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Just saying, "NO."
Why did we do this to ourselves?
Do you ever feel like all you do is run as quickly as you can from one obligation to another? Do you hear yourself saying, "Hurry!" to your kids more often than you'd like? Do you eat more meals while driving than you do at the table with your family? Is it possible you're doing these things so much you aren't even aware because it's the only life you know anymore?
That's us. We aren't even the busiest family we know, and we feel stretched desperately thin most of the time.
The two-year-old stays in a private home during the day. We adore the lady who keeps her and can't imagine placing her back in day care. She struggles with mild sensory processing issues, and the lady with whom she stays has experience working with this particular set of challenges. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to get to her house each morning, and she lives in the 180-degree opposite direction of my office. Once I arrive at her home, I have to backtrack 15 minutes(ish) and travel the additional 20 to 30 minutes to work on the north side of the parish. Depending on how traffic flows, it can take a little more than an hour to get her dropped off and get to work.
The eight-year-old and the six-year-old go to school very near our home, but they can't be dropped off until 7:25 when the school opens. When we had only one car for several months, all five of us piled into the Suburban every morning at 6:50. The kids brought their breakfast along for the ride and ate in the car so we didn't have to get them up any earlier than necessary. We all rode together to drop off the youngest and looped back to the school to drop the other two off as close to 7:25 as we could. I barreled down the interstate as fast as traffic would allow to drop my husband off at his office and then came out to mine. At 5 p.m., I started the process over by picking up my husband, heading out to get the youngest and stopping on the way home to get the other two girls. If my husband had to work late, I had to get the girls and come all the way back north to pick him up.
On Girl Scout days, I had to start the whole process earlier so I could be at my husband's office at 5 so we could drop him off at home and get to Girl Scouts a little before 6 p.m. I was the leader and had to be there to greet everyone, so it was important to be on time. When it was over, we ran home as fast as we could, grabbed whatever quick dinner we could find, ran the kids through the bath and teeth-brushing assembly line, checked homework and hurried them into bed as close to a normal time as possible.
On tumbling days, one of my husband's coworkers usually dropped him off at Powerhouse so I didn't have to pick him up. Tumbling started at 5:30, and we were lucky to get home by 7. We usually tried to grab something to eat on the way home so we didn't have to cook. Since tumbling started earlier than Girl Scouts, the girls didn't always get done with their homework before I picked them up, so we had to tack that on to the end of the evening before they went to bed.
Of course, as you picture all this chaotic rushing about, you have to envision it taking place in my Earth-destroying, soul-crushing, gas-guzzling Suburban. I'm tired and broke just thinking about it.
We now have two cars once again, so one of us leaves at 7 to drop off the youngest, and the other takes the older girls to school. It's still a major coordination effort, though, and the two-year-old is still eating breakfast in the car every morning. We don't like to wake up Diva Daughter any sooner than absolutely necessary. It's bad enough having to wake up her two older sisters - The Grumpus and Whiney Marie.
Having two cars does help a little, but I still feel like we spend too much time rushing from one thing to the next. When do we get to just stop for a second and breathe? If this is what we're teaching our kids is normal, what will their lives be like when they have kids of their own? I do not want my grandbabies to have to live like this!
Weird, I know, but I think of these things.
Attitude is everything.
If attitude is everything, then my everything has been pretty much nothing lately. As we geared up for the school year, the list of things we "HAVE" to do was getting longer and longer...and longer...
"No," I thought. "No, no, NO."
So I adopted the "NoMoGoGo" attitude, and you're welcome to adopt it for your own life. My new attitude is this: if it doesn't serve an enriching purpose or generate unfathomable joy for my family and we have other things we want or need to do, we aren't doing it anymore. Whatever "it" is. It doesn't matter.
We will, of course, go to school and work. There are certain things that do have to be done.
It's the extracurricular things with which we have chosen to clutter our lives that become the problem, and it's those things that we're stepping back from. We won't go. No more going. NoMoGoGo. I can't. Other people do twice or three times the amount of things we do, and they manage it all for themselves and multiple children without complaining. I have no idea how or why they do it, but good for them. I'm happy they're Super Achievers.
Give my participation trophy to those folks because I. AM. DONE.
My kids are snapping, "HURRY!" at each other when we aren't even late. We eat in shifts in the car or in front of the TV. My husband and I go two or three days without really talking to each other to the point that when we do finally get a minute after the girls are in bed, we end up talking until 1 a.m., which makes us even more tired the following day when we have to get up to start the whole chaotic process over and struggle through our day being desperately tired and thinking how if we just had one extra hour in the day, things would be so much easier and wishing for just one night off, and....
*G A S P I N G*
No. Just stop. NoMoGoGo!
It's silly. I know.
It makes me laugh, though, and laughing is something I haven't done nearly enough of for quite a while. It reminds me of something my Diva Daughter would say with her chubby, two-year-old finger wagging in the face of one of her smother-mothering sisters. I like it. It says exactly what I want to say without wasting time with a lot of words, and stopping time wastage is what I'm all about right now.
Girl Scouts - love it. I've been a troop leader for three years, and I think it has been a more wonderful experience for me than it has been for the girls with whom I've been privileged to work. But it takes more effort than I have available right now to create lesson plans, gather supplies, plan activities, communicate with 24 sets of parents/grandparents/guardians, remember Council rules and coordinate meetings around everyone's schedule. As much as I will wholeheartedly miss it, I have to step back.
Tumbling - love it. Our girls learned a lot in their year at Powerhouse, and we're happy we put them in classes. The monthly expense of it and the constant rushing to get there before warm-ups added to how late we were getting home just make it a NoMoGoGo equation. If A has to be added to B to get me, count me out. My equation is subtraction right now, not adding!
My job - L. O. V. E. It. My job has evolved to the greatest professional place I've ever been in my 21-year career. The work is challenging yet fulfilling. I'm wearing several different hats, but I'm able to juggle them fairly well. My boss makes me feel like I'm part of something special taking place in our community, and I appreciate her feedback and encouragement. She has helped me grow and evolve at a time when I thought I was stuck in my choices, and I like walking through the doors each day to start something new. The problem is that I don't always know when I might have to work a little later than usual, so it's impossible to make an ongoing commitment to most things. I guess if I don't look for another job, it falls into the "get what you get and don't pitch a fit" category, but still. It does make it difficult to juggle family responsibilities when your kiddos have full calendars.
Birthday parties - they're okay. I'm not always a fan of the birthday party circuit. Once, we have four birthday parties in one day. We were eating in the car, hoping the middle child (who was the youngest at the time) could survive without a nap and figuring out how much to spend to not break the bank with the number of gifts we were buying, some of which were for kids to whom my kids weren't even that close. NoMoGoGo, I tell you! If my kid is your kid's good friend or if you and I are friends, we will try our best to be there. If you're some random child who my child barely knows and we don't even know your last name or who you're friends with that we might know, do not expect to see any of us darkening the party door.
Sorry, not sorry.
The list could go on endlessly, but I won't bore you. Suffice it to say, we are backing off on all these extra calendar cloggers that aren't essential.
The essentials are easy: family and faith. We're going to spend more time doing the things that matter, such as eating dinner together at our table, having family game night and listening to our kids rattle about their day without interrupting to tell them to wrap it up or hurry. We're going to get to know our way around our new church home and maybe join a Life Group. It'll be a good chance for the kids to make new friends, and we can all use a little recentering about our Earthly purpose on a regular basis.
We used to do all those things, and we truly enjoyed each other's company. Now, my husband and I hear bitter versions of ourselves constantly telling the kids to "hurry up" or "give me the Cliffs' Notes version of this story." We're all snippy with each other much more than we used to be, and our girls believe this is how it's supposed to be and how it should be.
So we're taking back our control. For this school year, the only things we're doing are going to work and school and going to church on Sundays and sometimes on Wednesdays (the kids adore it, and I found a group I like, so it's really like a fun, relaxing, mid-week treat and not another have-to). We'll have time to do things like hike to the top of Driskill Mountain, which we did last weekend as a way to help our oldest see something she had studied in class. We'll have time to reinstitute family game night so our middle child can go back to kicking our rears shamelessly at everything we play, which is a wonderful ego boost for her and a humbling lesson in accepting defeat for our oldest. We'll have time to sit on the couch to check homework and go over every line to ensure they not only can repeat what they learned but that they understand it.
We'll just have time, which is something we haven't had in far too long.
It's such a freeing feeling, and I highly recommend you give the NoMoGoGo attitude a chance. Why do you HAVE to do dance or ball or scouts or karate or a million other things? Wouldn't it be great to save that money for a family vacation or a new car or getting out of debt? When you get to the end of your life and look back at how you spent your time, do you want it to look like a blur of interstate, car-bound meals and snippiness? Will you see a family or a bunch of strangers running from one thing to another in the name of pursuing what makes you happy? Do you even remember what happy truly feels and looks like anymore?
Me either, but we're about to find out.