How are you?
Busy! is the proud reply.
How we love to brag about how tired we are, how full our calendars are, how overfull our lives are.
But it's killing us, too.
Thomas Merton calls it a form of violence:
"The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common
form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a
multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many projects, to want
to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence."
And women seem particularly prone to this over-doing, over-giving. It's as if all our lives we've been praised for being busy, for you know what your mother said, idle hands are the devil's workshop. That's an old adage, but this drive for constant productivity has at its root a fear of laziness, a fear of the dreamer, the impractical one described in Aesops' fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper. The hard-working ant stored food away for winter, and worked hard to provide for the hard times, while the lazy grasshopper fiddled and played and sang, and starved once the cold weather arrived.
We have taken that message so much to heart in our busy culture that we can't allow ourselves to rest! Busy bees, busy ants, constantly moving, doing, connecting and creating. Except that at mid-life, the battery starts to run down. The wear and tear shows not only on the joints, but on the soul. We need a little more R&R, or the sabbatical day of the week to be brought back. Add to that, a tech-free zone where no one can reach us.
In her book, Overwhelmed, author Brigid Schulte makes the case that mothers have the least leisure time at all. In an interview in the Globe and Mail yesterday, she says we do it because it makes us look like 'a good woman" - look how busy I am. I'm putting myself last.
She remarks that even our leisure time is spent driving kids to soccer games or carpooling. True leisure time is when you have time for yourself, to refresh, connect with your inner longings and desires, or simply sit and read a book, time you have a choice in what you do. (read the article http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/relationships/too-busy-to-live-in-a-contemporary-world/article17758066/)
So what can we do? downgrade our expectations of how much we can get done in one day. Strike 2-4 items off the endless to-do list, and be satisfied. Learn to say, I am enough, I do enough, I am enough!
Push back against the constant pressure to be busy! allow your inner creativity to come out and daydream a little. Give yourself some down time to do what you love. Explore why you don't even know what you love to do anymore. Get off the Guilt Train. That old feeling that it's never enough, never good enough, and pat yourself on the back a little more often.
Mothers at mid-life have many stressors and lots of 'things' to do. But they need a day off too! Give yourself that, at the very least. Let the laundry sit in the basket one more day, and get outside for a walk, listen to the birds.
I'm headed out there now, while the sun is shining!