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All year long I’ve struggled with feeling overwhelmed.

Big time.

Like the I-can’t-even-breathe kind of overwhelm.

And before you tell me “that that’s understandable … You have a lot on your plate,” remember this is not my first rodeo.

My kids are old. Everybody is potty trained. They can all buckle themselves into the car. Heck, one is even old enough to legally babysit!

This is not an issue of amount of work to do. This is something else.

I’ve always been a go-getter. Very task-oriented. Unfortunately, my natural measure of a day is directly related to the amount of tasks accomplished.

So you can see how discouraging it is for someone like me to be paralyzed. To be overwhelmed.

But why?

What’s wrong with me? Are my hormones out of whack? Am I depressed? Surely it’s thyroid issues. These are just a few of my many Google-related searches to fix myself.

And then it hit me.

I never get anything done because I never get anything done.

See I am Queen of Lists. Every morning I write a list. I take great joy and satisfaction in crossing off even the tiniest of entries. On the other hand, transferring items to the next day’s list is a shameful act. It hurts my soul (only a slight dramatization).

Herein lies the problem. My current life is FULL of things that will.never.get.done.

When I worked at the paper I had a weekly feeling of accomplishment when the issue went to bed. Sometimes it was even a greater sense of victory after finalizing a big special edition. Accomplishment junkie. That feeling of getting it done pushed me to get more done. The momentum worked well for me.

My current world is so different. Schooling is not done. Dishes are a constant, as well as dusting, toilet scrubbing. Oh, and all the animals and humans to feed. People are always hungry around here! Never anything to cross off. No closure. No clocking out for the day to go home to relax. My work and my home are all the same.

I accomplish many things in a day. They are just things I’ve never trained myself to measure. Hopefully, this will change.

But is this really my fault?

Is this not a bigger issue. Dare I say it’s societal?

Take the occupation box on nearly every form you fill out. Homemaker?

Why do I cringe with an almost knee-jerk reaction to qualify myself with the fact that I also have a bachelor’s degree and worked outside the home for over 10 years?

Am I not doing the most important job on the earth: attempting to guide four beautiful humans into adulthood?

  • Have a smile and a laugh with your 13-year-old – CHECK
  • Wash and scrub the baseball pants. Again. – CHECK
  • Hear your 11-year-old go on and on and on and on about Nerf guns. – CHECK
  • Calm your daughter during a thunderstorm. – CHECK
  • Have a heart-to-heart with all four of your kids about how God is working for good even when we don’t understand it. – CHECK

Yep, there are so many things I DO accomplish in a day. Even when the dishes are strewn across the counters and the floors are cluttered with dust bunnies.

Here’s my plan to “fix” myself. (Only God can help society.) Along with my daily to do list, I’m going to write a nightly list of all I DID get done. The dishes. The laughs. The stories. The ball games. The laundry. The hugs. My goal is to shift the focus from the temporary things to the eternal things. The heart things. The only things that really matter. The only things I will actually care about and remember as I lay on my death bed.

If I attempt to measure my days with the ruler I will use when I’m older, I’m hoping the overwhelm will dissipate. I’m hoping gratitude will surface. And just being present to be present will be enough for me.

I’ve locked myself in the bedroom to write this. Even as I type and work through these feelings, hoping for solitude to sort it all out, somebody found me.

It was my oldest son. He’s 11. He’s tall and thin. He smiles like his dad but has many of my personality traits.

He peeked through my bedroom window (from outside) to tell me he just collected 28 eggs. “Good day for eggs!” he chuckled. Then we laughed together and he strolled off.

Life — my days — should be measured in moments, not tasks.

Categories: Life on the farm

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My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

3 replies

  1. Gina, I enjoy reading your blog. I love following you and your wonderful, adventurous family!

  2. Here is a poem to learn and live by:

    Song for a Fifth Child by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton (1921- )

    “Mother, oh mother, come shake out your cloth!
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

    Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby, loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo.)

    Oh, cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby. Babies don’t keep.”

    Every day is filled with accomplishments. They are called memories and miracles. I applaud you that you will now focus on the accomplishments, and not the tasks.

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