Talking to my adult stepchildren I made a jarring discovery. As children they thought I was lazy, languishing on the couch reading all day. It never dawned on their pre-teen brains the house was nearly always clean, they had well balanced and varied dinners, and clean clothes stacked for them to place in their dressers on a near daily basis.
I’d always dreamed of living the “Leave it to Beaver” idyllic family life as a stay-at-home mom with a husband who went out and brought home the bacon and 2.5 children who came clamoring through the door after school with both blue ribbons and minor dilemmas for me to help them solve.
In keeping with this made for T.V. dream, I spent my days at home with my young daughter Alison, cleaning, doing laundry, crafts, creating well curated dinner menus, and any number of other tasks and feel good things like Bible Study. Oh and not mention, managing the daily care of a critically ill child. With all of this productivity I felt I was earning a wisp down time.
Earned time in hand, I’d curl up on the couch with a book and read for about an hour before the kids came home. Turns out, that’s what the kids noticed….me reading EVERY. Day. The clean clothes and bathrooms waiting for them, not so much. The well thought out dinners huh?
Of course, by the time I made this jarring discovery, the now adult children had made a jarring discovery of their own… a magical fairy hadn’t provided the cozy home, clean clothes, and culinary masterpieces, I had. They were appropriately grateful. Their observations of my daily reading habit was also an accurate one.
I’m an introvert who craves downtime. A good book with nothing else always sounds delightful. It also felt lazy and indulgent so I justified it by earning it. I kept a clean house, did the Pinterest craft projects before there was a Pinterest, and even led the Bible studies. It’s unclear how much of that busy ness I did because it simply needed to be done, or more importantly brought me joy, versus earning myself a ticket to be “lazy”.
What I know now is, it isn’t laziness. It is much needed rest. It is recharging my batteries. It is leaving space for being creative. It doesn’t need to be earned, it needs to be respected and fed. It turns out, the more downtime I have, the more productive I am.
There are those of us who need lots of quiet and nothingness to function at optimal levels. If you have this need, yet have denied it or simply left it invalidated, I’m here to say, “I see you and I hear you.” It isn’t an indulgence or luxury to take quiet time. Downtime, quiet, and space are all oxygen to your soul. Without any tasks or To Do lists as payment, consider this your permission to simply just be, for the sake of just being.