We stopped by the Wawa for a late dinner, and all I could manage to eat was a coke icee and some pepperoni and cubed cheese in a plastic cup. Don't judge me--it's not like you came over and cooked.
This phrase, "Please don't make more work for me," arises during certain times in my life, and this is perhaps my mantra for the next month as I jump back into school, settle the children into their own schools, close out my time as pastor at tiny church, and create a home out of our new apartment.
"Please don't make more work for me," is what I said all day to the children as I cleaned. I didn't mind cleaning while they played. I had put out a pathetic, last minute plea on facebook for someone to take the children while I cleaned, but nobody was able to help. A few people responded with humorous suggestions to make the children clean as well, but we have been moving for two weeks now: packing, cleaning, lifting, going up and down stairs, making changes big and small. The children are tired. I am tired. Scrubbing an apartment thoroughly was not on their can-do list for today. So I was delighted to let them play while I worked.
So I looked straight at that child with all the authority I could muster and said, "Please do not make more work for me." I'd like to say that he stopped in his tracks and put the crevice tool down, but it was actually a several minute long negotiation that resulted in this disgusted exclamation: "Sheesh! You're no fun, Mom."
I'm finding this carries over to the rest of my life too. And it's not just physical work. I don't have time or internal resources for extra emotional or spiritual work either. I find myself avoiding people that drain me of emotional and spiritual resources--people that I love and care about too! I just don't have it. And I won't have it tomorrow or Thursday either (and especially since Thursday I take the children to the dentist, and *that's* always a kick in the pants).
It happens every now and then that I have too much to do and it all has to be done now. And in those times, I find myself saying over and over, "Please don't make more work for me." Because the work I do have is overflowing, and one extra thing will disrupt that flow. I say it to the cosmos and Jesus too: "Please don't make more work for me. No flat tires. No family emergencies. No complications with the children, the church, schoolwork, custody arrangements. Please no broken appliances or anything else that costs money. Everything is running along at break neck speed, and all my focus is on precision and detail, making sure we keep running.
It's like this: I've been carrying loads of cripcrap down stairs to my car for a week now. 32 steps to be exact: 2 sets of 8 steps, then a long flight of 16 steps. 2 more cement steps to the sidewalk, then down off the curb to get to the van. When you're carrying boxes and can't see your feet, you need to knows these things--you gotta count the steps as you go. Otherwise I will trip and fall, breaking everything in the box and my body too, and that will definitely make more work for me. So when the children come out while I am carrying boxes and counting, and they ask me a question about how many popsicles come in a box, I say to them, "Please don't make more work for me." And then I feel out each of the rest of the steps with my feet carefully, because by now I have disastrously lost count of the steps.
But maybe the biggest culprit is myself, because assuredly the person who makes more unnecessary work for me than anyone else is my own silly self. I forget I am allowed to say no. I forget I am allowed to call in sick. I forget that I can't run forever in this frantically precise mode of existence. I forget I do not have to engage every twitter discussion that catches my attention. So perhaps the biggest lesson of these seasons in my life is a reminder to say to myself often, "Please don't make more work for me."