It is 8 AM. I walk into my quiet house, and I stand in the kitchen. Breakfast dishes are piled next to the sink, waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher. The stools around the kitchen island are pushed out, a reminder of the people sitting on them an hour ago. I can hear the hum of the refrigerator; I can hear my own footsteps.
When is my house ever this still? With no one around, I wonder what I should do. When, in the last 14 years of motherhood, have I ever wondered what to do? I feel a bit lost, a bit paralyzed.
This was my experience almost every day this school year. For the first time in 14 years, all six of my children were in school—all day, every day. I thought that I was going to accomplish so much this year. I had visions of organizing every nook and cranny of my home. I had hopes of tackling those “maybe someday” projects that I didn’t have time for with young children underfoot. I had dreams of setting up an Adoration hour, blocking out writing time, and cooking nourishing meals so I could finally start healing from my autoimmune disease.
Instead, I felt stuck and fearful of the unknown. I felt overwhelmed by how many “maybe someday” projects had piled up. I felt confused about how to spend my days, now that I had more freedom to create my own schedule.
As a mom with kids at home, my routine revolved around meals, snacks, spills, and naps. I fit in the chores. I worked around the mess. I accomplished the essentials and let go of the rest. In between, I read books, sang songs, and played games. It wasn’t easy, but it was simple.
For all those years, I secretly wished for more “me” time. I counted down the years until my kids would be in school and I could have more time to my introverted self. I thought of how organized my house would be, how clean! What I didn’t realize was how much I was used to having those little people around me every day—their smiles, their tears, their spontaneous hugs.
As I faced my dream-come-true, I couldn’t motivate myself to clean or organize. I actually started to resent those tasks that I once longed to do. Anxiety grew, and I started panicking. I thought, “Is this it? My husband and my children have somewhere to go, but I am stuck here alone. Will the rest of my days be spent dusting, mopping, and decluttering?”
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