Kevin Lehman has a book entitled It's Your Kid, Not a Gerbil." I haven't read it, but I have heard him referenced at various times and it touches on the question of how busy should we make our kids. Of course, unless you only have one child, busy kids mean even busier parents. We have four kids, each involved in one or two activities. Of course, some of those activities require multiple days. And I can justify each activity in which they participate. And generally, each individual kid does get down time, though Eric and I don't as much because we are coordinating our schedules to make sure our kids get to their activities on time. If our kids are gerbils, then we are hummingbirds.
Every year, in addition to homeschooling, taking care of the house and kids, attending church and church events and trying to get the kids to their appointed activities on time, I have tried to do something "for myself." Every year, I try something that doesn't seem like it would take that much time. Every year, I get totally slammed and stressed out. As our schedule has continually become stretched to the breaking point at times, something inside has been telling me that the things which Eric and I are putting our attention are meaningless and possibly destructive to our family. However, up until now, I have had a hard time really putting these feelings into words because I haven't been able to pinpoint the root or even if what I have been thinking/feeling is right. I have tried to fix things, I have tried to change the way I handle the situations, I have tried everything I know to make the situations better. But there is only so much I can do. I have tried talking to my husband about it, but if I can't put it into words, how can I expect him to understand me?
Up until a few weeks ago, I felt trapped in a gerbil wheel of my own making, but there didn't seem to be an exit. I felt empty, like all I had to give had been spent and I had been burning through reserves for the last two years. God is my helper and my source of strength, but I don't think that when He had Paul write, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13) He meant, "Over-commit your time and energy and use what I give you to barely get through it." I started to break down and I could see in my kid's behavior that something was wrong with them, too.
I know that within five years, two of my kids will be off to college and life might get simpler for us, but do I really want the last few years of my life to be so busy doing that I miss out on being with my kids and enjoying them? Do I want to tell my kids through my decisions and my actions that our value comes in doing and not in being with people? No! Definitely no! Positively no! As I went through a really bad couple of weeks, I realized that I could do one of two things. I could keep MacGuyvering my life with emotional duct tape, chewing gum and hair pins or I could allow myself to break down, let the pieces fall into God's hands and let Him fix the brokenness I had created.
“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;
Good News! God finally gave me the words and had been speaking to Eric so that when I finally was able to speak them, he listened.