I want to freeze time. To capture the light blonde and brown tendrils that fly all wispy as my daughters dance around the kitchen putting on “dinner entertainment” for daddy . He eats and laughs, more amused by these two under 4 ft. tall than he probably ever imagined he’d be. I want to put their little sing-song voices in my leftover packing boxes with heavy packing tape so that they will never escape me. I want these little years– the ones when they want to play all day – and beg me to stop doing laundry so they can just be with me for 5 minutes — to last.
As I was trudging up the stairs exhausted the other night, I tried to recap in my mind all the things I had accomplished during the day. I became a little agitated because I couldn’t think of many things I had crossed off my growing to-do list. But then I remembered the important 2 hours I’d spent crawling on colored carpet squares.
The girls and I had gone with Ben to the church where he works because I was meeting some friends there, and since we needed to wait for his meetings to end before leaving, we spent the whole day there.
We went into the K-5 room which has these fun, colorful carpet circles and began inventing all different kinds of games. I was a chomping alligator in hot lava while they were toads hopping from circle to circle. I was the leader of a secret “flower” club up on the little play balcony. We were robots that could only jump to certain colored islands.
We ran and laughed and played till we were slap-happy with fatigue. And while those 2 hours of fun were clearly not on my list of things that really needed to get done, I went to bed feeling satisfied that night.
I’ve noticed that since living in a walkable area and having the ability to run a lot more of the errands during the day, my days are sometimes packed. I also took on a part-time job scoring essays from home this month, so the to-do lists seem to be multiplying.
I ended up needing to create a separate list of things entitled “important things”, and I try to make sure that even if some of the things on my regular to-do lists don’t get accomplished, I at least do the important things each week.
Most of the important things involve people, and one of those is my 82-year-old grandmother who lives 3 blocks away and recently was told to stop driving. This a little more difficult for her because she doesn’t have the strength of a 33-year-old to walk all over town like I do. So one of the new “important things” on my list each week is to take the girls to visit her– not out of obligation or anything, but because I value time with her and know it helps lighten her day at a difficult time in her life.
Sometimes this means grabbing a 45-minute window of time, leaving the kitchen a mess or a chore undone, to go spend time with her. And while I wasn’t raised to be okay leaving a mess, I think sometimes in order to put people first in our lives– not our houses or material things– it’s necessary. Obviously, there comes a time when things really do need to get cleaned up, and I don’t want us living in a disgusting mess or anything, but loosening our reigns on how perfect the house should look at all times can open up space for our relationships to grow.
When I’m 82-years old like my grandma, I hope that my phrase of satisfaction reads something like this: “My life is full because I put first things first in my life. I put relationships and people in front of my stuff.” as opposed to, “Wow, I have had a perfectly clean house for the past 82 years– how full and satisfying life is.”
So this post used to end right here, and there was no “part 1” in the title. That was a week ago when I thought that this was the easiest, simplest concept in the world…… when sunny strolls to grandma’s house trumped dirty dishes in the sink (okay, they still totally do, only I’ve realized that sometimes extra complications arise that challenge our ideals…. and that’s why there’s a part 2, so stay tuned if you can relate!)