Monday, March 23, 2015

Balanced Efficiency

I love Saturdays. I love waking early, getting dressed and attacking a day full of possibilities - mostly, in my mind, the possibility of catching up, working on big projects, getting as much done as possible. The absence of school and presence of another adult in the house opens the door to things I'm not usually able to get to during the week. In my mind, a good Saturday is one where I work ceaselessly and wind up exhausted and asleep by ten pm. I love that feeling of accomplishment.

There is one thing I struggle with on that quest for complete Saturday domination. My huge to do list requires efficiency that waits for no man and, as a result, my patience is severely tested. If made to wait for even a few minutes for something I need from someone else, I can feel it prickling. My internal time piece counting down the moments with increasing urgency because I must get to all the things. Even including little ones in my work eats at me, knowing I could move faster, better, work harder without them in my way.

Thinking that way is a bit of a problem.

This past week, a few big things touched my community. A Mama I know lost her 3 week old baby. A fellow blogger lost her battle with cancer and left behind four small children. Hard and horrible things happen every day, but something about these particular instances stopped me. These are women approximately my age, living lives not that different than my own. They could be me.

Sunday morning, getting ready for church, I thought about efficiency...and remembered (too late) that I had decided not to fuss at my family to get them out of the door on time.  Oops.

Being efficient in and of itself isn't a bad thing. It can be almost a virtue of sorts, the kind of thing one looks for when hiring a potential employee, for example. An efficient home can be  a quite peaceful place to live, one that never feels particularly rushed because everything is done how it should. The trouble begins, as with most things, when we forsake all else in pursuit of that one thing.

In family life, it's a tough balance to strike. Whether you stay at home all day or go to work, some things are going to have to be done, and done while also living in relationship with others. Keeping what matters most in the forefront of your mind can be difficult when there are meals to prepare and clean up afterward, a steady march of dirty laundry to deal with, bills to pay. It can be easy to elevate those things while pushing aside the better part - the human part.

The truth of it is - sometimes relationships require our undivided attention. Sometimes the dishes will sit in the sink because we stopped and had a heart to heart after supper instead of rushing on to the next thing. Sometimes life will look a little bit messier than we'd like, or the ultimate list of Saturday domination ends up fizzling out because something came up that needed us to slow, think, relate.

It's all a balance. One that I struggle to find each and every day. What am I called to in this moment? What is the next right thing? What is the better part for me, for them, right now?

Sometimes it's getting the chores done. The clean slate of the weekend. A family working together. And sometimes it's recognizing that today is just not that day.

It's a different sort of domination. A domination of self in pursuit of something better, knowing that none of this is a guarantee. A balanced life is one that blends work with life, and never loses sight of what matters the most.

I'm still an efficiency addict, and I doubt that will change. But I hope to also be someone who can be relied upon to be thoughtful, helpful, sensitive and self effacing. At the end of the day, that's the sort of life I want to live.

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1 comment:

  1. At our house we call this "Saturday Syndrome": both parents have their own (often unspoken!) plan for how they want to spend this glorious free-ish day of the week, and then by mid-afternoon, one or the other is often (unspokenly!) cranky about how the day isn't going their way. We try to recognize this now and call each other out on it, lovingly, but also try to make a little space in Saturday for each of us to have a little time to do what we want - be uber-efficient and tackle to-dos, or start a new project that we've been itching to try. But it's always important to put people, not efficiency, first as you so wisely write!


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