Margin: the reason why the last blog post I wrote was 8 months ago.
Also the reason why I am typing with words like dsldkcm;sd inserted randomly. Holding a toddler while trying to type is like our good friend at theuglyvolvo.com says, "It's only slightly less complicated than kidnapping a person who refuses to stop break dancing."
Margin, that little gem which also means I have approximately only 8 days a year to enjoy photo opps like the ones pictured here.
Also, margin means we have the opportunity to swim in a nice clean Jamaica-blue pool while on vacay. A luxury afforded exactly less than 8% of the world--swimming in a body of water that is not also filled with dirty laundry, children filling water jugs, and cows slopping around.
So, margin is a packed word. We are simultaneously happy with the margin (of time, wealth, health, etc.) that we have--you know, to go to the beach and veg.
Also, (selfishly) bummed about the word margin in relation to time. For example, "Wouldn't it be great to have the margin (read: time to) read a book on the beach and eat cheese popcorn and drink something other than kids' left over juice boxes while I'm getting a tan? Instead of chasing a baby who is an exceptionally fast runner headed straight towards the raging surf with a purple-flag under tow? That would be nice some day."
Margin (as in time) also could be used in context with this sentence, "Wouldn't it be great to have the margin to get together with your friends and their kids every Thursday afternoon and let them run amok while the moms all visit pool-side?"
But alas, our margin seems to be filled up with other things.
Like ensuring all your children get baths regularly.
And also that Shiloh has her birthday present when she turns three. Plus, if it's wrapped in a non-recycled wrapping container, that is serious mom bonus points.
But if your margin (time) has run out and it's the night before the Big Day and you would just like to sit and watch Modern Family, the kid will still turn three whether you reuse last year's birthday bag and crumply tissue paper or not. So waste no margin on this one: your re-charged brain is more important than cute wrapping paper.
Margin (the time kind) seems to be equivalent to that mean high school girl we all once knew.
Constantly making me feel like, "I'll never be good enough." As in, "Wouldn't it be great to have a fun 1st Day of School Breakfast or Gift or Outfit or Surprise..."
No time for that when I have three children to feed and dress and get packed in the car. And make sure lunches are semi-healthy and bags are smooshed with folders and also don't forget a snack. For school. And the car. And also diapers. At least I remembered to take an actual picture of that 1st Day of School.
And a picture of this sweet little spaghetti face.
While I seem to constantly run out of margin (time) to do the zillions of things on my never ending to-do list (blog more, exercise more, read something other than "Pinkalisious" and like minded books, etc.)
we do seem to squeeze in a camping trip every now and then.
While we had to say no to other events for that weekend, I didn't feel bad.
Grilled hot dogs, a bottle of wine, a happy family,
a cute baby face,
and waking up by the Stone Mountain Lake hopefully makes up for the margin I lost during the week when someone wanted me to dress this Barbie for the 18th time but I just had to FINISH FOLDING THIS ONE BASKET OF LAUNDRY BECAUSE YOU ARE OFFICIALLY OUT OF PANTIES!!
So we try to erase those memories my kids may have of me rolling my eyes when they come to me crying with "Infraction #34--she said that I wanted to watch Wild Kratts but I said that I wanted to watch SuperWhy!!!"
And we try to replace them with memories of this: sweet sisters enjoying the view.
So maybe I have to re-think what "Margin" means to us. Does it mean doing what you want with your time?
Or does it mean doing what THEY want to do with your time?
Or is there a happy medium?
I do know it boils down to this word: life.
Life with friends.
Life with your kids.
Life eating ice cream and playing on a playground.
Life within a healthy marriage.
Life where your kids will learn their unique abilities and how that fits in with God's special plan.
Life where it's celebrated.
In the good times and the tough times.
I know the tension parents of preschoolers struggle with: where should I be investing the (little) time (margin) I have??!
Clearly, we make sure the kids are alive at the end of the day,
but wouldn't it be great if they weren't just alive, but thriving?
What if we were able to tap into their little minds just once a day and unlock their little hearts?
Is that worth me leaving my blog posting for one more day...one more day....one more day
but at least Eden got to spend time with her Grandpa for the day?
What if I tried to schedule something at least a couple times a year where they did something extraordinarily fun?
Or had a date with their dad every now and then?
Or participated in an incredible local church (Watermarke church--yes, shameless plug.)
I know, I know. It's busy. It's money. It's time.
But time (margin) invested well could multiply by incredible amounts some day.
Is it often that we do fun things?
Well, if you count celebrating Halloween fun! We do that at least once a year!
But if we can throw in some of the kids' favorite friends, I count that as a double win for Halloween.
Another question relating to margin that poses a whole mess of tension for me: working outside the home or not?
Here's my answer: who knows!??!
Here's what I do know:
1. Moms work hard. PERIOD.
2. Every mom makes the best choices with what she's got to work with.
3. Jesus doesn't have a judgment call about it. So neither will I.
4. Every mom loves their kids.
5. So I applaud each one of the moms I know. It. Is. Hard.
5 1/2. AND It. Is. Incredible.
"Whelmed. But not overly." Someone on Jimmy Fallon once said.
So I believe each mother does exactly what's best for her family with the margin she has allotted.
Well done, moms.
And well done, cute kids, for being a perk of that job.
And when you give us a real smile for pictures,
we have to save it for our blogs.
To print out someday in the future.
When we have more margin to do stuff like that.
Another Margin Lesson I've been thinking about: Having margin in your margin--having free time within your time. That's important, Maureen. That unallocated margin is when the randomness happens: kids diagnose Tim with this, "There's a bug and a blueberry in your heart, Dad."
So it's ok if there's 20 minutes where I could load the dishwasher or quick check my email. But it's ok to just leave that margin alone.
Snuggle Time might happen in that margin within the margin time.
Thoughts may happen. Like, "Mom, I've been thinking about how does God talk to me?"
Opportunities may arise when there's time for them to arise. So Maureen, stop trying to fill every waking minute with something "productive."
Enjoy Thanksgiving and stop trying to make the centerpieces cuter.
Let the randomness happen.
Like Eden turning one.
Just kidding: that stuff happens anyway.
Birthday party: enjoy the margin you have been given rather than trying to orchestrate 57 different events during the party.
Footnote: she semi-enjoyed her cupcake. But she fully enjoyed being held by every grandparent, friend, parent, and kid at her birthday party.
She also fully enjoyed whatever this was.
And also her dad.
Which brings me to my final life lesson on Margin--Having margin in your life is critical to making marriage thrive.
Because Lord knows that realistically, "intentionally building a great marriage" slides in at 17th place, right between "scrubbing the toilet because this poop was left unflushed for at least 6 hours " and "I think I forgot to feed the dog today."
But someone once said that giving your children the gift of a healthy marriage was one of the best things you could do for them.
I kind of believe that. Right after I make these sheep-ears for tomorrow's Christmas Pageant.
But alas, I know in my heart that building a thriving marriage is not only good for the kids, but good for me. And my good-looking hubs makes it pretty easy! :)
And it's unbelievably wonderful to celebrate life with the person who you (not only like to hang out with), but LOVE unconditionally.
Like living in the basement of your parents house for 20 months in order to pay off the last student loan and save up for LAND and a REALLY COOL HOUSE is totally worth it when you do it together.
And enjoying Christmas with a spouse you are crazy about is great, too.
Cause who couldn't laugh when Canaan finally got that Alien Barbie she had always wanted?
And what is Shiloh going to be like as a teenager??
And Eden just snuggles her mama and that's all this lady could want for Christmas.
So in conclusion, managing the margin (time) you have in your life is a constant tension. How much time do I devote to _______ vs. _______ ? The answer: who knows!?!? We all have a predetermined amount of margin. We can only fill it up once. So make it count--fill it with a thriving marriage, kids with healthy hearts and minds and bodies, quality friendships, an incredible church, and a woman who can sit back at the end of the day and think, "Laundry? Tomorrow. Time for a glass of wine and Modern Family."
And the biggest factor? I do know this one: God, who invented margin to begin with. He is the key that can guide your every decision in this wild ride of life.