Saturday, May 26, 2012


This is sort of Part B to yesterday's post... From time to time, I realize the weight that each choice in my life carries and how unconciously or selfishly I make them most of the time. 

I felt continual pressure and guilt when my kids were younger (before they started school). When I was cooking or cleaning, I felt like I should be spending time with my boys. When I was spending time with my boys, I felt like I should be doing something around the house. I became very occupied with trying to figure out how much of my day was supposed to be spent with my kiddos. I even called and wrote to Focus on the Family. My thinking was that if we know how many hours of sleep the average person needs, surely they can figure out, on average, what percentage of our time needs to be spent engaging our kids. However, they were no help. They just assured me that I was a good mother for even asking the question, said there's no way to know (the same kid can have different needs on different days), and left me to my own devices.

Following is my journal entry from January 16, 2011, which illustrates one of the times when my choices forced me to look at them head-on:

I am wondering how many choices I make in a day's time.  Not about what to eat or what to wear, but about what to do next.  There are things I now do automatically because of choices I made a long time ago.  For example, today is Sunday.  I will go to church at 11.  No brainer.  This no longer registers as a choice in my brain.  Just as, when I wake up every morning, I drink a cup of coffee and read something to feed my spirit and help me live my beliefs.  So today, I'm going to focus on those moments when I am choosing what to do next, not the choices that are made for me, like  making meals to feed my family, changing a diaper, etc...  I want to make choices based on what is important to me.  (end)
For the 7 days that followed, I kept track of how many actual choices I made during a normal work day.  The number of recorded choices I made in a day ranged from 4 to 13.  Anything from playing Legos, sweeping the floor, to reading a book.  The choices can be lumped into three groups:  Spending time with the kids, Cleaning/Cooking/Errands, Doing something for myself.  Out of 39 total choices, the boys got 46% of my time, the house/chores got 33%, and I got 21%.

I am happy to see that my boys got more time than anything else, but I also know it isn't always that way.  I want to give them more of myself, but they are getting older and don't seem very interested most of the time.  They would rather play a video game or play with their friends.  After all, I'm not very good at playing guns or swords (probably because I don't really know what to do and I don't really enjoy it).  Instead, I offer to play Uno, Battleship, but that isn't usually what they have in mind, either.  I think this is a natural progression, but in the poorly lit corner of my mind, I still wonder "Maybe they just gave up on me a long time ago (because I've been too selfish) and they have ruled me out as somebody to play with."

The important thing for me to realize is that it is not about whether or not they take me up on my offer.  It is about seeking them out and offering them my most coveted gift, my time.  If they don't accept, then I can let go of the guilt (at least for a little while).  So, for now, I will make it a point to make myself available to each one of my boys at least once a day, and they can take it or leave it. I'm going to write their names on the white board on my refrigerator.  Once I've offered, I'll put a smiley face by their name.  Accountability is good.

"The diminuitive chains of habit are generally too small to be felt, till they are too strong to be broken."  - Unknown-

Dear Heavenly Father, I am going to have to stand before you one day and give an account for my life.  I am going to see all of the times when I passed up opportunities to love and serve You, my family, and those people you have placed in my life.  Please forgive me where I have fallen short.  Please give me the grace to do better by living more selflessly, starting right now.  Thank you for time, chances, and choices.  You are a loving, generous, and merciful God.  I love you.  Amen.

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