Seeking contentment… revisited

I wrote the post below 6 months ago. I posted only the last bit. Six months later… I am brave enough (I think) to post the rest of the musings… though I have come no further in reaching decisions. Six months later… I am even more aware how quickly this time I have at home is fleeting… well, depending on that decision about homeschooling. And that begs the question of whether my contemplation of homeschooling is more about what is best for my little boy… or me… or maybe both of us. I don’t know. I do know that I am still struggling with being content. I also know that over the past 6 months I have grown to feel a little less alone… and that life has somehow been provided for for 6 more months. How in the world do I grow so I am content with just enough and not always wanting just a little bit more?

Anyway… thoughts from last May:

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I don’t do so well with not worrying about the future.  So, with a little over a year until my 4-year-old goes to kindergarten and no guarantee there will be younger siblings, I’ve been thinking about (but thankfully, not worrying about) what my options for working at that time are.   I’ve felt for several years like I’m caught between several bad options on the job front (to be honest, I feel many moms are caught between several bad options on the job front, unless you have a highly flexible, no overtime job)… and if there’s one thing I remember from Psychology 101 it is that the hardest decisions are choices between unappealing options. As frequent visitors to my blog know, I don’t like dread making decisions anyway.

At the moment, I’m running a spa business from home (and in the past couple of months working on my terms has translated to not much working, gotta get motivated) and doing an ever-dwindling amount of work for a local non-profit.   As much as I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay at home right now (I never saw it being an option and yet it is somehow working out) I often find it tough to juggle being the kind of mom I want to be and meeting the demands that working from home, even very part-time, with a preschooler places on me.  I wish there was some way to pacify this longing to be like some other SAHMs I know who may not all have the luxuries of a dual-income but seem to only have the responsibility of childcare (admittedly a huge responsibility in itself) and still seem to find time/money for the Starbucks, massages and manicures, and expensive “toys” that I could never manage on two incomes. Well, okay, I did have a slight Starbucks addiction when we had two incomes.  (Wouldn’t you if you were an exhausted new mom and there was a Starbucks caddy-corner to your office that you had to drive by multiple times a day?)

I also realize that while some of this longing is financially based, much of it is a contentment issue.  (I wouldn’t spend money on manicures and massages even if I had it… I’m too much of all about saving money!)  It’s really more about having the freedom to make the choices.  It seems that for much of my adult life the financial security that I have wanted has been just out of my grasp, despite Dave Ramsey‘s belief that working hard gets you raises and financial independence and endless wealth (Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate many of his philosophies, including the reminder to use wealth to help others and serve God… it just sometimes seems that all being financially responsible gets me is keeping my head above water and surviving job losses by depleting emergency funds…).  I’m really not trying to complain… even though I realize I’m complaining… because I am all too aware that so many are in worse shape than I am.   I truly am grateful for getting to spend the past year or so enjoying my little boy instead of frantically doing the get up/get dressed/drop off child/work/pick up child/come home/make supper/bedtime routine/work more from home/collapse in bed/get up the next day routine where I felt parenting was limited to a few snatched moments during meal prep, bathtime and bedtime stories.

Here’s what I keep trying to remember:

Need a scripture?  Go look at Philippians 4 again. 🙂

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More thoughts from November…

Today, I am thankful for seeing some movement… if ever so slight… towards being more content with my circumstances.  Some of that is letting go a tiny bit more of the ever-present concern about what others think of my decisions.  Some of that is thinking that perhaps there are some unconsidered options out there… like working part-time a few evenings a week.  Some of that is realizing that there *are* part-time jobs out there in my line of work… the key is just finding them.  Somehow.  Some of it is realizing the sacrifices that others with more money often have to make… and knowing that I will take less money and more family time over more money and never being able to spend time together as a family any day.  I am blessed that my husband has a very family-friendly job with no late nights or weekend work (and, admittedly, a bit jealous!)  I am blessed that money always seems to be there when we need it and we have *never* had to worry where our mortgage payment or next meal was coming from.  I am very thankful for that.  That is where I need to stay.  It is just easier said than done some days… when I get much more caught up in my wants than my needs.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. The routine you described (get up/get dressed/eat-quickly!-/drop child off….) is just that, a routine. And no matter what routine God has in mind for your family, someone will criticize it. So it’s good that you’re letting go of others’ opinions. I dealt with criticism when I was a SAHM in the 80′ and 90’s. But now that our 3 kids are in their late 20’s and married, we see the fruit of our decision and it’s *mostly* good. Talking with God about your decision will keep you in tune with His will, obeying it will bring contentment. Be in the moment with your husband and son. Take it one day at a time. blessings on your day!

    Reply

  2. I’m glad you stopped by my blog to read about how we approach homeschooling. Honestly, our approach varies even from my plans. Today, we were supposed to be catching up on some math, poetry and art, but we were invited to a tour of a local olive oil mill. There went my plans, but we had a great day.

    I think you’ve hit the nail RIGHT on the head when you state that CONTENTMENT is the issue! I’ve been talking to friends about just this issue lately. Actually, I’ve been ASKING friends in all sorts of situations (those working, those not, SAHMs and retired moms) if they’re content. Few women have simply answered yes, and most quickly answered no. Even the people I thought appeared completely happy, content, at ease with their lives! Realizing this really helped me RELAX and be more content with my life (though, I confess, I’m still antsy).

    I have a lot for which to be grateful, and some days, those days when I’m most frustrated, most antsy, least content, I have to step back to look for it.

    Do your own experiment – ask various friends, particularly those whose lives you most admire. (You don’t have to tell them your opinion of their lifestyles – in fact it’s probably better not to muddy the water with such comments. Just ask…and see what happens.) When you find people who can confirm that they’re 100% happy with their lives, ask them to elaborate. Maybe they’re seeing things you and I are not.

    Reply

    • Thank you so much for your comments! Your experiment sounds like a good one… though I must say I don’t know if I would get honest replies to the question. I do love the idea, and I’ll figure out some way to do it. Thanks! I am with you on having to step back and be grateful on those frustrating days… and have really been working on cultivate that gratitude. I am very much aware how much I have that others do not (that’s what a background of working in social work will get you).

      Reply

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