Capacity

I was talking with a mom at church this past Sunday. She and her husband have six young boys, all born one right after the other. The youngest is two, and Deborah mentioned that she is just now feeling like she can engage extended thoughts. Know what she means?

When we are parenting young ones, enduring pregnancies, nursing babies, and up at all hours of the night, we tend to slip into survival mode, thinking shallowly through the very next thing, often the very next urgent thing- a dirty diaper, a spilled bowl of pancake batter, a high fever, an appliance repairman's visit. We easily get out of the habit of thinking deep and lengthy thoughts, and if we dare to venture there, those thoughts are more often than not interrupted.

Deborah told me she realized early on that her capacity was limited. "I stopped doing anything outside of home and family, because I didn't want those things to interrupt my responsibilities at home. I look at all you do and don't know how you do it!"

I'm sure I smiled a weak smile, and I wish I'd assured her that all she is doing is more than enough. Her capacity is different than mine. Not better, not worse, just different.

Circumstances cause us all to be able to handle things differently, too. I always reply to working women who tell me they don't know how I homeschool 8 children that I don't know how they do what they do. To me, working and trying to manage a home would put me over capacity. My circumstances allow me to focus on (mainly) homeschooling and managing my home. All the other stuff I take on- writing, reviewing, speaking a couple of times a year- my circumstances allow me to take those on.

Likely, your circumstances are different. Just because all these things are on my plate doesn't mean that I am a more stellar mom than you are. It just means my capacity is different. Not better, not worse, just different.