An epiphany is a moment in time that something clicks, or just makes sense. It is a thought that brings all the pieces of a puzzle together so you can see the big picture. I remember a parenting epiphany I had about seven years ago. My children were toddlers and I was exhausted from cleaning up after them. I had taken a much-needed break and invited a few friends over for a playdate in the backyard. I was pretty down, feeling like a bad mother, and didn't know what to do.
While our children played, we chatted. It was wonderful to be able to have adult conversation for an hour. One of my friends was telling me about how she lost it on a regular basis, yelling at her kids and husband, she was unhappy. She confided she had the hardest time keeping up with the house and her two little ones while cooking and cleaning. I began to think about my ancestors who had to make clothing, churn butter, and kill and clean chickens. I started to think that maybe I was a descendent of supermom, but her superblood had been bred out of me.
Soon our conversation turned. My friend began telling me how much she had enjoyed a new television series she had been watching online. She had watched five episodes in a day! Suddenly it hit me. My great-grandmother could skin a chicken, grow a garden and sew a dress in a day because she didn't give into distraction.
Enter my epiphany. I suddenly realized I needed to let go in order to hold on. That afternoon, after my kids were down for a nap, I made a list of things I enjoyed but maybe indulged in too much. Here is part of that list.
Movies or television shows
All these things can be enriching, and good for relaxation, when moderated. Just like eating a wonderful calorie-laden dessert, when we indulge ourselves too much we get sick. I decided to let some of it go.
I began to set limits for myself and instituting self-control. I failed, many times, but kept going. Soon I found myself enjoying my almost clean home, and my husband's affection for keeping it orderly. I enjoyed less fighting with my kids to find shoes or gloves. I found myself really enjoying a good book, after everything was done, instead of being interrupted continually because I am not completing my responsibilities. I enjoyed watching my children enter our home and ask what they could do to help. I'll admit the first time this happened you could scrape me off the floor.
Then came my biggest epiphany, a thought that changed my world. I realized I am a wife, and a mother, and, as such, I chose this life. I choose to put my family first, which does not mean neglecting myself. Keeping my life orderly and my family happy, makes me happy. I find time every day to spend on something I love, but I make sure it doesn't take time away from my family or my responsibilities.
The space in our lives is measured by seconds, minutes, hours, days and years. Think of letting go as cleaning your life closet. There is only so much time or room. When you remove old habits and addictions, you remove clutter and chaos which creates space and organization. You can actually pack more into an organized life closet. You pick and choose the quality of what you want to keep, and what is ready to be shipped off to the thrift store. Keep the best book, the best movie, the priceless friend and let some of the old clutter go.
What are you holding on to? Are there things in your life you can let go? I took a short un-scientific survey of some friends and relatives and came up with this list:
Exercise: Necessary, but too much can take time away from your family.
Shopping: This can not only take up time, but put a financial strain on your family.
Baking: Yummy desserts and wonderful roasts can be fabulous, but it can become an obsession.
Friends and family: Yes, this one is hard as we love our friends. Don't let them take time away from your family, or use them as an excuse to hide from your laundry.
Blogging, Facebook, or other online activities: Blogs are so much fun. Pinterest is great. But when you find yourself disconnected from your family while knowing the instant a blogger you follow has her baby, there may be an issue.
Lessons: One lesson too many. Too much piano, yoga, soccer, ballet lessons or any lessons that happen all afternoon, every day of the week.
Work: Working at home or on the job to support your family is one thing. Choosing to stay late and do all the extras to be valued and impress the boss is another. Working so much that I fail to put my family first and forget I work to care for them.
I am a true believer that almost anything is good for you, in doses. I also know that my family is happier, and I have healthier relationships with them, because of what I chose to let go. I am also a happier and healthier mother and wife and am so grateful for that epiphany.