A few years back I made the decision to keep my son at the school that we had moved away from. He doesn’t do well with change and I was in a position where I could drop him off and pick him up without issues. When I got offered a job as far away from his school as I could possible go in the city, it was only for five or six hours a day, so I took it and left him at the school. My schedule soon changed to full 7 or 8 hour days but I wasn’t going to switch schools halfway through the year, so I had to find after school care. There happened to be a boys and girls club at school fifteen minutes north of his school, so I had him bused there after school. He already went there for Cub Scouts on Wednesday night. This now meant that I was commuting two hours per day, and didn’t get home until 90 minutes before bedtime – so it was a quick dinner, bath and bed. Wednesday nights were even longer – and to top it of they asked me to run the Beaver Scouts which of course I had to do even though it wasn’t even my sons group. I was working in a toxic workplace at a job I needed to take home with me, I needed to plan for Beaver Scouts on my own time, I was volunteering at my church all while attempting to have positive relationships with all of my loved ones.
The reason I was doing this: Love.
The reasons why this wasn’t love: It was producing no fruits of love. I was burnt out, late all the time, I wasn’t enjoying it. I was losing patience with the situation and nobody was getting the best version of me.
It wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong. I was serving – which is what I love to do – until I became an over-functioning zombie that was resentful, spiritually disconnected and drained. I honestly believed that I was living according to my values, but if you were actually look at my schedule you would find that I was running constantly and what little exhausted downtime I had I would watch TV to try and shut down.
I wasn’t doing what I have been uniquely called to do, I was not looking after my own well being and I was not positioning myself to parent successfully. It is hard to teach, love and encourage while eating McDonald’s in a car on route to family night at the church or talent night at the school. I was wearing busy like a badge of honour on my wonder woman cape.
Tired of having short conversations with me from my car while I complained about my day, my now fiance encouraged me off my crazy treadmill. I didn’t get off willingly, but when I did it changed our conversations and as a result changed the quality of our relationship.
My hope is that my son will look back on his childhood and remember when I took it off. I hope he remembers the long bike rides, the slow scrabble games, the lazy nights with popcorn and superheroes and afternoons in the park. That year that I lived without joy and stillness is enough of a vivid reminder to never get to that point of over-functioning again.