At this moment, I am sitting in bed, snuggling my nursing babe while he finally drifts off for a nap, listening to the ocean on his sound machine, feeling at peace.
(none of these photos have anything to do with this post. I just can’t stand a post without photos, and these are beautiful to me. Enjoy my *film* shots!)
Fifteen minutes ago, life felt much crazier and chaotic and loud. I was sitting at the computer (I am blogging from my phone), holding a fussy baby in my lap, trying desperately to get him to nurse and nap while I finished typing a devotion for Blessed Is She. Then Fence came around tossing a plush snowball at me, trying to start a fight.
Nothing good was happening. In fact, I find more and more that very little good happens anymore when I try to do too much at once, or when I try to do too much at all. Naps get missed or shortened, kids get cranky, I get hangry, the floors get sticky, dinner burns… I’m a hot mess.
I may be a bit of a frumpy mom many days (I often choose a few more minutes of sleep over make-up, and my hair is perpetually in a messy bun), but when the chaos hits my soul and spills over into everything I do, it isn’t pretty. There is less peace and joy, more aggravation and grumbling. “Ain’t nobody got time for that”, as they say.
See, the thing is, I don’t have time for doing too much at once because in the end, nothing is done well or to completion. If I had persisted at the computer with a fussy baby, I would at this moment still have a fussy baby, an unfinished writing project, and a crabby disposition. If I try to do too much at a time on a daily basis, I am rushing about, nagging and yelling at the kids, running up and down the stairs a thousand times because I keep forgetting things in my distracted-by-chaos craze (and without a Fitbit to track all those stairs!), leaving a mess in my wake, spreading discontent and negativity. In all that, what I accomplish is creating a house of shambles instead of home of joy.
Don’t start telling me that I am wrong and my house looks great (it doesn’t) and I do everything well (I don’t). I burn potatoes, forget the laundry, can’t keep clutter at bay.
Little by little, experience is telling me to slow the heck down and do just one thing. Ok, sometimes two things, because I can nurse and blog (but only sometimes). Just do one thing, complete it, and move on.
But which one thing? There are so many pressing needs! So many mouths! So many desires! Sure, but only one at a time. This time, it was the baby who needed the most first. So I stopped, gave him my attention in a quiet space, and voila! He is napping and I can move on. Maybe it is dinner needing to be prepped. One thing. Prep dinner…but clear the counter first, because lunch was so chaotic that I can’t see straight in the kitchen to begin. Just one thing. Clear the sink, clear the counter, breathe in peace and then begin dinner.
Most days, the clutter still jeers at me from the counter and the book shelf. The floors should be wiped a bit more often. The windows are fingerprinted and we don’t read aloud with the kids as often as I hope. I am not great at this business of slowing down, simplifying, and focusing. (heck, this single post has taken over a week to complete) Learning is a journey, and learning how to choose and do one thing at a time is a process I try over and over again. It helps when I start my day with a quick–but intentional!–prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to guide me in my actions and help me do the most important things, and do them well. Sometimes, what is most important doesn’t feel that way, bit as Colleen wrote, for many of us, it is in how we respond to the “interruptions” that makes a difference. And you know what else? When I do one thing at a time, I am more likely to be able to be joyful about it, than cussing in my head about how thete is too much to do and life is too crazy when I have 7 things going at once. It’s a lesson she learned from Pope Francis, and I’m deeply inspired by it.
But my close encounter with Pope Francis reminded me that the gift of being present to even our most routine tasks of service is joy. –Colleen Mitchell
So do one thing. Do it a little better each time, and move on to the next best thing to do. With God’s grace, we’ll all have our days run a bit more smoothly and joyfully.