Alone Time or Junk Time?

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I began this blog some years ago because I felt constantly unsettled, pulled in all directions, and like chaos followed me around like a shadow. I was in a state that I didn’t want to live in our drag my family through. Starting a word study of “peace” in the Bible and Catechism helped me a great deal, but I eventually let it slide like so many other projects I have started.

With the advent of baby number nine, and my oldest child well into her 20’s, and all the developmental stages in between always accounted for my life has taken forms of chaos I never dreamed possible. And yet somehow I know that constant inner turmoil is not what God has in mind for me. Surely, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You” must mean that there can be some relief from restlessness.

So I have been reevaluating lately, asking myself what exactly it is that I am longing for. My hope is that I can help my husband and children to have a haven of peace in our home. There is enough chaos out in the world – our home should be an oasis from that. But I have trouble doing that if I have no inner peace to give them. Thus this peace study; my own search, via Bible and Catechism study, for peace. To draw closer to God and find the Peace He holds especially for His own children, and only then can I communicate that to my family.

How on earth does a mother of nine find peace?

A standard answer here is that she needs some time to herself. Yes, this is true. But honestly? I get a lot of time to myself, probably too much. I take that time away from my family. And while this “indulging myself a little bit” is supposed to bring me peace and allow me to give of myself to my family some more – it never does. It leaves me feeling a little more drained and a little more overwhelmed when I have to step out of my cocoon and rejoin family life. I think that the problem is that I have not been using that time very wisely. (Time management was never my strong suit!) I need to take time for myself, but I need to do things with it that are actually going to help me towards my goal of having a peaceful, loving family life, being a good wife, and most importantly being closer to God.

Well, doesn’t that just sound like more work? Don’t I already have enough to do? I thought I was supposed to get a break from work!!!

Think of it this way – If you were starving… just ravenously hungry, junk food would fill up your stomach. You might even grow accustomed to it and like it a whole lot. But it always leaves you craving something else, some real nourishment.

I have been “recharging myself” with junk time. Minutes that never amount to anything and that I will never get back, What I really need is real nourishing time. I need time to pray and study scripture, I need time to exercise (my body is a temple – a temple in disrepair, but a temple nonetheless), and I need time to plan how to run my home. There is always going to be time for fun – and being with friends or bonding with family over a game or some shopping is certainly very important – but if I don’t do the very basic things then my time with friends and family is bogged down by my number one peace thief: nagging thoughts.

Nagging thoughts are all those things you should have done. The phone calls you procrastinated, the gift you should have purchased, balancing the checkbook. You ate too many cookies, you wasted time on this or that. Yeah, I have done it all and more. And at 2AM, when my eyes pop open and rest evades me I wonder why I didn’t just take a few minutes to do the things I should have done yesterday. And there are tons of good reasons. Usually it is just because I got distracted and forgot. But sometimes I just avoid things and then they follow me around, pecking at my brain until I give in and do them.

I have been watching people lately. I know some people who I consider to be peaceful people and who have homes that are peaceful and restful places to be. And you know what I noticed about most of them? When something needs to be done, they just do it. They seem to understand something that has taken me my whole lifetime (so far) to grasp: it is just much less trouble to do what needs to be done now, instead of waiting until later when other jobs have piled up on top of it and not only will it take you twice as long, but you have spent all kinds of energy letting it nag at you in the mean time.

This post in long and rambly and if you have gotten this far, I hope it was worth it! Here it is in bullet points:

  • Time to myself should be fruitful, nourishing time, not junk time.
  • I need to stay on task and do things when they need to be done.
  • While these things sound neither peaceful nor restful, I think they will result in both.

Originally posted 8/2008, revised for number of children.

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