Yesterday I found myself leaning on the counter with my head in my hands taking concentrated breaths, completely overwhelmed by just one more thing.
It was rough day.
Some days are just like that. It wasn’t particularly different than any other day. It was just another day of requests for food five minutes after meals, loud intense emotions from every corner (8, 6 and 4 feels tough in the emotions department, but I think it’s just human problems), more drama than I needed, too much time scrolling, and not quite enough time doing meaningful things or simply just calm. It was a “normal” day of #momlife, but I was finding myself unable to cope. Sometimes a string of normal days add up to enough stress to let you know something needs to change.
Thankfully these days I know where to start and what is wrong, more or less.
It starts with what I can’t do. I can’t control everything about my family life. I can’t just opt out or take a vacation from the stress. These are my people, this is my life. I must notice what’s happening and respond to the dailiness of life with my people. Laundry, errands, dishes, internet use, food prep, kids – it’s all a part of my day. I can try to solve all the stress – arrange my days more intentionally, spread a little more time/energy over the struggle-bus moments, manage all the feelings. I can be as intentional as I want with my people, but I’m going to end up in the same place feeling burnt out (just intentionally so instead of accidentally so), overwhelmed, and overlooked.
I can’t address this starting with the problems. I have to build a better base.
It starts with me. It starts with you. As the one concerned about it all, you get to change you and your approach to your situation. The answer is not to pamper yourself briefly, but to set up your life for more wholeness by taking care of yourself in longterm way. It means inviting shalom into the cracks of the everyday experiences and making space in my schedule to do those things bring me to life. The rest may or may not calm down in time, but coming from a space of well-being within yourself will give you somewhere to go when life gets intense.
A few years ago I called this drawing in and circling up, WholeMama. During this writing project a few other writer mamas and I explored and thought through our keyboards about what it meant to be a mom AND to be our whole created selves in all our weirdness. WE don’t have to splinter off our abilities or show up to our lives in the exact same format as the mom-next door or the next mini-van in the drop-off line. We are ourselves and that is exactly as it should be.
Over the last few years, after retiring the wholemama linkup (life, you know) and taking quiet period from this type of writing, the idea has stuck with me. It needed to morph a little to fit and feel right in my today life with all my people included so Whole Together Family came into being. Those same core ideas that carried me through the little tiny years so well could help me grow with my family and help my family grow into themselves together. These days it’s a big part of how I frame my choices.
I want to make space for all of us to be whole together. Not just me. Not just us. Not just them. But what does it mean to be a whole person? It’s hard to define since everyone is so different (which is part of the point, there is no one size fits all solution to motherhood and family life). To me there are a few specifics that are the most important and then the others are peripherally important in different ways to different people.
- health – emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical
- purpose – goals, dreams, passion, actions, faith, hobbies, current life situation.
- createdness – unique personality, individual interests, likes/needs/values, calling
- connection – family, marriage, friends, attachment, personality, christians
One word that sums it up a little better than any twenty in English is the Hebrew word: Shalom.
Wholeness is shalom. Shalom as wholeness.
Osheta Moore says: “Shalom is basically seeking God’s peace expressed in our lives in three ways: our relationship to Him, to the earth, and each other. God’s idea of peace is wholeness. Wholly relating to Him as our true selves, wholly relating to the earth as caregivers, and wholly relating to each other as precious and worthy of love.”– Osheta Moore (@osheta on twitter June 15th, 2015)
For me, cultivating wholeness means inviting health, purpose, connection, and createdness into your family and community. But it doesn’t actually fit into one sentence like that. It’s not neat. It’s not clearcut. It’s not one size fits all. It’s just a beginning to living with a different mindset.
Shalom and wholeness is all of it, but also only the beginning.
I hope you’ll come along for the ride as I continue to think about this more systematically. Next Thursday I’ll be writing about how listening to the undercurrents in your family can help you create space for more wholeness in your family.
How could you invite a little more wholeness into your today life? Where do you need the most support right now personally? Do you need to make more space for you health, understanding your purpose, embracing your createdness, or strengthening your bonds with you people?