Saturday, August 02, 2008

a question for the over-achiever, perfectionist types

My whole life (okay, maybe not WHOLE... but at least since high school) I've preferred to be busy. I'm a multi-tasker-perfectionist with an uncanny ability to procrastinate. Those may seem like contradicting forces... and, well, they really are.
But that's proven helpful to me over the years - staying busy keeps me from procrastinating too much because I have to get my butt in gear if I want to get things done. And the Perfectionist-Over-Achiever-Katie definitely wants to get things done. And Procrastinator-Katie keeps me from killing myself with doing too much at once.
Here's my current dilemma (I alluded to this in my last post):
I was always a pretty busy gal. In high school, it was dance, NHS, musicals & plays, tennis, youth group, work, and the other standard teenage-girl pursuits of shopping and talking on the phone. Undergrad had me in some clubs (on the E-Board of one), pursuing 2 degrees at once, being an RA in the residence halls, belonging to a home group in my church, and other standard college-girl pursuits such as shopping and talking on the phone. By grad school I was married, juggling classes and my job as an assistant hall director in the residence halls, and after grad school I was working full-time, taking care of our new house and leading (with my husband) for YoungLife/WYLdLife in our area (and still shopping and talking on the phone occasionally). I've always had a full calendar. Until now.
Mark is still a YL leader. Any of you who have been in almost any type of ministry (but especially those with kids, I think) know that you always feel like you could/should be doing more. His schedule in the fall will include regular meetings at least 3 nights a week, along with appearances at sporting events and fun, spontaneous social activities with our high school friends. On top of work.
Here's my problem: Although I often felt completely inadequate and out-of-my-element as a YL leader, I love the kids I've gotten to know (girls I've known since they were in 6th grade are now in driver's training, heading into 10th grade - eek!). I miss seeing them regularly. I loved the toughness of the job, and the incredible harvest I reaped when I did not let myself grow weary of doing good. I was serving Christ in a real, tangible, sacrificial way.
I don't lead anymore. I stopped about two months before Hazel was born because I knew it would be too much for me. I wanted to focus on my family... but....I am having the darndest time shaking the feeling that I should be doing more. That I should be the SuperMama who is knee-deep in some kind of ministry and has a perfect house and is out and about and doing things. I've struggled with this kind of feeling before, and I really don't think it's from God. I think Satan is able to pinpoint my weaknesses and use them in such sneaky ways... I wind up feeling so defeated.
Being a stay-at-home-mama is so much more than I ever thought it would be. It is so much cooler, so much harder, so much more fun, so much more boring, so much more challenging... so much more. I know this job is important. I want to do it - and I know how blessed am I to be able to do it.
I guess my question is... how do you know when to let yourself "just" (haha) be Mama? And how do you do that?? Don't get me wrong - I like keeping my house organized, providing a clean & pretty home for my family, cooking, baking... it's all good. I know it's valuable. I'm just not used to having that be my focus. Why does my brain keep telling me that it's not enough to do those things?
I don't know how much sense this post is making... but any input, advice or encouragement you could provide is welcome, friends.

9 thoughts:

Courtney said...

Have more kids. ;) LOL

Katie said...

Weirdly - I DO want to have more kids because of this feeling (well, I always wanted to have more anyway) - but I know that having more kids, at different ages, with different games/tasks/commitments will help - keep me feeling busy and help me go quietly Mama-crazy. :)
Thanks for the tip, Court... we'll get right on that one! :)
Oh - and the washing my face with oil - still really like it, although it's best to only do 2-3 times a week, and wash however you normally would the rest of the time. But I think it's great - a little goes a LONG way, and my skin feels fabulous.

Natalie Jackson said...

You wash your face with oil? What does it do?

Katie said...

Natalie -
Check out this website:
Sounds weird, but it actually works great!!

Chris said...

I thought about this for a few minutes. I really didn't have any great and profound answers pop into my head. All that was there was "well, you're going to be okay with it because you have to be okay with it." You know, one of those answers that isn't really an answer, but there's no escaping it's truth. Like when Moses asked God what His name was and all he heard back was "I am."

Anyways, I'm sure that little ramble didn't help, but I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I'm sure every moment you look into Hazel's eyes, you're reminded of the depth and privilege of your new job :)

Julie said...

Ok, I'm so not an expert on any of this. I just have my experience going for me right now.

As you know, my husband Jamie is a full time associate minister. Church life is a major part of our daily/weekly time.

After each of our children were born I decided to take a year off. I didn't lead anything or plan anything at church. I attended fun stuff, but I wasn't a part of the leadership end of things.

I did this to give myself time to figure out who I was. I truly believe that we each go through seasons of life. I chose to take time to figure out how the mom with small children season would effect me.

During those years off I prayed about it and watched the people in our church. When my year was up I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It was never a huge leadership role, but I was serving outside my family.

I think it's very important to include your children in your serving. They should know what you're doing for others to show Jesus' love. My favorite thing to do right now is making meals for people who are either sick or who just had a baby. I love taking the kids with me. They like it too.

Because of this season of life, it's hard to commit to something regular or something scheduled. (I'm talking about you and me.) But, God will bring things to you that you can do. And, it really does seem to change as each year passes.

Kaycee said...

I am by no means an expert either, but I share the perfectionist-procrastinator trait with you (it really does work well sometimes!). I am kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum with work looming just a few short weeks away and me trying to enjoy my "Mommy time" before I am not the one home with Madison everyday. I just wanted to agree that I have struggled with the "just be a Mama" idea as well in my couple months off and though I don't have an answer for you I know that you will figure out what is best for your family and your faith. (oh, and the comment before me had a great plan I think!) Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts - they always make me think too!

Chris said...

thanks for the comment katie. about your advice - too chez :) i'll remember it for sure and try as hard as i can to believe its truth

Irritable Mother said...

"I am having the darndest time shaking the feeling that I sould be doing more. That I should be the SuperMama..."
Oh, Katie, do I ever understand you! Right down to the over-achiever, perfectionist gene we both seem to be carrying.
Can I say something very straight forward to you?


Receiving grace was one of the hardest things I have ever done as a mom.
Grace which says I don't have to be the perfect mom.
Grace which allows my house to be messy more often than it's clean.
Grace which says it's OK that I'm 14 months behind on my scrapbooking. (Still working on the grace that will stop counting those months. LOL)
Grace which reminds me the ministry I have to my family is the most important one God has given me. Even more important than that which I have among other moms.

Yes. It's great to find areas to serve outside motherhood. I love Sunday's at 9:15 when I get to be Mrs. Hossink - the Sunday school teacher.
But we are not less loved by God or less worthy contributors to His kingdom when we are "just" moms. That attack on our personhood comes from our enemy and is not worth our attention!

Whew! Didn't mean to be so wordy...but I feel strongly about this topic. *grin*