Right now, I am in the thick of Bare Minimum Mode.
And I am relieved and rejuvenated to know there’s a name to it! YES! A Cathsorority friend of mine posted this article on Facebook last week (I can’t promise I don’t rake through Conversiondiary some days, but this was a coincidental find). I read it, and with a sigh of relief, realized I’m not (that) lazy. Ever since I became pregnant with our first child, I’ve been in the dumps, feeling like I’m “being lazy” because the house is a shambles, while trying a variety of things to help myself out of it (vitamins, drinking more water, half-heartedly eating less gluten, reading inspirational motivational stuffs, making checklists, setting alarms, LOTS OF COFFEE…), while every now and then, dazedly blurting out “WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?!”.
The above article helped me to realize that while I definitely have tired, lazy, selfish tendencies, each mother and her family has a different temperament, and that this phase of my life is, again …just a phase. (cue Incubus song). …but not only is this a simply a phase, it is an extremely difficult one! I am trying to fit into the shoes of a veteran mother and wife. Something I certainly am not, yet.
I basically expected to give birth to our first son and BAM, also be instilled with the keys and secrets to being an awesome, efficient, multitasking robot of a mother and wife. Oh, how naïve.
Something about becoming a mother that I didn’t realize I was being hurled into is the depth of self sacrificing to which I would need to surrender.
Right, right, right, having the ol’ unplanned pregnancy and baby thing is the obvious sacrifice. I’ve done that one.
But that sacrifice is, quite honestly, an easy sacrifice (I say that lightly- I don’t mean to belittle the sacrifice of giving life.), once a mother gets down to the nitty gritty of actually BEING the mother: the tiny, pinpricking sacrifices mothers make daily. Constant pinpricking needles which are the tiniest of sacrifices, build up, and can make mothers feel suffocated. A mother can find herself saying “can I not even have one moment -ONE MINUTE- to myself …to BREATHE!?”
Part of my thinking, as a new mom, in my earliest of days was similar to this:
“Okay, so I’ve gotten the baby washed/fed/sleeping,” or, “I’ve gotten the kitchen cleaned/laundry done/bills paid, SO…”
”… now I deserve some time for myself.”
But nearly every time, my “Me Time” gets interrupted. By the mailman, by a phone call, by a waking child, by whatever under the sun could go wrong, my me time was always interrupted or short-lived. I’m not exaggerating. Any mom knows this. Simply peeing without someone laying at my feet, rolling Hot Wheels around the
*extremely sanitized* toilet is considered “me time” nowadays.
It really translates like this: my time = my will. <that’s how I’ve been looking at my free time. Anything I really want to do, is part of MY TIME. IT’S MINE FOR GOODNESS SAKES! Let me at least have that!
So, after nearly 4 years of continually, frustratingly fighting for my deserved “me time”, I’ve some to a conclusion:
I don’t want my time, Lord. You take it. My time is yours.
“Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6:10)
If there’s something I really want to do, I now pray a quick prayer, “Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, help my baby to nap/behave/be occupied long enough so I can either get it done, or get some part of it done.”
One of my fave Catholic writers discusses the battle we wage when we battle for MY TIME. Peter Kreeft hits the nail on the head (as usual) by calling it what it is, pride. ”UGH, really? This is what it is? Pride?” said I, upon reading his excerpt:
“Pride does not mean an exaggerated opinion of your own worth; that is vanity. Pride means playing God, demanding to be God. ‘Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,’ says Satan, justifying his rebellion, in Milton’s Paradise Lost. That is the formula for pride. Pride is the total ‘my will be done.’ Humility is “thy will be done.” Humility is focused on God, not self. Humility is not an exaggeratedly low opinion of yourself. Humility is self-forgetfulness. A humble man never tells you how bad he is. He’s too busy thinking about you to talk about himself.”
This is not a new thing to me. It swings me back around to my current pilgrimage toward becoming less, so I can hardly be shocked when I blundered onto these thoughts. It’s just like… ugh! I gotta surrender my time too?!
Shifting my paradigm, y’all. Little by little, facet by facet. It is helping to bring my soul to a deeper peace. Instead of frustration about not being able to write my 7 Quick Takes last week, I’m assuming I wasn’t supposed to. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve been inspired to write this entry! Perhaps it’s to help a friend of whom I’m unaware, struggling like I am. Perhaps its just a little reprieve for myself. Whatever it is, I thank God for allowing it right now. I’m not saying that I’ve now mastered a complete surrender of my will to God’s will. Goodness gracious, I’m only human! This is going to be a continual LIFE LONG BATTLE. But now I know. Now, I can move forward to becoming the best version of myself.
And this isn’t to say that I’ll never get my ME TIME. But by not expecting it at every job Well Done, I am surprised to be given it. I regard it, then, as a grace from God, not an entitlement.
SO. Bare Minimum. What is that for me?
I’m breaking this up into 3 parts, or else I’ll have a mile long blog entry, and I know I’ve probably lost 3 quarters of my readers by now anyway soooo…
Part 1: What I DO
Part 2: What I Cook (and Pinterest ideas that have made my life easier)
Part 3: How My Children and I Function, Together
For me, Bare Minimum Mode is an indefinite period of time where I don’t go to any extra efforts to be anywhere except home, doing what needs to be done in order to survive.
This is pretty cleansing for me because a lot of time, we as mommies tend to feel like we HAVE to be… anything that “every other mom” seems to be doing. Truth is, we don’t. And truth is, “every other mom” isn’t doing it all either. I’ve come to believe that the very happiest of families know what they need, and don’t go chasing around what they think they need, to keep up with Sally Supermom’s family. These bare minimum moms actually become a supermom of their own, in my eyes anyway.
Here’s a rundown of my Bare Minimum household stuff as of right now. It fluctuates and changes according to where we are financially, seasonally, and how I am mentally.
The Bare Minimums for me are:
- The only time the whole family goes “out” is on the weekends: For groceries, to Mass, and to visit my parents or my husband’s parents.
- To the doctor if there’s an illness. My second son now has an ear infection, and our youngest is recovering from a double ear infection (I thought breastfed babies hardly got ear infections!?).
- Many times, we have our family come to visit us. I become easily vexed with the constant watching, chasing and corralling I have to do with my running boys. I vex to the point of exhaustion. So that when we get home, I need a nap or I’m irritated with my energetic boys until they’re in bed for the night. I guess I’m pretty introverted. If everyone comes to our house, I can actually enjoy the company.
- We are not enrolled in any extracurriculars. Any.
- I hardly make note of how much TV is being watched (DisneyJR). I do turn it off, but I’m the opposite of the strictness I used to be.
- I do laundry once a week. Note: not ALL of the laundry. Probably about half. And half of that half sits in a basket, not put away (but, at least folded, if lucky) for us to rake through as needed.
- The sink is always full of dishes. I try to get a viewing of a clean, empty sink twice a week.
- I vacuum 2-3 times a week (our carpet shows dirt like none I’ve ever known. Which is a good thing, I believe, or else I’d never vacuum.)
- I shower once a week. Twice if I seize the opportunity. A good round brush blowout, and my hair will last a whole week. Luckily, I don’t have excessively oily hair, and a spray of Dry Shampoo will sustain it if I’ve got to get to the doctor with someone mid-week.
- I absolutely delight in freshly manicured nails and a vivid colored nail lacquer. But right now, keeping them filed to a length which doesn’t trigger my gag reflex is proving challenging. (long nails make me wretch.)
BAREST OF MINIMUMS:
- Feed people.
- Wash people.
- Trim 60 fingernails once a week (+20 more of my own, if I’m lucky)
- Wipe rear ends.
- HOLD THE BABY.
- NURSE THE BABY.
- Take lots and lots of photographs.
- I blog when I can.
If absolutely nothing else:
- Bellies are filled.
- The Rosary gets prayed.
Right now, holding and nursing the baby takes up a ton of time and space. Baby 3 is 4 months old so he’s getting heavy, and too large to cradle with one arm. Wearing him in a sling or a wrap helps me do a ton, but eventually my back and neck need a break.
As this is the third round of baby-dom for me, I am conscious that this constant baby rocking, walking, nursing, bouncing, holding is a very short, albeit very intense, and extremely necessary phase for myself and especially the baby. I am familiar with the benefits of being in constant contact with my newborn and I’ll alligator-snap anyone who tells me it’s coddling the baby and a “letting him control me” thing. Wrong-o!
Okay, I’m spent. Part II to follow very soon.
Write to me, and tell me what your bare minimums are! I’m always looking for moms to copy from!