I don’t wear busy like a badge of honor. I’m more likely to wear busy like a wound.
These words rattled around my head in the midst of packing for Type-A-Parent Conference in Atlanta almost two weeks ago, planning meals and schedules to keep things running at home while I was to be gone, running errands, working on planning the big fall festival at school. In a few brief moments between tasks I pulled up a blank TextPad document and typed out less than 20 words that awfully heavy. It was one of those moments where clearly there was something begging to be let out. To be shared. Clearly, it was also a moment where taking the time to pour out the feelings nagging me simply wasn’t an option. So I hit the pressure release valve and type those two sentences, thinking one of two things would happen. I would either come back to this mostly blank TextPad document after getting home once the conference was finished and let the rest of the feelings hit the page fingers flying across the keyboard or simply releasing those two sentences and relieving the pressure building behind the words before the trip would make the need to write the rest dissipate and I’d just hit delete and keep chugging along with life. Then something unexpected happened. Sitting in the closing keynote at Type-A-Parent Conference I heard these exact words from Thom Singer:
‘I’m busy’ has become a faux badge of honor in our society.
As I heard them and jaw fell slightly and I instinctively reached for one of the pens sitting next to me. This feeling I had carried around like a stone resting on my chest was validated. This wasn’t some weird thing that only I was feeling. It wasn’t just me.No matter how much it seems like busy is the best thing- how much we all use busyness as a sign of importance- I was not so far off base in feeling like maybe busy was not a badge of honor.
So often when you happen upon a friend or acquaintance and ask how they are or what they’ve been up to since you saw them last you’ll get some variation of “I’ve been so busy” or “life has been crazy lately, really busy!” The expectation is you’ll feel some sort of awe or equate busy with wonderful. Somehow in this country we’ve spun “overly packed schedule” into “the ideal way of life.” We’ve decided that someone living a busy life is living a better life. Because more is better, right? No. No no no. Busy is not better. More is not always better. I prefer quality over quantity. Shouldn’t the quality of our endeavors be the marker of greatness instead of the quantity of our things to do?
It’s been over a week and a half since I first sat down and wrote those heavy, real sentences. In that stretch of time the weight of the words hasn’t changed. In those days I’ve still felt the need to share these words with you and yet, I’ve been too busy. I’ve had too much going on to sit down and let my heart speak. There has been no time for more than a sentence added here and there. Honestly, all of that busyness has not meant better. My family has felt the effects of my busyness. Dinners have been rushed, or late or severely less than ideal. The house has been a chaotic jumble of piles, and papers, and half finished to dos. Luke has had to take on more to help account for the things I have been unable to do even though he has had a crazy couple of weeks himself. Bedtimes have slipped for the girls, and Luke, and me. Delaney has missed several naps. I even forgot to send in an important piece to a classroom event as promised and didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until more than a week later.
Busy is not better. Busy is harder.
Busy is not awesome. Busy is actually kind of awful.
Thom Singer’s keynote at Type-A-Parent Conference was exactly the reminder I needed to follow my gut and get back to allowing time for my frazzled family to breath, making room for actual person-to-person connections and not just flyby hellos, and looking at my goals to remember what the important things are. I fully understand sometimes life is busy whether we like it or not. Busyness can ebb and flow. It’s a fact of life. Lately though, I’ve been like the walking wounded – or more like the sprinting wounded – as I run from one thing to the next too busy to stop and breath.
I can handle busy as a sprint, not as a marathon.
I know I can set the tone for my life. My expectations are set by me. Over the past few months I’ve let outside influences set my expectations and schedule and therefore indirectly setting the expectations and schedule for my whole family.
I have to be honest, busy feels bad to me. I know I need time to be still. I need time to care for myself and my family. We – all four of us – need down time, a balanced schedule, healthy homemade meals, and time to keep our home from falling apart. Although we’d let this little family standard slip over the last few months we’re getting back to having at least one day a week with nothing planned. We’re getting back to calm. I getting back to saying no sometimes. We’re getting back taking something off when we’ve put too much on our plate.
Hopefully these changes will start to untie the knot in my chest and dissipate the chaos it feels like we’ve been living in. Hopefully I can carry around the badge of calm and happy instead of the busy wounded feeling I’ve been carrying.