Clear Your Plate

We eat dinner together as a family just about every night of the week. I find it kind of funny in an odd, I-must-be-completely-out-of-step-with-the-world way when I see headlines on Yahoo! or blaring from the news networks about the death of the family dinnertime. It's alive and kicking in my house, peeps.

Granted, some nights are busier than others and dinner is a quick affair because one of us needs to dash off to some meeting or activity, but eating together as a family has always been a high priority for Knute and I. He rises early at o'dark-thirty and heads into work at Big Giant Corporation just so that he can be home for dinner every night while I do some serious meal planning every month so that I can get dinner on the table every night without pulling my hair out.

Dinnertime is more than just eating; there is the chance for everyone to catch up at the end of the day, telling tales of what good things or challenging moments this day brought. There is the chance to try new things (or throw a loud, pouty fit at the request that you please try just ONE bite!). And there is the chance to practice good manners, using words like please and thank you and excuse me, as well as the time-honored tradition of clearing your own plate when you're finished.

As Lent marches on toward March and the long month of giving and sacrifice, I keep coming back to the metaphor of clearing my own plate.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Lent arrives at the lowest energy time of the year for me.

Every year, February finds me tired - tired of winter snow, tired of volunteering, tired of the the cold and flu germs that have hopped happily from one of my children to the next to me. I am tired of blogging, tired of trying to find some balance between life and writing, tired of running here and there, and tired at the thought of all the organizing and spring cleaning that awaits me in the basement and in every closet and corner of my house.

Lent reminds me to look at my plate and really see what I've piled on for myself. All good things, yes, but still too much. Even a plate overflowing with things that are good for me can and will be too much for me in the long run.

But clearing my plate is hard to do - what good thing do I take away?

Or, to put the question a different way - to whom do I say no?

I still don't have the answer to that question but I do know that once February is upon me, I have to seriously consider it before life (usually in the form of a two or three day crippling stomach flu) decides to clear my plate for me. 

I'm not trying to find balance because I know that idea is just a pretty fallacy for us moms; the best we can do as moms is to keep all the plates spinning at the same time, whether fast or slow. 

What I am trying to do to find the strength within myself to set boundaries on my time and energy without suffering from daily pangs of guilt.

Wish me luck.