As Socrates said, "Beware the barrenness of a busy life". I don't think I would have understood the truth of that quote 4 years ago. But today, it's a punch in the gut.
As a working mom and wife with 2 jobs, a feisty threenager and oh-so-busy 15 month old, I feel like my life has been filled with constant ball-juggling, plate spinning, multi-tasking, command-barking, hurry up-ing, "please stop whining", and never sleeping. In one moment I'm planning a big dinner program for physicians and medical professionals, while simultaneously making mental notes to remember to take more diapers to daycare, put stain treatment on Elsa's new strawberry covered dress, take out chicken to thaw for dinner, and order more fabric for my side business. I am constantly adding things to my mental to-do list and crossing them off as I go throughout my day. It's never ending multi-tasking and a puzzle of efficiency and perfection. And quite frankly, it's turned me into a no-fun, exhausted human who is swimming in a sea of tasks and doing all she can to just not drown. Whenever someone asks me how I'm doing, I reply, "Oh you know, busy!" which really tells them nothing - yet, reveals everything.
You see, no matter the circumstances we are in, we all can make ourselves too busy. No time for fun - because we have work, activities, diaper bag packing, laundry, dishes (oh, the DISHES), and when those are done we have to meal plan, run errands, travel for work and do more dishes because SURPRISE, the kids ate again and there's always more piling up.
But lately, although my job-related to-do list has pretty perfectly "checked" and I've been working my butt off (figuratively - my actual butt is still definitely back there), unfortunately my relationships with the people whom I love the most in this whole world have taken a back seat. And I recently realized that I had quickly become a version of myself that I didn't recognize - and frankly, one I didn't even remotely like.
It took a long weekend of being miserably sick and unable to do ANYTHING except think and sleep -- both of which I needed tremendously -- to realize that in between the lines of my seemingly important work related to-do lists were 2 little people and 1 amazing husband who were waiting for me in the everyday moments. Moments that I was missing because I was too busy maximizing my time for everything else, and managing their time for them (whether they liked it or not). That realization was a wake up call.
Hello, Alexis!? How much have you been missing?? How much time have you wasted by always trying to create more time?
After some chats with my wise and always insightful hubs, and after doing a little reading, praying and reflecting on my own, I knew that I had to start slowing down and not missing out on the little (yet vastly huge) parts of life.
So as soon as I was slightly on the mend, and even though my to-do list was seemingly unending after days in bed, I told my oldest daughter, Elsa, that it was going to be a special night -- we were going to put her little sister to bed at her regular time, but Elsa would get to stay up late catch fireflies in her new bug catcher she just got for her birthday. I'm pretty sure she wasn't even sure what a firefly was, but just the prospect of staying up past her normal bedtime to do something special with me made her elated - something I hadn't seen as often as I should have.
That evening, we went out and caught turtles and fish in our pond as we waited for the sun to go down. I explained to her that fireflies only come out at a certain time of night, and the window when we can catch them is short; we would have to watch for their lights and catch them quickly, before we couldn't see them anymore. And sure enough, after sunset, we started seeing the magical, little twinkling lights in the grass and amongst the trees. Her eyes lit up much like the little bugs as she watched these tiny little beetles glow. We ran around the neighborhood...giggling, jumping, chatting and catching as many fireflies as we could. She literally squealed and chapped her hands with every.single.catch and would praise, "Good job, mommy!!" with every bug that went into the container. Who knew I was basically an expert firefly catcher (or at least Elsa thought so)? By the end of the night we were sweaty, stinky, and tired, but our hearts were as full as our overflowing container of half-dead bugs.
That night was just one of those magical moments with my sweet baby that will be forever engrained in my mind. The moment where I stopped being busy and just let myself "be". And by doing so, I let myself experience wonder in the every day moments. I couldn't help but draw such a parallel between the fleeting moments in life and those fireflies -- the window when my babies are little is short and those moments pass by quickly like those blinking lights. And although time will never slow down, I can take time to slow MYSELF down. The dishes can wait, work can wait, but my, I can't let those special times with my little tribe wait, because if I wait too long, those flickering moments, like the flashing lights of the fireflies, will be gone.