Life involves a lot of choices. Sometimes the choice is between two bad or difficult things. Sometimes the choice is between a difficult, but worthy thing and an easier, more comfortable thing.
But sometimes, one must choose between a good thing and another good thing.
I have been re-evaluating my life, my mission, my purpose, my whatever-you-want-to-call-it. We finally settled down after the move, after the surgeries, after the newest addition to our family. It was time to find my way again. For eight months now I have been looking at different aspects of my life and my family's life.
Being a stay-at-home mom can be rough in the area of "personal fulfillment". Not that it is all about me. It isn't. That is kind of the point. We sacrifice a lot for me to stay at home. Earlier in our marriage, ArtGuy was the one at home while I worked outside the home. But the Catholic Church pays a whole lot less than advertising and design, so ArtGuy gets the corner office and commute and I get diaper and laundry duty!
Anyway, back to me. Not that it is all about me.....really.....
I have been at home now for 10 years, almost 11. As time has gone on, I have found, like many other stay-at-home moms, my sense of self slipping away. As much as I am willing to sacrifice for my family, as much as I pour myself out in loving service to my husband and children, if I cut out everything outside my family - if I do not nurture who I am - I damage myself and my whole family. We are not meant to be faceless, expressionless automatons, but lively people of character.
God calls each person to a unique expression of self, and to different works. Some women I know find total fulfillment in those works of the home - cleaning, creating a beautiful environment, cooking, teaching, birthing, and raising children. I think it is lovely. But even these women need nurturing themselves, be it through mom's night outs, book clubs, or crocheting class. But some of us who are called to be in the home hear a call outside the home as well. It can get quite confusing. It requires a daily humbling of self before God, asking "What do you want me to do with these feelings?"
Over the past few months, I have been seeking ways to nurture my family and myself.
So I find myself in the position now of having too many wonderful things to chose from, so many things and ways to be involved in the community, in personal development, in enrichment for my family and myself. An embarrassment of riches, indeed!
I have been struggling with looking at my schedule for the coming school year. I have been questioning what paths I should take, and feeling guilty for not getting involved in some things or groups I feel I should be more a part of.
So, I went to Artguy for advice. Poor ArtGuy. Usually when I talk to him and he tries to advise me, I yell, "Stop trying to solve my problems, and just listen to me"! Now I had to assure him several times that I actually wanted his advice before he gave it to me! His advice was so, so good. He told me to categorize all the activities in question, and see if they were balanced. For example, as I looked at my schedule, he told me to group all the activities that really just benefitted the kids into one group, ones that were just for my enjoyment in another, spiritual activities in a third, family things in a fourth, and so on. If I saw that most of the activities fell into just one or two groups, then it was unbalanced. If they were evenly spread out, then I could feel better that I was not neglecting any one area.
That was great advice!
So, now I can see that things are pretty balanced. So that is good. Now I have to evaluate my committment level to different groups and events. Some of my activities require a huge gift of self. Coaching the First Lego League team is an example of that. In order to do the job right, I need to devote a good chunk of time and energy to this group, until the season is over. I am getting a lot of out learning a new field, challenging my brain, and working with a wonderful group of kids.
Some activities only require basic skills - like driving kids to sports practices and dance classes. Time commitment - moderate, personal commitment - low, personal fulfillment - low. One of my new activities is being in a group that is learning all about Latin chant. We have formed a schola and are working through the basics of chant. It is all so cool. It is exciting to learn something new, especially about church music, which was losing all sense of wonder for me. Time commitment - moderate, personal commitment - moderate, fulfillment level- high.
And so it goes. Some things I have had to accept that I am either not going to be involved in at all, or only in a small way. There is only so much one person or one family can do. Sometimes I feel guilt over it. Not that I am really letting anyone down, but because I feel guilty for letting a good thing go.
I have to keep reminding myself of something I heard at a retreat several years ago - not every good thing is good for me right now.
Sometimes we have to choose between a good and a good. And that is okay!