Have you ever noticed that our culture places a lot of emphasis on productivity and efficiency? I'm sure this is brand new information to you. Even as I type these words, I admit that I had to force myself this afternoon to go lie down rather than to sit here and type out this post... to see words and pictures come out on a screen, or to see toys and books on the shelf from the floor, or the see the dishwasher empty then full, then empty then full (then empty then full) feels good- like I've accomplished something in this little Dawson microcosm. I also try to use their video time to get these chores done in a speedier fashion (No, Baby Einstein, I do not use your videos for interactive play time). We housewives might be the worst at succumbing to the pressures of productivity over any fortune five hundred CEO (sorry to pick on you if one is reading this).
So now that I've blown our cover, I wanted to mention a little secret that has been revealed to me recently. Let me clear the air that it is not my intelligence or mothering skills that has revealed the following thoughts, but the loving ways of God- He is such a gentle teacher when I stop to listen...
1) We went on a FAMILY RETREAT in Panama City Beach, Florida. I imagine that those two words seem diametrically opposed to one another, and I'm sure one could argue that a retreat is NOT a waste of time to go on retreat, but on this particular retreat, there is a point in the afternoon called family time, and I love the way that the priest spoke of it. He said something like, "this is meant to be a time to waste with your family! Nothing else is happening, you aren't preparing for the next week's events, you'll be building sand castles that will be washed away within minutes and it will be all for nothing, and the only thing to do is talk and play with your kids, and it is incredibly inefficient!"
What a beautiful time this turned out to be! After a morning of spiritual formation among adults, the afternoon is spent with my family! We've been on three family retreats so far, and I can attest to the incredible amount that DOESN'T get done- but so much happens that cannot be measured (unless, of course, we post our family time experiences on Facebook, because otherwise, did it really happen?) The best example of this is David with the kids at the beach. Their favorite thing to do is DIG A HOLE! It's a group effort, and it's their favorite thing to do on the beach besides wading out into the water in his arms, in which case, whoever is left on shore with me gets to throw endless handfuls of sand into the waves.
And of course, Mary Clare (at 7 weeks) did this the entire time on the beach.
Talk about a team player!
The other aspect of wasting time together is that just because you're not do work doesn't mean that spending time as a family is easy. It's very hard, not only because we are fighting our own desire to be getting something else done, but because spending time with our families brings about... all the things that happen when you hang with your fam -> this means, fighting, disciplining, spills, arguments, misunderstanding, and frustration. But the beauty of it is that we're learning to be family, and that's all we're doing...
We have a little rule in our family that Sunday's are always family time- nothing else happens on Sundays. We don't do anything but hang out and eat (and have glorious sleep). This is difficult for me (and I'll sometimes empty the dishwasher if we've run out of counter space due to the dirty dishes, but David looks at me like I'm cheating) usually because I am looking around the house and seeing the projects that didn't get done that weekend and fearing the week ahead because of it. This practice has become so joy-filled and fruitful for us!!
2) Micah has needed us to waste time with HIM lately:
As it turns out, having a baby has rocked this little guy's world. As much as I can tell, his love languages are physical touch and quality time - two things that he has NOT had from me since Mary Clare has been born. He will be TWO this Saturday (can you believe it?) and his needs, when not met, have made him extremely high maintenance... poor little guy. A major fruit of the family retreat was that Micah and I had a lot of time together just the two of us. There was a lot for the children to do while the parents were receiving spiritual formation, but Micah would have NONE of the nursery, despite it being a haven of little kid toys and goldfish. He spent most of his time with me while David was giving talks, and the fruits of that really showed itself the following week when we returned home. He was more content, sillier, happier, and had less tantrums. It showed me that when I take the time to focus on Micah rather than constantly appease him (Want some juice? Here's your passy. Just a second) we were both much happier (and so was the rest of the household). Sometimes he just needs me to be doing nothing else but hanging out with him - books, snuggling, holding him while I check the mail, etc). This is one of those situations that, at the end of the day, you pray that Jesus and Mary fill in the gaps where our children may not have felt loved). I'm so grateful for this revelation from God.
3) Prayer- wasting time with the Lord:
In Domestic Church (see "retreat" link to know more... who am I kidding? If you have EVER read my blog, you've heard about Domestic Church) one of the daily commitments is individual prayer. The Israelites called it the "Tent of Meeting" because when they were in the desert, Moses used to leave the community and go away to a tent where he would speak with God face to face. Moses came out of the tent with a dazzling white face... that's exactly what my prayer is like... all the time!
In the last few years of learning how to improve this kind of prayer, a dear friend and priest helped me to further qualify what it means to pray by telling me to ask myself the question "am I wasting time with God?" In other words, the ONLY prayer during the day can't be done WHILE other things are going on. Mowing the grass, driving to work, folding the clothes. Can we converse with the Lord while these things are going on? ABSOLUTELY! Imagine, though, if the only conversations that you have with your spouse were had while doing something else. What about our children? How close would you feel to him/her? It's the same with God. So to truly pray means to be sitting in silence (or at a significantly smaller decibel level) and be with Him WHILE DOING NOTHING ELSE for a few minutes every day. AND THIS IS SO SO HARD!!
I'm sharing this revolutionary idea with you NOT because I've mastered it, but quite the contrary. The first step for me has been during that first morning video- it's a personal goal to NOT to go through the house like a white tornado trying the get things done, but to go to my room and enter the tent of meeting. Most of the time, I can merely acknowledge the reality that God is present before my little Micah man is frantically trying to open the door because I have left his sight. But for a few seconds I have focused on the images on our wall - usually the crucifix and Our Lady of Guadalupe and concentrate on the presence of the Lord (and His mother), and the fruits of those few precious moments is astounding.
Thanks for reading... now go be unproductive!!