I had a rather confronting conversation the last time I was back in Singapore, and it had gone something like this:
Friend: So… what are you working as now?
Me: I’m a stay-at-home mum
Friend: Yeah, but besides that?
Me: Um… that’s it. That’s my job. I stay at home and take care of Arddun.
Friend: You mean that’s it? Like, don’t you have a job apart from taking care of her?
Me: That’s enough for now, believe me.
And then I had launched into a mini-spiel about how being a SAHM is a full-time job, blah blah blah. All the while wondering if I had missed something huge. Like, am I maximising my time? Am I inadvertently being lazy? Are most of the other women home alone with toddlers also juggling a lucrative sideline in jewellery-making while studying for a grad dip in business economics? All while keeping the house immaculate, the waistline suitably skinny, and the child untouched by The Wiggles?
Am I not doing enough? Did I miss the secret memo on my obligations as a super woman?
So you know what I’ve gone and done since that conversation?
- renewed my gym membership
- redeveloped my church’s website
- taken up a freelance job
- started baking again.
And what I’ve succeeded in doing instead is
- see less of my husband
- lose sleep from working late hours
- fall sick repeatedly.
I’m not assigning blame to that friend or that conversation. I’m assigning blame wholly to my impatience, my pride, and my inability to bite off less than I can chew. Ever since I started secondary school, I’ve been notorious for triple booking myself. Crazy-eager to please others, crazy-eager to appease the inner voices, crazy-eager to conquer the world.
The first 16 months of Arddun’s life have been so blessedly peaceful because for the first time in a very, very long time, I found myself focusing on Just One Thing. My family. All the noise, all the clatter around the edges faded away. I had found The Happy – or at least what The Happy looks like to me now.
But in the last two months since I’ve worked my mind around going back to work, I’ve opened the floodgates and the busyness… the noise… has started to rush back in.
There is a sense of achievement in amongst it, sure. I’m really enjoying my freelance job, actually. And I’m glad I’m baking again because I enjoy baking for others – even if I’m not very good at it. And the church website has been one of those goals I’d been wanting to kick even before I had Arddun, so it’s great that it’s finally done. And the gym membership… well… at least it’s renewed. One step at a time.
But I’m also bone tired.
When thinking up of a title for this blog post, I thought about being a Time Warrior, and then I googled the term – only to find that someone had already written a book about being one. I’ve never read it, but the book summary seems to imply that one of the keys to productive time management is the letting go of people-pleasing and approval-seeking. And I really tussle with that description.
On the one hand, it really resonates with me. I think we are all inherently approval-seeking and people-pleasing. It’s how we like to get along in the world. And a lot of my people-pleasing stems from insecurity. I don’t like people not to like me, or think critically of my actions. Especially of how I manage my time.
But on the other hand, a lot of my people-pleasing stems from the desire to think of others before myself. I get really bugged that our family isn’t more hospitable, or that we’re not doing more for the work of the church. I also think we are called to be peacemakers – to be all things to all men which does seem to imply a sacrifice of one’s time and oneself for others. So the very idea of becoming a Time Warrior by “slashing out all the people-pleasing” sounds, to me, inherently selfish.
I guess what I’m trying to decide for myself while “thinking aloud” (i.e. blogging) is my motivation for getting busy these past 2 months. Am I doing it because I don’t want to appear lazy? Am I doing it because it’s for the edification of my family and friends? Am I doing it because I really want to?
Because there’s so very many things I want to do and be. I want to be a kick-ass wife. I want to be a kick-ass mum. I want to be a kick-ass asset to the church. I want to be a kick-ass writer, with a kick-ass career in writing and editing. Preferably earning kick-ass money to pay for kick-ass things for loved ones. Like immigration visas. And private tuition in kick-ass Christian colleges. I want to be a kick-ass blogger. With a kick-ass ass, honed by many diligent hours in yoga and pilates. YEAAAAARRRRHHH!
And of course there’s that wise old saying that
I can do it all… it just doesn’t have to be all at once.
I should probably get some sleep.