Dear working women,
“We cannot parent like we don’t have jobs, and work like we don’t have children.”
I’m not sure who spoke those words, but I’m completely confident it was a woman, and I know she’s absolutely correct.
We were supposed to be the enlightened generation that would have it all. We are expected to pursue important careers, be loving spouses, and become the most devoted mothers the world has ever seen. #Ihavethebestlife #dontyoutoo. I mean, really. What is that about? There are only 24 hours in a day, and at some point we need to spend at least a couple of those asleep.
First, let’s take a moment and breathe. I know it can be exhausting. No, I know it’s nearly always exhausting. You’re constantly being pulled in multiple directions, and somehow you deliver again and again. You have to be everything to everybody, and sometimes that means leaving yourself behind so you can be who someone else needs you to be. I get it. Really.
When my business partner and I decided to start Care to Change, we knew the great need in our community. And, with my experience as a prior executive director I knew what would be expected of me. There’s planning, hiring, tax and legal requirements, building issues, financials, community meetings, program evaluation etc… Quickly, the nine hours of work becomes 11 and I often find myself bringing the laptop home for after the kids go to sleep. Don’t get me wrong — I love every minute of this work. I love seeing lives changed. But we’ve served almost 1,000 families in the short time we’ve been open… and it just seems there are never enough minutes in the day to do what everybody else expects and to meet all the needs. Can I get a witness?
You want to know a little secret? There will never be enough minutes when we run around trying to meet everyone’s needs. As women, we’ll never be able to accomplish absolutely everything we want to do or thing we “should” do. If you’re looking for “balance” you’ll never find it. It’s an elusive goal set by someone else, living a life unknown to this generation. So do yourself a favor and just stop. Press the pause button for a minute and breathe. Seriously. When was the last time you felt yourself breathe?
This past week I scheduled some time away without the noise of my phone, emails, and anyone else. I visited The Dome, in Ferdinand, Indiana. Surprisingly, I left my cell phone in my assigned room without much thought. Actually, I couldn’t wait for an excuse to rid myself of the that millstone. (Lesson #1. Schedule time to put that thing down!) But for the first 24 hours I felt my body wishing for movement – not the kind of movement that includes healthy exercise. No, it was the kind of movement of “what’s next” or “when do I need to be (fill in the blank). My mind was revving like an engine of a car in neutral, waiting for the light to turn green. I’ve grown so accustomed to racing to the next appointment, that my body has actually begun expecting it. (Lesson #2. Schedule time with nothing planned.) After about 24 hours of silence and 10 hours of sleep (yes, 10 – that’s t.e.n.), I woke up feeling ready to find my breath, not in a mythical, vudu type way, but the kind of deep cleansing, healing breath necessary to recharge from the speed that life has been running for so long.
These past three nights were glorious. It wasn’t a conference, a training, or even a girls weekend away. It was time for deep, meaningful reflection. And please know this: I scheduled these three days almost six months ago. It took me that long to find the time. And as the days were nearing for my departure, I thought many times of all the reasons I shouldn’t go, and all the reasons why it could just wait… I’m so glad I didn’t bow to that temptation.
Here’s the thing. We cannot expect ourselves to work like we don’t have responsibilities at home, and we cannot give ourselves so much to responsibilities at home that we lose who we are, that we don’t hear from our Sustainer, much less forget the purpose we were given. It’s tragic when we let life take charge and we burn ourselves out meeting all the demands of everyone around us. Ladies, you are worth the time out. Even if it means scheduling it months in advance. The kingdom work you do, at home, in your jobs, and with those who need from you – it is much too important to get the ragged, worn out version of you.
It is essential to pause and remember our purpose so that we can ride the waves of good days and bad days. Pull out your calendar and schedule yourself even just an hour. With no phone. No person to interrupt. Just solitude. To breathe. To refresh. To listen. To restore.
If you having difficulty coming to terms with caring for yourself, meeting expectations of others or even setting boundaries, please call us. We’d love to help you. If you’re looking for a time to begin learning how to pause, I’d recommend attending the The Well this fall. And if you’d like to plan time for solitude at the Dome, tell them I sent you. You’ll be glad you went. My guess is your family will thank you too.
From the heart of working mom and wife who understands,