There’s No Place Like Home

This Fall was unusually busy for me. In the past two months, I’ve traveled five different times…both for business and for pleasure. I am not usually gone as much as I have been the last couple of months, but traveling is important to me.

I am in a stage of life where my travels are not extravagant. My husband can’t take much time off of work. Traveling with six people is expensive, and my funds are limited. For the times I travel without my kids, my in-laws (who graciously keep my kids) work and can’t take much time off of work either.

Even still traveling is necessary for my soul. Leaving my little sphere of daily life helps me be better. So I do what I can to make this happen. Most trips involve staying with family or friends. I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve stayed at a hotel with our kids. My parents own beautiful vacation homes, so I am very fortunate and not at all sad about our hotel shortage. But it is how we make traveling work.

Getting away from the dailyness of life is so refreshing to me. Living out of a suitcase where I don’t care if things stay tidy is a nice break from my house that overwhelms me at times. I love the carefree living and change of pace.

But the funny thing I’ve discovered from traveling so much recently is that there is no place like home. Even with all the dailyness and stickiness involved.

Having taken so many breaks from the daily rhythm of life, I realized that those rhythms are as good for the soul as traveling is.

So often I get caught up in the “what’s next” for my life. What will we do for school next year? Will our business keep growing? Should I write another book? What will my kids be like when they’re teenagers? Will they be friends when they’re grown?  

And I forget to enjoy what is.

Our human nature compels us to think the next thing will be the best thing. Once my newborn sleep through the night…once my baby learns to walk…starts to talk…potty trains…goes to school…Even though our present reality is the future we once hoped for.

On my most recent trip to the Keys, I found myself longing for the normal parts of my days. My parents have a cleaning lady, but I found myself doing laundry, wiping the counters, and making beds…things I tend to loathe at home.
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As I continued to clean (even though I didn’t have to), I remembered that, as much as the dailyness of life exhausts me, there is no greater privilege than raising children. The daily parts that bog me down cloud the reality of how awesome being a mom is.

If you can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak…and the dailyness of life has become annoying (and even maddening)…taking a break from it may be just what you need. It does not have to be extravagant or expensive…or even far away. Take a day trip to a cool place. Ask a friend if you can visit for a few days. Go visit your mom.

I’ve found that a break from the ordinary is what it takes to restore joy to my daily life.

Because daily life…while it can be so daily…is really where our relationships are strengthened, where our best memories originate, and where we have the constant opportunity to love people well.

I have big dreams to love well and change the world. I just sometimes wish it looked a little more sexy and a little less like serving my family.

Tucking my kids in at night is my most favorite part of the day. Partly because they’re finally in bed…but mostly because I love the one-on-one moments with them. (Most moms loathe tuck-ins…so seriously, no guilt if you don’t do them.)

When I lay with them, all of my boys ask me to tell them a story from when I was a kid. With three boys and 365 days in a year, you can imagine how far back in my memory I must go to come up with new stories…except for my youngest son, who asks me to tell him about going to Chuck E. Cheese every night. The interesting part of this is that my memories are actually very ordinary.

The lavish vacations…the amazing Christmas toys…the delicious restaurants…aren’t really what I remember, as awesome as they all were.

The stories my kids love are the times…

I went to jail. My soccer coach was a probation officer, so we practiced at juvenile hall. I have never actually been to jail.

The time a tree fell on my head at my friend, Ingrid’s house. And also that same year how I couldn’t go to her house because I got pink eye.

The time my boyfriend stopped by my house in 5th grade, and I was so embarrassed I pretended to fall asleep. Then broke up with him the next day. They find this particularly funny.

The time my mom, sister, and I flew out to Vegas (pre-cellphones) and every single hotel in the city was booked. We drove around for hours and finally found one in the wee hours of the morning. I am sure that wasn’t very fun for my mom at the time.

All of these memories are so ordinary. They all happened unintentionally, on just a daily day. Most every interesting/funny/memorable memory I have took place on a random weekday. And there are a million other things that happened for which I have no recollection.

I am not sure if it’s the media, the pressure society puts on parents, or somehow we are overcompensating for something…but we seem to put so much emphasis on making everything SO AMAZING and SO MEMORABLE and SO PERFECT that we forget that ordinary life is actually awesome.

{a holiday sidebar}
This is the thing: I love the magical parts of childhood. I enjoy doing fun things with my kids and for my kids. Even the things that don’t necessarily have lasting value.

The daily things that must be done are unavoidable. My people need food in their bellies, clean clothes, and to occasionally walk through the kitchen without sticking to the floor.

The magical parts of childhood are a choice. And the barometer I use for those choices are “Do I enjoy this? Will this end well? Or will I just yell at everyone?” This is important. I promise kids would prefer you not to do something than to do it angrily. If something causes you that much frustration, then you don’t really like it…and you are probably doing it because you think you should. Just speaking truth. Save the yelling for when ole Aunt Flo comes to town and a meltdown is the only way to get your kids to clean their rooms without complaining. Just speaking truth.

Whatever magical things I do choose, I try to make them yearly traditions…because kids will remember traditions more than the magic. This will, of course, be different for everyone. But my opinion is that it’s more valuable to do a few things well than to do all the things with weeping and gnashing of teeth.
{end holiday side bar}

I understand that getting out of your house for a few days to restore your soul is not always a possibility. Until the last two months, I had barely traveled all year. But soul restoration is an important part of life. So I do this in small ways:

  • I light a candle and listen to a podcast when I clean my kitchen. These little things make that never ending task a little more fun.
  • I sit and enjoy a Diet Coke at some point in the day, ignore my kids, and guiltlessly check social media or watch TV. Moms do not sit down very much. You need to sit sometimes.
  • If I am frustrated and overwhelmed, I take a hot shower. Hot showers can be life-changing.

There are a million little things you could do to restore your soul. Take a few moments to think what those might be for you and do them. I promise those little things matter.

As we are in the midst of the holiday season with the temptation to blow a bunch of money and make the holidays full of magic at any cost…remember hilarious words from the Sorta Awesome podcast: “You know if you don’t get this right, Jesus won’t be born.” Which is a sarcastic way of saying Christmas will still be Christmas with or without homemade cookies, the Elf, and the latest gadget. Go easy on yourself.

My encouragement to moms is always “You do you and do it well.” Do what you enjoy, and your kids will enjoy it by proxy. Forego anything that makes you crazy. This is for the holidays and for everyday.

Mamas, I love you dearly. And I sincerely appreciate you all walking this journey with me! Your comments, Facebook posts, and private messages bring me life! You make me feel normal and have contributed to making my life more awesome this year. Thank you!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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