I come to this space feeling the quiet urging to write. Maybe it’s just the writer in me.
It’s hard to share a feeling through words. And whitespace…it’s kind of a feeling.
When I decided to start on this journey to find whitespace, I didn’t have concrete plans for how to accomplish it. I just knew I needed a break.
I was living frantically and didn’t even realize it. Always hopping from one thing on my schedule to the next, from one blog post to the next…it was a lot of mental busy.
I was so frustrated that I just couldn’t keep up with life between doing all I do for the household, mothering, caring for my husband, being a blogger and all that entails, and being a friend. There simply wasn’t enough of me and my personal resources to go around. Someone was always losing. And I hated that.
I would be lying if I said it’s magically all better now, because it’s not.
But I’m realizing that that’s just how life is, and I’m learning to be okay with it.
Recently a friend of mine who does not yet have children posted a series of serious questions on Facebook:
Is it possible for kids to play by themselves without needing their mother? Is it possible to keep a house tidy, look decent yourself, and cook a nice meal, while at the same time keeping your sanity and your kids from killing each other? Is it possible to have a pleasant, stress-free home without sacrificing your health, good meals, a clean home, etc? Do always have to give up something (like a clean home) to gain something (like a meal on the table)?
I’ve asked myself this question over and over and over:
Do you always have to give up something to gain something?
Personally? I have found the answer to be a resounding yes.
We women have been sold a lie that says we can do it all. We can shop organic and cook from scratch and clean and DIY and craft and plan creative date nights for our husbands and make sure our kids have sensory bins and blog and read blogs and manage 15 social media accounts and write ebooks all while keeping a healthy BMI and having a bikini-ready body.
And we know doing it all is insanely impossible – but we keep trying because we are women and I think that’s sort of how we are wired. It seems like everyone else is doing it so we should give it our darndest too.
Well ladies, I’ve dropped out of the rat race and I’m waving the white flag of surrender.
THE BLOGGING RAT-RACE
Reading blogs? Ain’t nobody got time fo dat. A year ago, I probably could have made a living if I had been paid an hourly wage for the blogs I read. Because, you know, I’m a good friend and a respectful blogger and I go above and beyond the call of duty to do the right thing and if my friend has a blog I read every single post.
I gained so much from the words of my friends. But when I stopped back to see what I was losing – time, mental energy – I decided I needed to pick the better of the two options.
In this moment just logged into my Bloglovin account. Between my “inner circle” (my closest and dearest blogging friends) and my mastermind group there are 30 unread posts. And that’s hard for me to swallow. Especially as a writer because I want people to read what I write. But, again, I’m only one person.
Writing blogs? Okay, sometimes I find time for that. The world will keep on turning if I don’t write a post today, or tomorrow, or next week. I suppose that’s one thing about being a more established blogger with nearly 500 posts of established content. I still get traffic on the days I don’t post something. It might not be something to write home about, but if people are coming and reading my stuff, I’m happy with that.
Social media? I’m getting smarter about the time-suck that is social media.
Facebook: The other day it occurred to me that I’m no longer a Facebook addict. And it shocked me. Instead of agonizing over accepting friend requests or cleaning out my friends list and all of the DRAMA that causes, I’ve made myself a list of my closest friends and their posts. That’s where I head every morning to see the latest and keep in touch. The rest is just gravy. If I check it, cool. If not, that’s cool too.
Pinterest: My life just ain’t all that pinnable. I have spent HOURS making cutesie graphics for my posts in hopes that somehow they will take off “over there,” but they never do – so I quit. If I have a post I think is pinnable, I make a graphic. If not, I’m not going to waste my precious time adding text to a photo just to try to make the social media gurus happy.
Scheduling: I created a spreadsheet for myself of all of the places I want my posts to get shared. I write the name of the post in the box then cross the places off once the post is shared. I like this approach because I can stay off of social media for days or even a week, and still come back and not have to wade through things because I can’t remember what got shared when and where. It’s been freeing to set the sheet down sometimes.
HOUSE AND HOME
I let Russ take over the dishes. I made myself a monthly job list where I have a 5 minute job to do every day. (Some days, it doesn’t get done, and that’s okay.) We eat a lot of (gluten-free) macaroni and cheese and hot dogs; last week we had ChickFilA three times; and last night I gave my son a banana for dinner because left work early and checked out at 5PM.
OUR SOCIAL CALENDAR
This is another area that has really surprised me. Because it’s here that I’ve been finding myself saying YES more than NO.
I’ve realized that social interaction and physical activity is not just necessary for Ezra, but it actually helps him be calmer when we are at home. So, now that he’s out of school, we are spending a LOT of time at the parks and playdates so that he can get all of his energy out. Then, when we get home, he’s a lot more content to play in the basement by himself, sometimes for several hours – while I do cleaning or blogging or resting.
The thing about social interactions is that in person is always better. And we desperately want to go deep and make friends and not just have a surface friendship with people. So, last week, I spontaneously invited over a couple from our church for dinner and we had an absolutely fabulous time. We sat around the table and played cards while Ezra played in the basement and it was…calming.
And this…this is what I’m trying to get to in this post. (Sorry, I took the scenic route.)
Because when you just focus on eliminating, things can get pretty depressing pretty quickly.
Do you always have to give up something? Yes. But what about the gain?
What about the moment when you are lying on your son’s bed and your boys are in the rocking chair reading a book and the son says something funny and your husband and you share a look that can’t even put feeling into words and you think “they are my world…” and you realize that this…this is whitespace.
Or when you are playing Fluxx with your new friends who just happen to understand geek culture and your husband is smiling and content and you realize that this…this is whitespace.
Or when you sit on a park bench well into your son’s second hour of playing and you are chatting with your friend on Voxer about serious heart stuff and even though you haven’t read her blog in two weeks it’s okay and you realize that this…this is whitespace.
Or when you spend four solid hours of hiking as a family and then come home and let your son play downstairs while you and your husband watch TV and at the end of the evening your playroom looks like this but you are 100% okay with that because you realize that this…this is whitespace.
Or when it’s 9:21AM and you need to leave the house by 9:30AM if you are going to make it to the gym before your playdate at the park but you decide that writing this post is the important work to do today so you pour yourself another cup of coffee and slide your pajamaed legs back into the chair on the sunroom in front of your laptop and you realize that this…this is whitespace.
Do you always have to give up something to gain something?
I say yes. But the gain is always worth it.