Lebanon Reporter

Columns

July 9, 2014

Take time for the important stuff

Here lately, I have been trying to wrap my brain around the fact that time has its own Energizer Bunny, and it’s not going to slow down just for me.My oldest daughter will turn 22 in a few weeks. When she was a toddler with a penchant toward the worst possible public temper tantrums, I would cry to hubby, “My life is over. She will NEVER turn 18!”Now I find myself wondering how it happened so quickly. One minute she’s pitching a fit because she doesn’t want her preschool picture taken, and the next she’s planning her college graduation. I should add that she has become a lovely young woman, and we can take her pretty much anywhere without embarrassment.Our son will soon be 20 and towers over me by more than a foot. He sailed fairly smoothly through the teen years, unless you count that time he smoked a cinnamon stick. Never mind dad has a humidor full of cigars, why not light up something off the spice rack? I have no clue how boys think (a common thread throughout my life), yet even in mid-life I am continually amused by them.Our middle daughter recently turned 17, and is preparing for senior pictures. She was the baby for 10 years, but graciously passed that role on to her now 7-year-old sister and 6-year-old brother. I like listening to her work through things logically, and come to smart decisions. For example, at six feet tall you can imagine how often she is asked to play basketball. In seventh grade she was planning to go out for the team, but when it came down to it she said, “I don’t really like basketball. I’m only trying out because everyone says I should.”I was proud of her for thinking it through before making a commitment based on what others thought. I was well into adulthood before I got to that point. I would sign up for anything and everything out of obligation, guilt, or both. Part of that comes from having parents who were deeply involved in ministry. It’s hard to say no when your entire life’s calling is to serve and help others. So, I learned from example that when someone asks you to do something, you simply do it.Unfortunately, people take advantage of that, and they often assign tasks to ministers that really aren’t the minister’s responsibility at all. Since I married a preacher’s kid, we started out life with the idea that you do, do, do, regardless of time constraints, family responsibilities, or personal interests. At one point in our lives, not only were we homeschooling three children, but hubby had a full-time job and we were each devoting an additional 40 hours per week to various ministries and community causes.I remember one Sunday evening, as we were sitting down to Bible study, one of our kids had a bit of a meltdown. I apologetically stated to no one in particular, “She’s so tired. We haven’t been home since we left for church this morning.”A wise, older lady commented, “What’s wrong with that picture?”She knew we’d been busy doing all that was expected of us. At that point I decided to quit everything in life besides taking care of my husband, home and children. I completely cleared my plate, much to the surprise and chagrin of those who felt compelled to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that very worthwhile causes might fall by the wayside. Thankfully, I recognized that if I was the only one keeping a cause alive, maybe it just wasn’t that important. Not surprisingly, all of those ministries and organizations managed to thrive in spite of my absence.It took a long time to feel comfortable saying no. Now I probably say it too much, but I need to carefully guard my time with my children. Before I know it my 6-year-old will be preparing for his senior pictures and puffing on cinnamon sticks. Limiting my commitments so that I can enjoy watching my kids grow is the only defense I have against the Energizer Bunny of time.Truitt is an author, speaker and mother of five. Follow her on Twitter (@GingerTruitt), find her on the web at www.gingertruitt.com, or contact her at ginger@gingertruitt.com.

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