What Matters Most:
My Dream Life Feels Like An Epic Fail
Before I was married and had children . . . I had this picture of what my “Dream Life” would look like. I wanted to be happily married and to have lots of children. I knew that it would take some work but in the end it would be a happy life . . . a good life.
Fast forward 20 plus years to today. . . I am married and have quite a few children. Not as many as the Duggar’s 19 Kids and Counting, but more than the average American family. When you include my in-laws, there are 13 in our household. By that definition . . . I am living my dream life, right? So, why does my life feel like such an epic fail?
When I was single, I had it all worked out in my head. Yes, I expected lots of laundry, noise and some chaos . . . but NOT the kind of chaos that would make me feel like I am on a hamster wheel going round and round and getting nowhere . . . lacking JOY, fulfillment and a sense of purpose.
Day after day of running here and there, living my life by my calendar because every minute on our schedule was jammed packed and I couldn’t keep it all straight. Each day we’d wake up and “go, go, go” and “do, do, do” until the evening. Thankful to make it through yet another day, I often found myself so happy when it was time to send all the kids to bed so I could have a moment of peace before I drug myself to bed. After a few hours of sleep we’d be up and at it again.
Birthdays and holidays kept coming and going and lacked a sense of real joy and celebration. They were just another BIG thing to get through. As I paused and looked around at our life . . . wondering how we got to this exhausting and suffocating place . . . because I thought that there would be so much more to life than this fast paced chaos that was anything but fulfilling.
I started asking myself “Is this really all there is?” Wondering if I am missing something because I sure am crazy busy being a wife and Mom and am NOT feeling very fulfilled or happy . . . wondering if I’ve missed the mark . . . even though I am living out what my dream of a “Happy Life” was supposed to be.
I’m not talking about whether I love my husband and my children or doubting my faith or wishing that I was not a Mom . . . I really was feeling completely overwhelmed with the dailiness of life . . . with no real time to breathe and enjoy my family . . . my life.
After chatting with a faithful friend who helped me sort through some things I had a wake up call . . . realizing that I am the one that controls MY schedule, MY calendar and each hour of my day, I knew I needed to take a seriously hard look at what I am allowing in my life and in my family’s lives that was cluttering up our days and keeping us from really focusing and enjoying what matters most to OUR family.
The hardest part for me was setting aside my feelings of guilt and obligation . . . I tried to be ruthless and honest with myself about what I truly want in my life and what I don’t want in my life. Cutting out the excess fluff and chaos of doing things that I don’t want to do and don’t need to do . . . that keep me from doing what I really wanted or needed to do was difficult but oh so necessary in order to take back control of our schedule . . . and ultimately our life.
I’m not talking about cleaning the bathroom or some other household chore here . . . I’m talking about the friend that comes to you and says “I need you to help me out here with this and I know you are THE perfect person to help bail me out of this situation . . .” or dealing with all the birthday party and baby shower invites, school or church volunteering and on and on and on. It was time for me to take back control of my life!
Six steps that are helping me go from overwhelmed to empowered to living a life that I love:
2. Set Boundaries
This one is BIG! We all need to do this so that we are not overwhelmed every day. No more saying yes to those things that I really don't want to do. Being proactive in taking back my life by weeding out those things that I was doing out of GUILT for what others expected of me.