Monday, November 3, 2014

This is your life. Be here. Say yes.

I came across this little gem on Facebook yesterday. My husband's cousin's daughter posted it from Patricia Polacco's page. (And I'll leave it to the genealogists of the bunch to figure out how she and I are related.)

Sounds pretty easy, huh? In some ways it is that easy. But it's also really quite complicated.

You know what's necessary to make that list happen in real, actual life instead of a cute, brightly markered poster on facebook? Time.

Sounds pretty easy, huh? In some ways it is that easy. But it's also really quite complicated. (Do you sense a theme here?)

For starters, everyone gets hungry quite often and the dog needs to go to the vet and the toilets need scrubbing and the laundry. Oh, the laundry. Then there's the commute to work and the aging parents' doctor appointments and the misplaced school picture form and the overtime to pay for braces.

Sometimes it feels like everyday life can get in the way of good parenting, good marriages, good friendships, and good living. We are pulled in lots of directions. Volunteer and sports and work and church and birthday parties and social media and making meals for sick friends and. . . well, you know. You know what makes the list at your house.

But just because we're pulled in a lot of directions doesn't mean we have to go. You hear that? Because sometimes I don't hear that.

We don't have to go.

We can stay right here. It's not easy, to be sure, but it is possible. It's not sexy; it's not the thing to do.

The thing to do is having so much on our plates that we can go on and on about what we have going on every single day this week and planning life four months in advance and maybe I can squeeze you in next Friday and how in the world will we get it all done and life is so stressful and when will we get a break?

Somehow overscheduled became the norm. Somehow stressed and stretched and dinner on the go and tag team parenting became the norm.

I'm not suggesting we all live off the grid, dig up the landscaping to plant a garden that will sustain the family, get rid of the internet, and start darning socks. That's just weird. (Unless it works for your family and then go for it. But then how are you reading this without the internet??? Anywhoooo.)

I'm suggesting we take a step back, really look at our family calendars, and prioritize so we can say yes more, build rockets, catch snowflakes on our tongues, stop yelling "hurry up" or "come on, we need to get to (fill in the blank.)"

Here's what that looks like in our family. Our kids really love to ski and snowboard. Our boys also love basketball. Both of these things happen in the winter. We decided that since we will be so close to ski resorts and that is their favorite activity, they will not join basketball. We'll get a hoop for the yard and they can play with friends and at open gym, but we will not commit to practices in the evenings.

Also, Audrey loves dance, but is curious about other sports as well. Dance goes from September to June, so in the past she has danced during the school year and uses the summer to try out one or two other sports in sports camps. Someday she may decide to stop dance in order to play something else more seriously, but this works for her and for our family schedule for now.

It's not rocket science. In fact it's all things we've heard before and know to be true. You have to say no to some things to say yes to the things that really matter. It's also not easy. At first the boys were disappointed about basketball. Seeing the mountains in Colorado definitely helped the situation. Audrey wonders if she should join a different sport, then starts dancing again and loves it every single day. There is give and take, disappointments and tough conversations. But in our family there are two parents for three kids and a baby and one of the parents travels often and has an unpredictable schedule so we have to make life work for all of us. There is no sense in being oversheduled, busy, and miserable. There is no sense in rushing through life because this life is it.

Why don't we get that? This life is it. These 18 years, give or take thanks to boomerang parenting, with our kids is it. Where are we trying to go in such a hurry? We know how quickly it's passing. We all see it with each birthday celebrated and each milestone accomplished. Yet we continue to rush and hurry and prod them along like toddlers with teeny little legs trying to keep up with big siblings at the park. The finish line is the finish line. They move out and the dishwasher only needs to be unloaded once a day and the washing machine wonders where all the stinky teenage clothes went and we sit down to open that book we've been looking forward to reading and listen to the silence we waited so long to hear and realize how much we miss the ruckus. (Don't even try to tell me I'll miss the laundry.) That day will come no matter what. Why do we want to get there in such a hurry?

One thing I looked forward to about our time in Omaha was that we would have zero outside commitments aside from Jim's very busy work schedule. In our regular life, we allow each big kid to be in one activity per season and then we had two in piano during they day and Isaac had church stuff on Wednesday. We had co-op twice per month. It doesn't sound like a lot, but because there are three of them, it adds up quickly. Add a baby and the stress and uncertainty we all felt about having our house on the market and we were ready for a break. In that way, Omaha is like a little break from real life. Here's my planner. And it's looked like this every week we've been here.

Because our schedule is wide open, I am saying yes more. We've been to the zoo five times in seven weeks. We are exploring the city more. Playing name that tune with hula hoop interpretive dance more. Having 8 am dance parties more. Reading more books. Baking more cookies. Giving more hand massages. Breathing deeply and calmly.

I've talked plenty about the downsides of this time in Omaha, but there have been some really important, beautiful moments here. My baby learned to walk here and discovered the simple fun of watching the trash truck. Elliot and I discovered the fun of the Moomintroll books here. Audrey remembered how much she loves hula hooping. Isaac got his first guitar. We slowed down and said yes.

Was it perfect? Good grief, no, has it ever been? Was it good? Heck yes, isn't it usually?

Moral of the story. Drop your life and move to Omaha. Ummmm, no way.

Instead, decide how you want to live your life and live it. Decide how to make more time for yes. Maybe it's joining a freezer co-op so dinner is a no-brainer every night. Maybe it's dropping one extra curricular activity per season. Maybe it's adding Friday night game night. Maybe it's hiring a cleaning person if that's in your budget. Maybe it's setting a Christmas budget so you don't have to work overtime. I don't know what it is for you. I'm still working on what it is for me once we're back to real life in Colorado. I just know I have a picture of the live I love and I am ready to live it.

What does this look like in your life? What do you miss out on in the hustle and bustle of life? What could you say no to in order to say more yeses? 

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