Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Simple Isn't Easy

In the same way that simple isn't lazy, living a simple life does not mean living an easy life.
A simplified life, to me,  is a focused life.
I do think that being focused on fewer things allows for a more peaceful and fulfilling life, but it doesn't mean that life will be easy.
I think many times we search out "the simple life" because we just want to take a break.  Motherhood is a round-the-clock job and true rest is hard to find in a house full of children.  Homeschooling can feel like an enormous undertaking.  We crave slower days, more relaxation, and less on our To-Do lists.
My best friend and I were talking about taking relaxed days.  She was saying that whenever she takes one day of leisure with the kids, staying home all day and hanging out, doing fun crafts or having a family reading day or un-structured day, etc. she feels like it takes at least 3 days of extra-hard work to make up for it with the housework.  I agree!  As I pondered this, I realized that my simplest days still contain lots of labor, but the focus is on my family and home as opposed to tons of other errands, phone calls, demands, requests, etc. 
A mother robin has a pretty simple life.  And yet she works very, very hard at keeping those eggs warm and those babies fed and safe.  In fact, it seems that she works from dawn to dark caring for those noisy little ones, without a break.
My life is pretty simple too.  My kids aren't in any extra-curriculars right now, I am not working any cleaning jobs this month, I don't have any photo shoots lined up, my house if fairly minimalistic, I don't own a cell phone or have cable, we have a small, simple garden, and we're not taking any big trips or vacations this summer.  We spend a lot of time outdoors, we stay home a lot, we make simple meals, I make time to read everyday, our CC group doesn't meet during the summer, we're only doing an hour a day of schooling in the summer, and I spend a lot of time with friends and family.
However, at the end of every day I'm extremely tired.  My life may be fairly simple, but there is nothing easy about having 4 kids!  I spend my entire day teaching them, instructing them, mediating fights, disciplining and discipling, preparing food for them, cleaning up messes, washing, sorting, folding clothing, curtailing clutter and paper hurricanes, stepping on legos and pulling rocks out of my dryer, making sure they do their schoolwork and their chores and that they do them correctly, comforting them with their numerous injuries, making sure our pet bunny is cared for, and turning red over the latest, shocking evidence of their immaturity and lack of common sense or outright destruction of property that I've discovered. 
Even on days when we have fewer chores and more leisure time, there is always work to be done.  Though I spend more time in the yard in the summer, I feel like summer requires even more work from me than in the winter because I have gardens/plants to water, more company to prepare food for, the job of enforcing the hanging of wet towels and cleaning up garbage in the yard, sunscreening the kids (if you've done it, you know it ain't no picnic!), a patio to sweep and maintain, and a pool to filter, skim, chlorinate, test, and clean.
The simple life is not an easy life. 
God has given us all work to do, and though that work can be meaningful, fruit-bearing, and enjoyable, it is going to take effort.  It is going to require sweat much of the time and maybe even some tears and blood.  It takes discipline to say no to the distractions and cultural pull towards "busy" and strength to maintain a more-focused life.
What can you do if you are overwhelmed with the responsibilities you face today?  Pray and ask God for help and wisdom regarding what your focus should be.  Look for non-essentials you can trim from your day and your life.  I always go back to this book, which I've read several times, when I'm feeling overwhelmed with my life because it helps me find my focus.  Also, recognize that we must embrace the work we have to do and work hard because work is a part of life....yes, even the simple life!

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