Thursday, March 13, 2014

Moving beyond juggling

An old youth group friend of mine, mother of two young sons, has a blog she calls her “Balancing Act.” I admire that term, because it seems like a better goal than what I’ve been feeling like of late, which is more akin to juggling or plate spinning. Rather than strive for equilibrium, it’s been more about keeping everything moving forward without letting any one priority crash to the floor.

Some of this madness is joyful. My sister just spent a few days in town from California, a blessed interruption in our daily schedule (Kristie and I even had a dinner out at a restaurant with no menus on the walls). Isaac is transitioning well into his crib, but it’s a process. Charlie has been doing very well at working his way out of diapers. Jack insisted we go see the musical at his school, and Max insisted he be allowed to come along.

Certainly there have been hassles, many originating with an historically brutal Midwest winter. But we’ve (so far, knock on wood) been able to avoid illness, haven’t had any problems with the house since September and I’ve burned thousands of calories shoveling the driveway. Plus the day in, day out obligations of four children…

…and that’s what I managed to write the night of Feb. 19, before Isaac woke up and had to be soothed back to sleep. The next night I found myself surprisingly sick to my stomach. It only lasted a few hours, but since then the craziness of life resumed. Around the first of March I started to lose my voice — it’s not yet all the way back — the main complication of which has been intense difficulty in reading bedtime stories.

There have been thoughts to share on and off since my last post on Christmas. A few on my kids, a few on my parenting successes and failures (mostly the latter) and way too many on the heartbreaking tales of struggle and loss I’ve encountered among friends in recent weeks.

Along the way I’m working on re-imagining this project a hair — giving myself a 500-world limit and admitting life is just too busy to present decent writing each day. I’ve made the choice to focus more on the act of parenting than spending time writing about the job. That said, I do miss how trying to meet a nightly deadline made me think frequently about my approach to dad life and if I was living the goals I expressed in writing.

Even thinking about this stage of life as balancing as opposed to juggling seems like a positive step. There are many, many challenges. But there is so much to enjoy, so many reasons to feel absolutely blessed. Sometimes the most important balancing act is the one that plays out in my heart and mind, adjusting my approach to life such that I’m in the right position to be the husband and father my family deserves.

A prayer for March 13:

Lord, help me find the time each day to calm myself, settle my mind and open my heart to your will. Lead me along your intended path, and help me teach my children to do the same. Amen.

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