To-do lists. You either love 'em, or hate 'em, am I right?
And if you love them, you probably loooooovvvvvvvve them; getting fancy planners, and special pens to make the list-making task even more fun. And if you're extra crazy (takes one to know one) you sometimes write things on your list even after you've already done them, just to get the thrill of crossing them out. Yesssss...that's the stuff.
So all of you type-A listy list-ertons. I get you. I know what it's like to be motivated by accomplishments. I'm familiar with the lure of productivity- the push to do do do, check check check, all the live long day.
And I also understand how motherhood can seem to get in the way of all that. Because while being a mom can be nearly synonymous with being a multitasker (need me to change a diaper, while settling a sibling dispute, and dictating a text to Siri? No problem. I might even manage to swipe on some mascara while I'm at it.) at other times it can cause any to-do list progress to screech to a grinding halt (ever find yourself trapped under a sleeping baby? only on the days you actually needed to get something done, I'm sure).
Mothering little ones especially, can feel counter-productive. You get the big kid dressed just in time for the toddler to have stripped back down to her diaper. You manage to fold all the teeny tiny onesies just so, only to turn around to find the kids upturning the basket for use as a "doggie cage/sailboat". Have you heard the expression "cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos"? Yeah. You've lived it. (maybe literally. Sometimes the bathroom is the only place to eat a snack without having to share).
I know I don't need to explain the struggle of doing to you mamas. You totally understand what it is to have moments of multi-tasking mastery, while still looking back on your day in bewilderment, wondering if you're any further ahead than when you started (and how accomplishing so little can be so exhausting?!) And unless I'm willing to write "Feed the baby x 6, Forget to mail that RSVP again, Eat ice cream for dinner after the kids go to bed" on my to-do list, I've realized I'm probably never again going to experience the joy of checking off all of my goals each day.
And honestly? That's going to have to be ok. Because clinging to the doing in this season of motherhood can feel like fighting a losing battle. And even the "winning" loses its shine when I feel like an order-barking taskmaster. (Get your shoes on, get in the car, put on your buckles, no time to dawdle, chip chop chip!)
So, lately I've been attempting to shift my mindset from: What do I need to get done? to: Who do I want to become? (Thank you, Bill Hybels for that question). I've learned (the hard way) that no matter how efficient I am, there's always going to be more to do. Chasing achievement is going to leave me falling short and feeling tired. But focusing on the bigger picture- the who and how of it all- is an opportunity to drawn nearer to Christ. Because in the end, He isn't as concerned with what I'm doing as He is with who I am. Doing to keep up with the demands of the world is measured on a scale of success, but within the Kingdom of God, being is absolute. I'll never be able to do enough to meet my standard of perfection, or the bar someone else sets in their life. But I can be a follower of Christ. No boxes to check, or steps to completion. I'm just His because He's called me His.
I'm not going to tell you to throw out the list, because if you're at all like me, that's just not going to happen. I'm not going to get all preachy about maintaining perspective, and being thankful for every moment with little ones, because you and I both know that's a lovely, but impossible thought.
But I am going to encourage you (and myself) to hold the doing a little looser, in favor of a tighter focus on becoming. If I wake up every morning aiming to be like Jesus, it's likely that all the to-do's will still get done, maybe even more so than if I was worried about the list itself. But if I stay narrowed in on check-check-checking things, it's easy to miss big picture, and ignore the condition of my heart. And that's something I don't want to do.
Courtney is a mama to two wild girls and a sweet new(ish) baby boy. You can connect with Courtney on her blog, Bowdenisms, or on Instagram: @bowdenisms.