62: A Nugget of Wisdom

62: A Nugget of Wisdom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide

A Nugget of Wisdom

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.

~Hans Hofmann

I often find myself watching arguments between working moms and stay-at-home moms concerning who is busier. Whenever anyone asks me, I answer simply, “Anyone who takes care of children is busy… all the time.”

It really doesn’t matter how many things you have going on in your life; you only need one thing to make you instantly busy — children. From the moment you are awake to the moment you sleep, there is something to be done, someone to help, someone to worry about or someone to watch over. And even in your sleep you listen for them, so there really isn’t a moment when you are not occupied with something.

I spent several years trying to figure out how to manage a marriage, three kids, a full-time job, a part-time job and all the other things that had to be done in a day. I was exhausted from late-night band practice, middle-of-the-night wet bed changes and project assignments from work. I couldn’t remember the last time my husband and I had had a real conversation, and I knew it had been even longer since I had taken a moment to do something for myself.

I was tired, cranky and unhappy, and I knew I was not being a good wife or mother. Something had to change, but I was so over-whelmed that I didn’t know where to start. Then my youngest child gave me a glimpse into how to figure out what really matters.

We were getting ready to read a bedtime story after a long day, and he asked me if I was going to be home the next day. I sighed, wearily expecting him to request a trip to the museum or an amusement park. “Yes, Mommy will be home. It is Saturday, and I don’t have to go to work.”

He got a big smile on his face and asked, “You make me ’hicken nuggets?”

I smiled and said, “Sure, Bub, I can make you chicken nuggets. What else do you want me to do tomorrow?”

“Make me ’hicken nuggets,” he said again, and that was it. The next day you would have thought I’d given him the world when those nuggets hit the plate, with ketchup on the side.

The following weekend was the same. He requested his favorite lunch of me, and that was all. I came to understand that to my son the most important thing was that I made his favorite lunch for him. He didn’t care about all the elaborate crafts we did or the trips we took or any of the million other things I wore myself out doing for my family. He was simply glad I made him chicken nuggets.

That gave me a lot to think about. Of course, there were things like laundry and food shopping that had to be done, but what about all the other things that took up my time and didn’t involve the necessities of life? Who was I doing those things for? And did the people I was doing them for really care if I did them or not?

I looked at all the people I “worked” for in some way, figured out which things I did for them that made the biggest impression, and cut down sharply on the things that nobody seemed to care about, including me. If I wasn’t sure how someone would react to me cutting out an activity, I asked. The answers were very surprising, and everyone supported my desire to cut out the busyness in my life in favor of being happier and healthier.

After several weeks, I actually found myself with a few minutes to myself nearly every day. I took up some hobbies I had given up for lack of time. I spent time talking to my husband over coffee, and I went out to lunch with my friends. I even took a few days away for a mini-vacation to recharge my batteries.

I’d never have figured it out without my son’s help. Leave it to a three-year-old to help this forty-something mom turn her life around. I am so glad he did.

~Shawn Marie Mann

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