many years ago i hit the reset button on life. one of the handful of times i started over. this was the first time, when my marriage to my high school sweetheart was officially over. i was just 21 years old when we divorced and i began anew. so young, and yet a lifetime already lay behind me.
i didn’t know the first thing i was doing. a small town girl, i grew up in a rural town in wisconsin and shared a life with my childhood crush. quite quickly i was thrust into an entirely new life: fast pace, big city, a whole new world. and dating. good Lord. i met a boy. he asked me on a date and i said yes. but as the week moved on i never heard about his plans. coming off a broken marriage i wasn’t the most confident to begin with, and he was a lot older. a free spirit. so different than anyone i had ever known. not yet comfortable being alone, i made other plans. on friday he approached with a playful smile, “so, what do you want to do?” totally embarrassed i dropped my eyes and said something like: ‘well, when you didn’t tell me what we were doing i made other plans.’ he looked at me with the saddest eyes and said: “tammy, you don’t plan fun.” i felt like the biggest loser on the planet.
that four-word sentence has stuck with me the last 14 years. “you don’t plan fun.”
and you know what, he was right.
we live a fast paced life. though i no longer live in the big city, life certainly isn’t slow. with three kids, a husband, sports, friends and my own desires and interests life can get pretty crazy in a heartbeat. i’m sure you can relate. we’re busy. much of the time we live in a perpetual state of busyness. each of us wants to participate, be involved, belong. we want to say yes! we want to have fun. we want our kids to experience life to the fullest; have every opportunity we had and more. but in the interest of having fun, we’re not having very much fun anymore. we’re trying to plan it. force it. enrolling our kids in sports, camps, music lessons, and endless activities where they can play and have “fun.” as a result we’re over scheduled, exhausted, disheartened and disconnected. we’re disappointed in ourselves because we can’t do it all. we can’t pick them up, run them there, be with them here, balance our responsibilities, pour into our marriages and friendships, create meaningful time together, and make time for ourselves. we’re failing at everything because we’re doing too much. we fall into bed frustrated and exhausted. we thought we were planning fun. but you don’t plan fun.
so all those years ago, a decade before i had kids, this guy was right. but not entirely right.
this last weekend we took a spontaneous trip to sunshine. no plans other than getting on a plane in search of summer. wide open time for fun to happen. and we had the best weekend ever. in fact, we had so much fun that our boys fell asleep on the pool deck, in our arms at dinner, on airplanes, and slept for 16 hours straight when we got home! it was big fun. without a single plan other than being together. a few days of gloriously unscheduled free time.
what i learned is although you don’t plan it, you must make room for fun. in order to make room for fun there has to be space. if we’re planning it, we’re not having it. it runs counter to everything we know, the way it’s always been done. we think if we just plan, we can make it happen. but as a rule we over plan. we over do, because more is better, right? but it’s just not working. because more is not better. more is frayed and frantic. more is tired, weary and overwhelmed. more is less. because the more we try to do, the more we try to know, the more we scatter ourselves, the more superficial and shallow we have to be. and that runs counter to the desires of our heart. because we long to be known. we desire to live deeply. so this frenzied surface running leaves us feeling empty and discouraged. and so tired.
we only have a finite amount of time. and we’re blessed to be moms of young children for a very short window of our lives. and as much as i want it to pass quickly on long difficult whine-filled days, i look to the near future with an anxious heart. i don’t want to miss it. this. these precious moments. the days that i have my babies with me. safe. pulling endless dandelions to put in my hair. messing up our home with dirty feet and greasy fingerprints. inconveniencing my life. teaching me to be selfless. to love unconditionally. reminding me what is important. this is the time to develop relationships. to know them. deeply. intimately. to pour into them with unconditional love. to give them my time. my heart. provide opportunities for us to grow and learn together. to be involved and belong. but more importantly, to belong to us: our family. to invest in them and instill the value of being part of a team: our family team. one not over scheduled or overburdened. one where we sit together, play together, explore and create together. where there is time to eat meals as a family and build connections with one another. and one where there is room for fun.
so i’m making lists. i’m writing down our commitments. everything we do individually and as a family. and i’m crossing things off. i’m going to make room for fun. won’t you join me? take back your life. stop trying to just catch your breath before running to the next thing on your schedule. remember to keep the main thing the main thing. and carve out some special time for you, too. it’s important. it makes us better moms if we have some time for ourselves. join me in an act of defiance against the culture of crazy busy. make room. i think you’ll be so glad you did.