I have slowed down. A lot. Over the past forty-ish days, I made a conscious effort to minimize my calendar, closet, and cell phone/social media use. In turn, I maximized my presence. Which looked a lot like nothing, until I realized that nothing is the beginning (and end) of everything.
Our society sends us messages all the time about how busy means you’re productive and productivity is a direct result of importance. Somehow being busy has become an indicator of success. And success an indicator of worth. A favorite tag line in this culture: good things come to those who hustle.
Hustle basically means forceful hurrying. And why are we hurrying? Because our calendars are full. Why are our calendars full? Because we are busy. Why are we busy? Because we are important.
The cycle is vicious. And wildly false.
One of my favorite writer/teachers, Jen Pastiloff, says “being busy doesn’t make you important or cool. It just makes you busy.” It just makes you busy.
Here’s the truth: I’m not busy. By this society’s standards. I don’t have a job (by this society’s standards). I stay home with our son. I barely ever cook — who needs to with a Trader Joe’s freezer section nearby? My husband shares housework and yard work with me cuz we are one of those modern families where all the people who live in the house help keep it clean. Ya know those progressive thinkers where adults are actually expected to be adults.
I had much higher hopes for myself when I envisioned being a stay at home mom. I envisioned doing workout DVDs while the baby napped, deep cleaning our home weekly, and even packing my husband’s lunch. (That last one makes me laugh out loud…hard.) I envisioned having my baby on a firm schedule and teaching him about sleeping 12 hours at night. Our current culture is obsessed with sleeping babies. Coincidental? We need our sleep to keep up with our busy lives. Our busy, keep-up-with-the-American-rat-race lives. No wonder why the baby sleep industry is a million dollar one.
The cycle is vicious.
Before this post starts to sound too much like an encouragement to live off the grid and deep in the woods, let me say that yes, good things can come to those that hustle. At the same time, I am learning that good things come to those that slow down, too. And maybe, good things come to those that do nothing. Because, maybe, it’s not about what’s coming to us, as much as it’s about what’s already come; who has already come.
Maybe we already have the good thing we are hustling for.
Maybe we already are the good thing.
So what’s a day in the life of doing “nothing” look like? It looks like waking up slow, good morning kisses, a cup of coffee, a shared meal, goodbye waves in the window, reading books and stacking blocks, blowing kisses and long walks. Naps. Nothing always includes naps. It looks like visiting grandparents and aunts, writing snail mail, video chatting and taking silly pictures. It’s time spent in the yard running through the sprinkler without any regard to how soaked the grass is getting, how muddy your feet are, or if the winter white of your legs is blinding passing cars. There’s no room for self-scrutiny in the sprinklers.
Doing nothing looks like kissing away tears after a tumble, and loud deep breathing in a (sometimes futile) attempt to stay calm while the baby toddler screeches in frustration at you.
It looks nothing like being busy. And for me, it looks everything like being present. I cannot be both, fully. I cannot be busy and present – or as present as I desire to be.
And yes, I am aware that as a stay at home mom I have the luxury of doing “nothing”. But I’m also aware that I have struggled with this transition. Because turns out those messages society has told us became the messages I was telling myself.
I needed to be making money to be of any worth. I needed a fuller calendar to be of any importance.
Do you know how awkward it feels when you get texts from friends about how busy, busy, busy they are and then they ask what you’re up to and you check your phone calendar in hopes of finding anything besides a national holiday marking one of your days?
I was searching for worth, importance, validation in meaningless activity; in forceful hurrying.
What happened when I slowed down? I noticed. So. Much. More. AND. Cared about so much less.
We have one standing appointment every week. Mondays at 11 am. Mama therapy group. That’s it. One measly commitment. And sometimes we don’t even make that because we are napping.
Even still, I am important.
Even still, I am of great worth.
The worst part of parenting is the self-discovery. AND. The best part of parenting is the self-discovery.
Good things do come to those who hustle.
Good things also come to those who stop hustling, sit their asses down on the floor that probably should be swept and stack blocks with their baby.
Good things come to those who realize that we are the good thing.