Margin

It’s been a busy few years. In the past five years, Marshall and I have brought 3 beautiful children into the world. That’s a really cool thing. But also…3 kids in 5 years. Actually 3 kids in 4 years is better math as our youngest just turned 1 this month!

I’m tired. Marshall is tired. The kids are….bouncing off the walls.

I love being a mom. Marshall adores being a dad.

Unfortunately, being a parent means giving up quite a bit to take on these roles. At least that’s what Marshall and I have come to understand in the past few months. It took us almost 5 years to figure out that you can’t live like you did when you didn’t have kids when you do have kids. Profound huh? But we’ve tried to do so anyway. Marshall with cycling and work and volunteering and me with work and volunteering and just about anything I could convince someone to let me do.

Then our church did a series called Crazy Busy. Being on staff, I was privy to the coming series, and the book that inspired it. I started listening to the audio version while doing laundry one day. It took me a week to get through it but at the end I was convinced there were things in our lifestyle we needed to change.

When Marshall and I got married, he used to joke that we wouldn’t make the typical mistakes newlyweds make. No, we would make brand new never-attempted-before mistakes. This would make me so mad. Of course I knew we would make mistakes but I felt that if we paid enough attention to those who had gone before, if we were sponges and soaked up the wisdom and advice of others that we would make less mistakes and definitely not new mistakes! Alas 8 years later, we’ve made a ton of mistakes and ironically Marshall, in all his humor and wisdom, was right. We have made some pretty impressive mistakes. Even when we did the first born, type A, pros and cons lists and have made what we thought was a well thought out decision, we’ve looked back and saw the things we didn’t think through and often exclaimed: What were we thinking? Were we thinking?

I remember sitting in a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class a few months back. As we watched the video, Dave was remarking on how those with debt are attempting to maintain a lifestyle that they can’t afford. They are living like they don’t have debt except…they do have debt. Although he was speaking about finances, I realized that Marshall and I had been attempting to maintain a lifestyle that we can not afford either because we’ve been living like we don’t have three small children except…we do have three small children! 

Marshall and I talked about this and so began our adventure in learning to find and value margin. Remember we are list makers, planners, chart makers. Through many talks, dry erase board sessions, praying, more talking, more mistakes, lots of tears, reading another book called Addicted to Busy, we started scaling back our lives. We started owning the fact that we have three small children and they have certain needs and nap schedules and stimulation thresh-holds. It was hard. Giving up activities we love, giving up events we wanted to support through service, stepping down from my job. Very hard stuff. *

We are still scaling back. We are still learning when to say no. But the more we scale back, the more margin we have to do those things that really matter.

We want margin to love our children and each other well. We want margin to serve and give to the right causes with exuberance and joy. We are about 5 months in to this journey of simplifying. We make new mistakes often…that’s just how we are (I think it’s funny most of the time). Thankfully, we are also learning to create some boundaries that are helping us to enjoy our children and each other. We are learning to love others well instead of living in the hurried frenzy where nothing gets done and good intentions sadly stay only good intentions.  Saying no to good opportunities is hard but as we learn to say no, we gain the ability to say yes to the right things.

This year we look forward to margin. Room to do and room to just be.

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*some of the things we’ve scaled back on, we hope to add back in time in reasonable doses, but for now we will embrace our lives filled with the precious demands of littles

 

Patty Parker

My name is Patty Parker. I write about finding beauty in the every day.

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