I did nothing.
And it was glorious.
Since Monday was Memorial Day and the whole Takao clan had a three-day weekend, I initially had grand plans of trekking to Waikiki Saturday night to explore the latest Japanese food court, traversing the crowd at Ala Moana Beach to view the floating lantern presentation, or braving the shopping crowds to see what kind of deals I could get for the kids.
I wanted to do something. SOMETHING!!! I didn’t want my children to think to themselves, “Wow, this is boring at home. Wow, everyone else is going out. Wow, mommy isn’t fun at all.”
Crazy thoughts, I know. After much hemming and hawing, I then came to this realization: rather than schlep an overly talkative six year old and almost-2 year old in their car seats around town, my hubby, kids, and I would instead do the following.
- Wake up WHENEVER we wanted, which was late for our family but still early enough so that the sun was only starting to rise over the mountains
- Leisurely lay around the living room sipping coffee (for the hubby and I, not the kids, ha ha) watching, “Paw Patrol” or some other cartoon.
- Read a book or two with Shogun while Misha drew extravagant pictures of her friends.
- Got ready to go to the gym.
- Went to the gym where Misha did BJJ, I got to work on some powerlifting movements, Kyle free rolled or played around with the weights, and Shogun sat in on some of the kiddie conditioning classes.
- Food. Food. Food.
- Nap. Nap. Nap.
- Woke up from said nap, played cars with Shogun or drew with Misha.
- Went out for dinner.
- Got back home, laid on the living room carpet with the kids and watched a movie until it was time to go to sleep.
Not a whole lot of excitement. Granted, we did go out of the house a bit, which is no easy task when one child still needs help in and out of the car and the other child chatters incessantly, always wanting to play a game or look at daddy’s phone. Despite our frequent excursions, however, there were not a whole lot of (what many folks would label) “educationally stimulating” activities for the kids. I didn’t hand make play-doh for the little ones using glue, food coloring, and contact solution, nor did we make pancakes into the shape of Mickey Mouse and decorate the breakfast with freshly cut strawberries and whipped cream (something my grandmother did with me). All our family did was take a break. It was a break from the daily grind. It was a time to just be free to do “whatever” and not worry about the productivity of the day. It was glorious.
We could let be be.
Let be be.
That above line, “Let be be,” is taken from “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”, a lovely Modernist poem by Wallace Stevens. The basic premise of the writing is to not care what others perceive you as, but instead live life to the fullest and enjoy all the joy and happiness it has to offer. Upon first reading this piece of literature, I would marvel at how a person COULD merely BE and find fulfillment in that manner. What did it mean to just sit and not be DOING something? How could an individual function knowing that she was just taking up space and not contributing to society?
It was this kind of thinking that infiltrated my mind at a young age: I wasn’t valuable, profitable, or worthwhile if I wasn’t producing something grand. Being able to sit and rest was akin to slothfulness, and who wants to be known as a person who is lazy?! Surely, not I! And so my obsession with continually doing something, whether it be wiping down the counters with Colorx wipes, prepping food for the next day’s lunches, folding laundry, or engaging in some kind of activity similar to those listed above, took over my existence and eventually made me crazy. It literally drove my so batty that I my heart would jump when I saw Misha drop a cookie crumb on the carpet or if Kyle didn’t wipe up the splotch of toothpaste in the sing. I was on a stain with cleaner in hand, and pretty soon even my toddler would try “being like mommy” and dusting the sofa with a wet wipe.
My home needed to be spotless. A clean home meant a happy home. A happy home meant I was thriving as a mother and wife. Being an excellent spouse and parent meant I was doing SOMETHING right, when in reality I felt extremely insecure in my capabilities in both realms. I constantly questioned my parenting and wife skills–why couldn’t I be a “DIY” type of mom who made her children organic PB and J’s cut into shapes of animals? Why couldn’t I prepare a deliciously homemade vegan dinner–nut cheeses, bean burgers, and hummus from freshly ground beans–for my husband?
And so I thought keeping myself busy, active, and always DOING meant that I was winning in life. At least if I couldn’t be the model mother and wife, if I at least LOOKED like I was, that was enough, right? Right?!
No, it wasn’t. All I ended up doing was obsessing over every flaw I found–I went through the drive-thru to pick up Wendy’s fries for my daughter, there were cobwebs accumulating in the corners of my living room–and soon made myself sick with condemnation. But then I was reminded of Romans 8:1: “For there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk the Earth. Why then was I going mentally, emotionally, and physically insane trying to live up to an expectation (i.e. perfect mother, perfect wife) that I could never fully achieve? Why try to push away the feelings of guilt and inadequacy by submerging myself in activities that would dilute those feelings (i.e. compulsive exercising and calorie restriction)? Why equate my worth with what I produced and did, versus looking at my value as a blessed child of the Lord?
In the end, I had to make peace with the fact that just being ME was enough–and since I am a flawed person who is only redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, no amount of DOING will make be a “better” person. I just needed to let be be.
And so that was what our family did this weekend. We just “be” (or for you grammatical Nazis out there, we just “were”). And you know what? I liked it. I liked relaxing with my family. I liked not feeling like I had to vacuum all the hair off the floor or scrub the tub until it was shinning. I liked that the memories Shogun and Misha will have are the times we read books or sang silly songs together, and that their perceptions of me will not be of a mom that was a fanatical duster and dish washer who couldn’t sit still.
Let be be.
Let be be.