Stillness and Hustle
I’m sitting in my car in my neighbor’s driveway before sunrise. It’s cold and the heater is on full blast, fogging up the car windows. I’m driving carpool this morning and waiting while boots are tugged and backpacks are zipped. Soon, we will drive away into the busy world but for now, I am motionless as I wait. As always when I sit still after hustling, my mind is spinning a little bit, my heart rate a little elevated. Did I remember to sign that field trip form? Did the kids pack snack? I need to respond to that email. After this stop, where to next….and next…and next…?
Then suddenly, something catches my eye. A rectangle of light has appeared to my left. It’s a small side window in the house next door and I can see a lamp shining on a cozy reading nook. From my vantage point, I can just make out an elbow and a hand and a book held open. And it hits me. Someone is... reading. Reading! In the midst of the early morning chaos of parental life, someone in another stage of life is sitting in stillness.
Doesn’t it feel like life is sometimes working against us? There are times when I look at my life and think, Alright, I built all of this. Now I’m exhausted so will someone please come live it for me? With three kids all going in separate directions and two working parents, our family calendar looks like the flight schedule for a busy airport.
Although we’ve opted out of much of the hustle, there’s still plenty of bustle in the Bensi household. My husband and I try hard to ensure that the kids choose only the activities they truly enjoy and so far we’ve managed to avoid the more time-consuming travel and competition teams. But even still, it’s a full-time job in itself to coordinate it all. I don’t particularly like the person I become when I’m yelling, “Everybody in the car!!!!” I mean, are we fleeing for our lives or just late for kiddie sports??
And yet, on this particular morning, here was this little rectangle of light reminding me that this nutty season of life is just that: a season. Someone just a few feet away was sitting in a quiet room, reading a book. My quiet season will come. And you’d better believe I will long for the days when my calendar was overflowing with ink.
I wonder if the person sitting in that peaceful reading nook happened to look down and notice me, full of motionless nervous energy, ready to burst off to the next and the next and the next task for that day. I wonder what she thought, looking at me. Did she smile a knowing and wistful smile as she turned back to her page?
I won’t tell you to stop hustling because I’ve decided that’s not possible. Telling parents to stop running ragged is like telling an ant hill to knock it off. It just makes us add guilty to overwhelmed and exhausted. Most of us are already not so sure we’re doing this parenting thing right. Instead, I would like to offer you a new message today: parenthood is busy…and it’s supposed to be.
Stillness and Hustle. Two different mornings, two stages of life. Two seasons. I for one have found that I can enjoy my hustle a little more knowing that stillness is still there, patiently waiting for me.