I have this thing with to-do lists. Like most people, I write them out to remind myself to do things. But I go a step further: I use them as a measure of success.
If I check things off, it’s been a good day. If I don’t, I wallow in defeat.
I’m learning to let this go.
Because, sometimes, it’s OK to let the to-do list sit undone.
When I’ve got 300 emails in my inbox, and my daughter crawls on top of my lap with a book, it’s OK to close the computer and let the messages go unanswered.
When I’ve got four loads of laundry to fold, and my 5-year-old announces that she’s throwing a party in the play room, it’s OK to lay the laundry aside.
When my preschoolers are singing at their school chapel and it’s smack dab in the middle of my work hours at the coffee shop, it’s OK for me to rearrange my schedule so I can be there to watch them.
For far too long, I’ve been that mom who tried to do all things well at the same time.
The myth of the “you can have your cake and eat it, too” is just that–a myth.
I’ve been struggling with something ever since I got home from Costa Rica: the pull between running a business to help provide for my family and being 100% Mommy to my girls.
Regardless of if a mom works full-time outside the home, works from home, or is a stay-at-home mom, I’ve seen a pattern in young moms that I feel we will one day regret if not remedied:
Enslaved to our to-do lists, we’re being robbed of our motherhood.
When the only “quality” time we have with our children is in the mini van, en route to school and ball practice and club meetings and back, we get so little time to mold our little ones’ hearts, to disciple them in the truth, to build a relationship that will transcend the little years and last a lifetime.
Sometimes my heart aches for a village in the mountains of Costa Rica–for a rushing river that stilled the desire for media consumption, for warm conversation on threadbare couches, for piping mugs of coffee and boiling ollá de carne, for sponge baths in basins of water heated on a wood stove, for a misty drive up a volcano and potty breaks on the side of the road in the pouring rain, for the squeals of needy children opening Christmas boxes in July, for the sweet breathe of an indigenous newborn and the yearning eyes of her mother, for the pitter patter of hard rain on tins roofs that doubled as tin ceilings, for a simplicity of life that my heart had been longing for and I didn’t even know it.
My heart changed in Costa Rica.
No longer did more traffic and more money and more exposure matter. All that mattered was being a good wife to my husband, a good mommy to my girls, and using the platform of this blog the way that God wants to use it.
It wasn’t just Costa Rica; it was the summer as a whole:
I spent three weeks with a teenage girl, reminding me that my girls will be there before I know it.
Then, I witnessed my youngest almost choke on a quarter.
I received the news that a friend from my newlywed days lost her battle to cancer at age 36, leaving behind two pre-teens and a husband.
All of these things led to a paradigm shift in me.
Upon returning to the United States, I saw things clearly for the first time in a long time: a country and culture of moms running around like crazy, pulled in every direction, slaves to their iPhones and Facebook accounts, while their children grow up under their noses.
It’s hard to see it when you’re in it.
I don’t want to be that woman anymore.
It’s taken intention, but I’ve gone from working nearly full-time on this blog (which was necessary for a long time, to get to a place of generating the income our family needed) to working less than ten hours per week.
Will it always be this way? Probably not, but, for this season, I’m walking in obedience to working less, loving my family more.
For now, God is calling me to pay more attention to my home and know that He will take care of my business.
To be 100% transparent with you, dear readers, when I got back from Costa Rica, I told my husband I wanted to quit. (Knowing that this blog generates the bulk of our family’s income, he told me this scared him.) And our pastor said: “Erin, God has given you this platform for a reason.”
And, truth be told, when I read your emails and comments and get the rare chance to meet you in person, my heart soars that God could use little, ‘ol me, a mama in the trenches just like you, to make some kind of impact on your life.
I don’t want to lose that, but I feel sure that if I keep my family before you, God will reap what He wants out of this planting.
But if you’ve noticed me not being as present on this blog over the past few months, know it’s for a reason. I’ve had to let many, many items on The Humbled Homemaker to-do list go, so I could nurture the Odom family to-do list more.
I’ve gotten a reputation for being busy. I receive hundreds of emails and social media messages each week, and many of them begin with: “I know you are busy.”
Yes, I am busy, but I no longer want to be busy with the wrong things. I want to say “no” more often so I can say “yes” more to my family and to the ministry God has for me through this blog.
Do you ever let things on your to-do list sit undone? What are some items on your to-do list you need to let go during this season of your life?
p.s. Please write me. Please comment and email. I LOVE reading them. While I cannot always respond, I promise that I read every single one, and they bring me so much joy! I love you, friends! <3