her at bedtime. My tired brain went in overdrive, suddenly full of all the ‘didn’t-do’s’ of the day. Suddenly the guilt threatened to crush me.

All of it– I want to do all of it well, most especially the child-nurturing. And yet the Things have a way of seeming so urgent, crowding out the really meaningful interactions with the People most precious to me.

Overwhelmed. I felt so overwhelmed. My desire to do the best for these precious ones is so strong. And yet the shopping needs done, and the cooking and the packing, and the planning. School books for the coming year need to be bought…school supplies too, while the prices are good. Chip, chip, chip. Every little thing chips away at the time my children need.

Last night while exhaustion was clouding my brain, I felt like I was failing. Today, fresh and clear-headed, I see that by God’s grace my children are doing well, that I AM hugging and making eye contact and nurturing and talking with them. And yet last night’s flood of emotions reminded me how important that balance is, and how easy it is to get off-center. it pushed me to do just a little better.

This morning I’m taking my kids to a free summer movie at our local theater. I’m making strawberry milkshakes for breakfast (my 2 year old is clamoring for one after paging through a colorful kids cookbook). I’m reading a story to my little one. I’m whipping out the Uno this afternoon. Maybe the Things will be done a little slower. But the People will be happier. And that is how it should be.

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  1. you are an incredible mommy, and your kids are amazing. you’re doing great, and i’m soooo excited to meet your new little ones!

  2. I feel this way often – and I only have the two little ones calmoring for my attention! The things on your lists are all there for the benefit of your family, so don’t feel guilty for taking care of the things that a mother must.

    But also don’t let yourself feel guilty for taking care of the people first – cuddles and cards and strawberry shakes for breakfast. Brava to you for tending to your family as well as you do – you’re always an inspiration. ==)

  3. Beautifully written, Mary.

  4. These days are there for everyone! I am childless right now and even I find that it’s possible to get to wrapped up in the “Things to Do” list and neglect your favorite dog and husband!

    Last night I had one of those moments and just cuddled the dog and said sweet things to her. I made sure to cuddle hubby today and to bring him coffee.

    It’s not just you. It’s all of us. It happens. Then when we finally get a good nap or have a moment of total calm…we dismiss the guilt and focus on the people we love.

    Keep up the good work!

  5. I feel this exact way many times, and I only have two children. This post was a great encouragement to me.

  6. It’s a non-stop tension, isn’t it? I wish I could tip-toe the line of balance and grace for myself with this, but that’s a rare day.

  7. Wow I really needed this post, especially today. I have two days off in a row and I have neglected my poor garden for way too long so today was it. I get interrupted every 5 minutes or less and find it hard to do anything lately. Then I have hubby scanning the house to see what got (or didn’t) get done everyday. I’ll make sure that he reads this one………..Thank You.

    Any good ideas on how to get your children to just pick up after themselves? By that I mean to just put one thing away before getting out another or just keeping the toys in one room. I say pick this or that up or just put one thing away before geting out another at least 50 times a day. I’m getting sick of my own voice….seriously;)

  8. I know everyone feels that way at times, but I SO needed to hear that from someone else. Sometimes I get tired of trying to keep the balance and just allow myself to go in one extreme. Thanks for the encouragement!

  9. A continual struggle in my home, as well. We must fight to not allow condemnation to creep into our hearts when we realize how busy we’ve been. Instead, let’s repent and try harder to love on those kids!

  10. You are such a Goddess……truly an amazing woman!!!

  11. I think we all battle with this. It is something I keep writing about too. You are doing a wonderful job, Mary. The photos of your babe asleep on her Daddy’s back were so beautiful!

  12. I needed this post today as well. Thanks for putting into words the way I felt today!

  13. I can so relate. Thank you for posting this!

    You seem to me an excellent mom btw!

  14. Thanks for making ME one of those people who was happier today because of you, Mary. I was blessed to spend several wonderful hours at your house, talking about adoption, our kids, and how we could do something that really makes a difference in the world. All the while, as you nurtured our sister relationship, you continued to be the beautiful example of motherhood that I strive to emulate. You are doing what matters most ….. and doing it well, I might add. [:-)
    Love, Rachel

  15. you KNOW how i battle with this…thanks for sharing your feelings on balance my supermom friend. 🙂

  16. this is a constant battle for me too. some nights when it’s finally quiet i sit and wonder if i did enough for my kids that day. did i hold them enough, read to them enough, laugh with them enough. but, thankfully, i get another day, another chance to try to do it better tomorrow.

    a movie and strawberry shakes sure sounds like a winner day to me!

    i’m working on my childhood home piece! excited that you’re doing that.

  17. summershine says:

    I completely agree. What a nice post.

  18. Great Reminder, Mary, thanks so much.

  19. Amen. Beautiful.

    I have to say, though, that this week has been one of more talks, hugs and stuff than normal. Weird, what with the move and all. But it’s given us lots of time in the cars, lots of I’m here with one, John has the other at the old house wrapping up .. time.

    Precious. good times.

    Even with 300 boxes involved.

  20. Oh gosh, yes. You described how I often feel. Finding a balance is hard. But, somehoe we do it, and the kids are loved and happy. God is good.