Scott has been out of town on business. And while I miss him terribly, we are doing fine. We really are. As far as I am aware, the kids ate every meal this week. Some on the go, some with friends, and some standing around the kitchen, but they ate. And they bathed. At least a few times. They made it to school. And practices and games. The laundry is done. The dishwasher run. I was on call twice this week…and Poppa came over to be with the kids. I had to leave home early twice this week…and our neighbor and friend welcomed the kids in as if her own, to bridge the gap and get them on the bus. I had to come home late twice this week…and my older two kids kept watch over the younger two kids. We even made it to two soccer games, a cross country meet and the Surgery Faculty versus Resident Softball game today. Our village rallied around us this week.
More than once, I was asked, “Wow! How do you do it all?” I never really know how to answer that question. Because some days, the answer is, “I freaking suck it up and I hardly sleep and I just get crap done!” Some days, I say, “Well, I have a ton of help–I know my village and I am not afraid to call on them.” And some days, “Well, I don’t. I wanted to, but today, I just gave up.”
Ironically, this is the same week that my partner and I have been working towards a deadline on a project to describe how we manage personal and professional lives. As if we are some sort of experts. As if we have it figured out. (Insert massive eye roll here). So as I was taking a conference call while driving to soccer practice on Wednesday and replying to “urgent” texts in the Target check-out line, I was feeling a little guilty about any insinuation that I had somehow figured out something that other working parents are struggling with. Cause I am totally sure that I don’t have this life figured out any better than the next guy.
But I did feel more peaceful this week. I felt more calm and happy than I have during other weeks in the past when Scott has been gone or when I have been equally busy. What in the world was the difference this time? I don’t know for sure, but I believe it was no accident that my partner and I were working on the project this week. It kept front and center the discussions we had about how essential it is to identify purpose and measure success against how true I am staying to my core values, not how many boxes I checked off my TO-DO list.
Standing in the chilly, damp field waiting for the cross country meet to start, Sam grumbles, “But I don’t want to watch Jack run!” You know what Sam, me either. It’s cold and my Raynaud’s is killing me. All I can see is the loads of muddy laundry coming my way later today. I am hungry. My coffee titers are low. I don’t want to watch. But I want to be here.
Almost 20 years ago, I penned a simple little mission statement. “To know, love, and serve God. To know, love, and serve His people.” I know that serving God’s people means seeing my TO-DO list through the lens of service to my God. And being at Jack’s cross country meet isn’t the number one activity I would choose for a Saturday morning. But when I understand that “doing it all” isn’t about checking things off the list, but fulfilling my mission, it’s easier to not do some things. It’s easier to cross off (without completing!) tasks that I come to understand don’t actually fulfill my mission in the first place. Because I don’t feel successful for reorganizing a closet when it means a “mission critical” moment is ignored in it’s place. But I do feel good about going to the cross country meet, because that’s “serving God’s people” by building relationship with my son(s).
Maybe we should quit asking each other, “How do you do it all?” and instead ask, “What is your mission? Did you give up enough “mission non-critical” TO-DOs, to fulfill your mission?”Disclaimer: My viewpoints are not necessarily reflective of my employer, or any local, regional or national organization that I belong to. As a matter of fact, I pretty much just speak for myself. Please keep that in mind.