Often I find myself busy in everyday life, rushing through the simple pleasures. Instead of enjoying my favorite parts of each day, I begin looking forward to a long awaited vacation, three-day weekends, holidays, or any special events thinking they will be amazing, making up for the moments lost to the hustle. The truth is, the extraordinary lies in the ordinary parts of everyday life.
The unexpected giggles as I crack eggs for breakfast before we rush out the door, enjoying the beauty of nature as we walk to the bus, the warmth of my son’s hand as he slips it into mine; these are the moments that make life worth living. Rich beyond measure, the little things are what fill me back up when responsibilities, overscheduled days and long hours of work have depleted my reserves.
As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, full-time employee and so much more, the demands of life are plentiful. I see this reflected in the lives of my friends as well. We work hard to fulfill obligations pushing to the side anything we would truly like to do. At one point last year, I had myself so busy that I began to sacrifice time with my family. I began missing dinners around the table, reading with the boys, evening games of badminton. My values no longer matched the priority of my to-do list.
After talking things over in depth with my husband he agreed I had taken on too much and I needed to simplify. Saying “no” to others would give me the freedom to say “yes” to my family. To myself. The problem was, and still is, saying no is a monumental challenge for me. Helping my family, friends and community are exceptionally important. Being responsible and helping to take care of the community that takes care of me is how I perceive value in myself as well as others. How could I say no? How could I stop giving back?
It was my husband who uncomplicated that issue for me. He reminded me of my strong conviction of our actions speak louder than our words and asked me to think about what my actions were saying. A very uncomfortable moment of clarity struck. My family, my beloveds, were not my first priority. I had bumped them down the list because they were the easiest to disappoint. They would wait for me at home, they would understand. Yikes! What did I want them to understand? That other people and projects were more important than them? That, when they grow up and have families of their own their focus, should be elsewhere? NO! Absolutely not!
The multiple volunteer positions were the first to go, next were all the miscellaneous parties. I began attending only the ones with significance. With the additional time, I found myself back into the nightly routine of dinner, dishes, homework, baths and bed–loving every minute of it.
The daily grind sounds like such a mundane, horrible thing, but truly it is where I find the most satisfaction. Dinner around the table opens the door to deep conversations with those I love most. Dishes are done by the boys giving my husband and I a few minutes of privacy to reconnect after the work day. Homework helps me check in with how school is going with each of the kids. Bath time offers one on one time with each of my sons to talk about anything weighing on their minds.
This is not to say that I have found the answer to life’s demands, our hectic schedules, or that our family lives happily ever after. What I am claiming is that my family is number one in both words and action now. I still deeply struggle to say no when asked to join committees or attend functions that I don’t really want to go to. But I keep my husband’s question close at heart. I ask myself what my actions are saying because, in reality, that is my true self.
While I continue to look forward to escaping to the ocean for vacations, I don’t wish away the days leading up to soaking in the sun. Instead, I linger over morning coffee with my husband, delight in spontaneous trips to the apple orchard, and smile as my family snuggles up with each other on the couch to watch movies. Now I focus on enjoying our extraordinary life in the everyday, ordinary moments.
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