Do you ever find yourself muttering or declaring with savagery that there is never enough time?
We rise in the a.m. with high hopes and ambitions, only to lay our heads back down in the p.m. feeling unaccomplished, bedraggled, and a little despondent. Like we will never catch up. Like life is a kite string we stumble toward and chase after, on good days managing to graze with our fingertips and the rest of the time spend trying not to lose our tenuous grip.
Wait for me!
Life is an earless animal. It does not hear us when we shout at it. Nor is it a kind stranger sitting in a crowded bus; it will not scoot over and make room for us. It gives us what it gives us. The same amount, everyday, rain or shine. I have realized that I cannot do it all. Maybe you will be surprised to know this came as quite a shock to me. Or maybe not. Maybe it surprised you too at first. I laughed. I said, Oh, no. I’m sorry, but you must be mistaken. You see, I am a multitasker. I do several things at once. It’s like my second job. So really I can do it all. What’s that? I look a bit strung out to you? Dark circles under my eyes? No, no, no, no. I can see how you might think–but no. No. Those are productive circles. Very different. They mean I am fulfilled. Yes, exactly. Fulfilled. Now you understand. Would you like to join me? I’m just going to take a seat here where I can make lunches, check my e-mail, water the lawn, and shave my legs.
There are 24 hours in a day, 30ish days in a month, 52 weeks in a year, 10 years in a decade, and roughly 8 decades in a lifetime. Looking at these numbers, it would seem as though we have an abundance of time; but we don’t. And we know this from experience. Calendars fill up months in advance. There are birthdays and holidays, playdates and coffee dates, dinners and family get-togethers, doctor’s appointments and after school sports, and the more mundane but absolutely essential: the grocery shopping, the laundry, the dog-walks, the cooking, the job, the exercising, and lastly, the one activity of which never do enough, the sleeping.
We are very good at tricking ourselves into thinking that by doing a little of lots of things, we are accomplished, well-balanced, happy people, when really we are scattered, frazzled, worn down people. But why do we trick ourselves? I think I might know.
We all know her. She is that woman who appears to be Doing It All. She is a mom, a wife, a working woman, a volunteer, a DIY virtuoso, a hostess, a housekeeper, and a cook. Not only is she Doing It All — she is doing it all well. With a smile on her face. Dressed stylishly. While handing out Pinterest-perfect cupcakes to her friends, neighbors, and co-workers. She is Mrs. Brady and Martha Stewart in Sofia Vergara’s body. Let’s be honest, okay? We do not like this woman. Not so much. She is a threat to us and our haphazard schedules and gray roots and chipping nail polish. By her existence she is implying Doing It All can be done; it’s only you who cannot do it all. And she’s right. Which leaves us with only one choice. She must be taken out – Jason Bourne style, all evidence she ever existed destroyed. *cracks knuckles* Who’s with me!?
The reality is this woman does not exist anywhere but in our heads. She is purely a figment of our imagination, an affected working of the Whom we think the world expects us to be. She is a hoax. Despite all appearances, she is just as tired, stressed, and overextended as the rest of us. However, she may happen to be wearing cute shoes. Cute shoes are like birthday candles. Women put them on as a means of diverting attention, hoping those sagging and overcooked areas will go unnoticed.
Lately I’ve been feeling as though the days are getting shorter. I look up from my desk, notice the sky is purple when it should still be blue, realize I haven’t eaten in 2 hours and 30 minutes ago it was time to go to the gym/make dinner/walk Bella/spend quality time with Michael. I teared up on Saturday when someone reminded me we would be setting our clocks forward. It was like I was experiencing this phenomenon for the first time instead of the 31st time. Whaaat? You must be joking. A whole hour??? How dare you, daylight savings. How. Dare. You. Give it back. Giveitgiveitgiveitgiveitgiveit.
As you can see, I was very mature about the situation. I followed up by cramming twice as much life into one twenty-fourth less room, and still had time to take Bella on a walk. Okay, it was to the mailbox – which had not been checked in 3 days – but we walked there. It counts.
The truth is that we all have plenty of time. God made sure of it. He tested it out on Himself first. He drove Time around the block to see how well it would handle sharp turns and sudden stops. And when He was done creating the Heavens and the Earth, He did not check his Facebook. He rested.
Somehow we deceive ourselves, thinking by doing we will be happier, when really it only leaves us feeling rejected and defeated. Our intentions are good. We mean well; it’s that we struggle to be reasonable with ourselves. Why is it we have grace for others, but never any for ourselves? It’s as though we think people won’t understand we’re human. We delude ourselves, and in fear of letting people down we say Yes, I would LOVE to take that art class with you; I always wanted to be an artist . . . when I was 3. Or, Sure, I can lead that seminar on aged cheese; I’ll just have to learn about cheeses, maybe eat some, get a babysitter to watch the kids, which might be a little expensive but nothing our credit card can’t handle, and maybe my husband won’t have clean underwear that week, but sure! Count me in!
Our lives change. To adapt with as little friction as possible, we must also change with them. There will be months when we can read for an hour in the morning, make a gourmet meal in the afternoon, and make it to the gym in the evening. And then there will be seasons when as much as we would like to say yes, we must, for the sake of those most important to us and for our own sanity, say no. Sometimes it will be easy; a matter of looking at how we are filling our days versus how we would like to be spending our days, then sitting down with paper and pen and moving a few things around. Other times it will be difficult. It will mean eliminating something completely. An activity we might love and enjoy, but because we are not robots and superheroes, just people with a finite amount of room for our lives, we must let it go. Letting go always hurts the most at the beginning. We see it as a failure, a sign of our incompetence and inadequacy; but these are just lies the evil one puts in our ears to make us feel guilty, unworthy, and afraid. The other thing is it doesn’t have to be forever, just put aside, for now, until the right time and space opens up.
I am learning – slowly but surely – that a busy life is not a full life. I am accepting I cannot have more room for my life, so I have to be mindful of putting better life in my room. Not just any life, though, Life capital L. And then, the next part, which is often very, tremendously difficult, being both grateful for proud of that Life, in all its forms, small as it might seem.
All right, then. Are we ready? To stop slamming and shaming ourselves when we come up short of perfect? To focus on Life capital L? Good, me too! I’m going to put on my tennies and take Bella for a walk (a real one). This helps to clear my head before a long day of writing. I’ll try to tackle some laundry and make a few appointments, but if I don’t get to this because I’m doing Life, I’ll forgive myself. And if at any moment you catch yourself measuring yourself against Doing-It-All-woman, remind yourself she is a hoax, that you are giving Life your very best and it is more than enough. You are more than enough.
Happy Monday, my friends. Be well,
P.S. How simple and lovely are these calendars? Click here to purchase.