It’s been a while. For the past (almost) two weeks, I’ve been living in a stuffed head, sore-throated fevered fog. It’s somewhat ironic how my challenge for March is to rest. And then I was really forced to rest. And pop Tylenol and drink fluids and consume cough candies like bonbons. Last week was March break, and while we had so many plans, the girls and I were stuck in bed, sicker than sick, battling colds, fevers, ear infections and all around discomfort. It was not fun. (A big shout out to Jeff, who was so patient with us all, taking the night shift with the girls and loving all of us despite our snot crusted faces.)
I think it’s safe to say that most moms out there have a hard time being sick. We’re always on. We literally don’t get sick days….ever. This past week and a bit has not been the greatest, to say the least. Yet at the same time, it has forced me to rest, to be still. It allowed for space and time to reflect on what it means to rest, and the inevitable healing that comes from rest. Ultimately, resting forced me to realize, head-on, how much value I put on being busy – how I determine my worthiness through my busyness.
Now, before I begin, I want to state that being a busy person is not necessarily a bad thing. I truly believe that there are those of us who succeed in busy situations – and there are times in life when those people are truly, indubitably necessary. We tend to be the people who thrive under pressure, who love accomplishing tasks, who are great at managing and delegating. In and of themselves, these things are not bad. But finding my worth in these things is where the danger lies. While I laid in bed sick this past week, I had plenty of time to contemplate what motivates and drives me to be obsessed with busyness.
My story begins about eight years ago, three weeks before our wedding when my lung decided to spontaneously collapse. After surgery and appointments with my lung specialist, I was told that my current career as a hairstylist was detrimental to my health. I had to quit. Suddenly, I was thrown into the newness of married life while being abruptly forced to quit my career. Coupled with that came a huge sense of guilt that I wasn’t contributing financially to our marriage. And so, I quickly became busy. I made elaborate meals (each.and.every.night.), I cleaned our little apartment religiously, and as soon as the doctor gave me a clean bill of health, I acquired a myriad of part-time jobs just to prove that I wasn’t lazy, that I was still important.
Enter motherhood. That first year of maternity leave was bliss. I had acquired a bunch of new mom friends who were all in the same boat as myself. We were all figuring out this thing called parenthood while bringing in our maternity benefits paychecks. And then suddenly, that first year was done. The majority of my friends all returned to work. And so began my journey as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. (I didn’t have a job to return to that warranted paying for day care. In a nutshell, it made more financial sense for me to stay home.)
That’s when I went from being busy to very busy. In my personal circle, being a stay-at-home-mom is very much in the minority. While our mothers’ generation likely felt guilt about being the mom who returned to work in a world full of stay-at-home-moms, I inversely felt guilt at being one of the only moms not balancing both a career and motherhood. So I got busy. I had to prove that I could still be interesting, relevant and important in a world that often suggests staying home with your kids turns your brain into mush.
The cycle continued with my second pregnancy and the birth of our daughter, Elsie. I piled responsibilities, school, volunteer opportunities all on my lap. These things were not wrong or bad. However, my reason for doing them was oh so wrong! I was striving so hard to find my identity in these obligations. I was thirsting for approval from those around me that I was still relevant, still valuable. I was straining so hard in my busyness that I know I’ve let moments pass me by that I will never get back again.
I’m thankful to say over the past year and a bit that I’ve become a lot more comfortable in my own skin, in the journey that God has called me to. I’m thankful for a Father who sees beyond my striving, a God who calls me to rest and to just be, a Saviour who provides me with a new identity in Him. I’m thankful that I’ve started to learn to savour the moments, realizing that time goes by far too quickly. I’m grateful that God has unveiled to me that the perfect spot for me to be right now is at home with my two precious girls. While I acknowledge that I’ll likely always be a busy person (and that’s ok!), my prayer is that I will rest in my identity as a daughter of the King, rather than basing my existence on my never-ending to-do list.